Boris pledge over 'Free Port' boost for Tees Valley
Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson has backed a call to boost Teesside’s economy by creating a ‘Free Port’.
Free Ports are areas where tariffs do not apply – allowing firms to import goods, store them and re-export them without dealing with the tax authorities.
Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen challenged both Prime Minister contenders contenders to establish a Free Ports in the area – claiming it would provide a major boost to the local economy and create thousands of new jobs.
Commenting on Mr Johnson’s pledge to look at rolling out Free Ports, Mr Houchen said: “Earlier this week I challenged both Boris and Jeremy Hunt to embrace Free Ports in my 100-page White Paper.
“I am delighted that Boris has announced that, if he becomes Prime Minister, he would roll out Free Ports across the country as quickly as possible.
"Boris has listed Teesside as one of only six locations for this, meaning our region's voice is being heard.”
He added: “Low-tax Free Zones have the potential to transform the northern economy, attract inward investment, and reshore manufacturing jobs to the UK."
Last month, Hartylepool MP Mike Hill called for Free Port status for the area.
PD Ports currently run Teesport and dock land in Hartlepool.
Mr Johnson said: “I welcome this well-written report by Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen.
“As Prime Minister, I will do everything I can to boost investment and economic success across the entire United Kingdom, and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by leaving the EU on 31 October to introduce free ports.
“They are an excellent way to boost businesses and trade in regions that Westminster has neglected to pay attention to for far too long.’
If he is elected leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said he will:
*Launch an immediate review through the Department for International Trade and HMRC into setting up Free Ports across the UK to encourage investment.
*Consider specific candidate sites.
*Begin consultations with local authorities, and allow port towns to place bids to convert to this new status.
*Take steps to introduce pilot Free Ports as soon as possible after the UK leaves the EU on 31 October.