UK Brexit Secretary welcomes free port study
The UK’s Brexit Secretary of State has welcomed a proposal for a study into the benefits of free port status for the Tees region – which contains Teesport.
During a visit to Teesport, David Davis, the UK Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said that the UK government would consider Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s proposal to the UK Chancellor, which is supported by 50 business leaders, with the “most open mind possible”.
That’s according to a release from Mr Houchen’s website, which said that Mr Davis was responding to the raising of the Mayor’s proposal by Jerry Hopkinson, chief operating officer of Teesport operator PD Ports, and Steve Gibson, vice-chair of the South Tees Development Corporation, during the visit.
The Secretary used a speech during the trip to discuss how the UK planned “to smooth the path to” its new relationship with the EU, after the country left the multinational organisation, through a timed implementation period.
He also said in the address that the process of the UK leaving the EU will afford ports like Teesport “new opportunities”.
Commenting on Mr Davis’ speech, PD Ports’ Mr Hopkinson, who is also a member of the Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Free port status at Teesport would act as a catalyst to remove trade barriers and enable industry to thrive, creating employment and capitalising on the readily-available skills the region is globally-renowned for.”
The Brexit Secretary of State’s visit comes during a period that has seen significant campaigning efforts for Teesport to be given the customs-related status.
Mr Houchen’s bid for the UK government to put a free port in Teesside is backed by companies including Hitachi Rail and Quorn Foods, according to a personal film he made for the UK television show Daily Politics’ Soap Box series.
Additionally, last week, Port Strategy reported that Anna Turley, MP for the UK Parliament constituency that contains Teesport, lobbied for the port to be awarded free port status in a speech in the UK House of Commons earlier in January.
Free ports, though inside a country’s geographical boundary, are seen as outside the nation for customs purposes and remove customs duties.
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