A new report from international consulting and construction firm Mace Group claims that if Brexit happened, ‘Supercharged’ Free Ports could boost trade by nearly £12 billion and generate more than 150,000 jobs in the North of England, adding £9 billion a year to the UK economy.
The report says that although the North is responsible for only 19% of the UK’s GVA, the region’s ports handle 28% of UK trade in international goods by weight.
The report says five Northern ports alone — Grimsby & Immingham, Liverpool, Tees & Hartlepool, Hull and the Rivers Hull & Humber — handle more than £150 billion of goods every year.
“With Brexit on the horizon, more and more attention is turning to how our goods enter and leave the UK — and how we will grow our vital trading relationships once we leave the European Union,” said Mace in its report.
“All over the world, Governments use ‘free ports’ to drive economic growth around strategic trading ports.
“By removing import and export duties on goods that don’t leave the area, local growth is stimulated and trade directly incentivised.
“Once we leave the EU, we will be able to designate our own free ports.
“Research from Mace shows that — when those free ports are ‘supercharged’ by being combined with enterprise zones — the potential economic upsides to the UK are huge.
“Mace’s latest Insights report shows we could generate more than 150,000 jobs, add more than £9 billion a year to the UK economy and put the equivalent of £1,500 a year in the pockets of every Northern family.
“That could transform our economy, re-balancing the north and south of the UK; and all by creating new growth, rather than redistributing government funding.
“With our exit from the EU approaching, it’s time to begin planning for the future and exploring the policies that we could introduce to transform our economy for the better.”