Freeport expected to be announced for Wales after deal between UK and Welsh governments
A freeport is expected to be announced for Wales today, after months of protracted negotiations between the UK and Welsh Governments.
The most likely location for such a low or no tax port is thought to be Holyhead, with the MP Virginia Crosbie a strong advocate of the idea.
The Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, also suggested in March that Cardiff Airport could become a freeport.
A source told the Daily Post newspaper that Westminster had now addressed Welsh Government concerns over funding and employment protection within the freeport.
First Minister Mark Drakeford had also previously voiced his reservations, saying that “anybody sensible” would be “worried about displacement in freeports”.
But he added in March of last year that those issues were “resolvable” but that the “ball at the moment is in the court of the UK government”.
It was reported before the new year that the idea of setting up freeports in Wales and Scotland may have been “killed” by Treasury civil servants.
But in the House of Commons in January Boris Johnson answered Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie to say that they were still planning on bringing a freeport to Wales, with Michael Gove leading the discussions.
“Can the Prime Minister confirm to me and my Ynys Môn constituents that the UK Government are committed to at least one freeport in Wales?” Virginia Crosbie asked. “Will he update the House on how discussions are progressing with the Welsh Government?”
Boris Johnson replied that “my right honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [Michael Gove] is indeed talking to his counterparts in the Welsh Government about establishing a freeport in Wales.
“I urge our friends in the Welsh Government to agree to those plans as a matter of urgency.”
The question came after the Telegraph reported last year that the idea of setting up freeports in Wales and Scotland may have been “killed” by Treasury civil servants.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak had previously lauded the free ports as a way of “levelling up” the economy outside of London.
But according to the Telegraph, the Treasury privately feared that freeports would simply result in less tax revenue and “displace” existing investment from elsewhere.
“The Treasury has killed freeports,” a source told the newspaper.
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