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What are Freeports?

Freeports are a flagship Government programme that will play an important part in the UK’s post-COVID economic recovery and contribute to realising the levelling up agenda, bringing jobs, investment and prosperity to some of the most deprived communities, with targeted and effective support.​

Collage showing the sites within East Midlands Global Gateway

Designed to attract major domestic and international investment, these hubs of enterprise will allow places to carry out business inside a country’s land border but where different customs rules apply.​ At a Freeport, imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs. Businesses operating inside designated areas in and around the port can manufacture goods using the imports and add value before exporting again without ever facing the full tariffs or procedures. If the goods move out of the Freeport into another part of the country, however, they have to go through the full import process, including paying any tariffs.

Freeports are similar to free zones, or ‘enterprise zones’, which are designated areas subject to a broad array of special regulatory requirements, tax breaks and government support. The difference is that a Freeport is designed to specifically encourage businesses that import, process and then re-export goods.

The East Midlands Freeport's business case will demonstrate how the Freeport will deliver its vision, which are aligned with the UK Government’s overarching objectives for the Freeport agenda:

  1. Trade and Investment – Establish Freeports as national hubs for global trade and investment across the UK.

    • Increased trade throughput through the designated Freeport area
    • Increased investment within the Freeport area, surrounding area and nationally.
  2. Employment and Economic Activity – Promote regeneration and job creation.

    • Increased number of jobs and average wages in deprived areas in and around the Freeport
    • Increased economic specialisation in activities high in GVA (gross value added) relative to the current makeup of the local economy.
  3. Innovation and Productivity – Create a hotbed for innovation.

    • Increased local involvement and funding in research and development and innovation
    • Increased productivity in each target region, through increased capacity to absorb innovation.
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