We will do for Britain’s port cities now what we did for the Docklands then, while also boosting the competitiveness of great British exports. We all know that Liverpool grew rich from trade to the USA, about Teesside’s close links to the Pacific, and the rich fishing trade that is the lifeblood of Peterhead. And it is also true that ports around the country are already seeing record levels of goods embark for distant markets as our exports go from strength to strength.
But port cities are the gateway to our future prosperity, and we need to give them the backing they deserve.
I’ve spoken to important partners like the USA, Australia and New Zealand, all of whom are determined to quickly strike new trade agreements with us. We will need turbocharged ports to handle the additional trade as we open up to the world.
That is why today I am announcing the creation of a Freeports Advisory Panel to advise the government on the establishment of up to 10 new Freeports once we leave the EU.
They will become hives of activity, expertise and enterprise – supercharged through being accorded Freeport status. As liberalised zones with reduced tax and red tape, goods will be able to come into our country, see value added by British entrepreneurs and engineers, and exported back onto the global market without the burdensome paperwork and needless bureaucracy that holds back free enterprise.
This will bring back manufacturing that has left the country and inspire the next generation of makers to start up right here in Britain.
These zones will be massively attractive to British companies that want to export around the world at a lower cost of doing business. They will see jobs created and people recruited in our port cities and towns – more than 86,000, according to the Centre for Policy Studies.
Ultimately, Freeports will mean lower prices for British consumers, more jobs in exports and Britain taking a more central role on the world stage as a major player on the world stage. They will bring out the best in Britain – a place where our go-getters, job creators, innovators and entrepreneurs can call home.
This Government is about aspiration and opportunity and Freeports embody that very ideal.
But this is not just an untested idea. There are already thousands of very successful free trading zones around the world, with the United States having pioneered the creation of over 250 free trade zones, employing 420,000 people, many in high-skilled manufacturing jobs. This is where we should be looking to for our inspiration. Not to the EU, whose red tape has held us back from this innovation for far too long.
As International Trade Secretary, establishing Freeports is one of my top priorities as part of our work to get the country ready for Brexit. And more importantly, we are already delivering on it.
This is a government that will deliver on its promises.
We promised to create Freeports and we are now creating Freeports.
We promised to leave the EU. And, finally, we will leave the EU.