British Ports Association calls on UK government not to ‘enforce’ free ports in Wales

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Holyhead Harbor. Photo by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0). Simon Hart (right) by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

The British Ports Association has called on the UK government not to ‘enforce’ free ports in Wales and Scotland, saying instead they should be ‘implemented correctly and fairly’.

Although the Welsh government has said it remains committed to settling the issue with the UK government, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has already threatened to impose a free port in Wales “no matter what”.

Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said in July that they had “systematically tried to engage constructively with the UK government” but the UK government was pressuring them “to redirect its resources to provide a UK government policy priority “.

The British Ports Association said progress in establishing free ports in England was “strongly juxtaposed with the marked delay” in Wales and Scotland.

“The industry understands that talks between the UK government and the UK’s various national administrations have been unproductive and marred by disagreements and delays – which ultimately put ports and businesses at risk,” a door said. -speak.

“The ports have spent a lot of time and money in anticipation of the tenders. Governments of all administrations owe them certainty and must not continue to let them get caught up in political tensions.

“There has also been speculation about threats from the UK government to impose the UK free port model on decentralized administrations.

“However, this is not welcomed by the industry because in this case, the Freeport package would not include decentralized levers such as planning, enterprise and certain fiscal mechanisms. For free ports to be implemented correctly and fairly, ports must have access to the same mechanisms or be resigned to being less competitive with English ports, which hinders the inefficient model in deconcentrated regions.


Welsh Secretary Simon Hart had said in May that the UK government planned to move forward with the Wales Freeport plan, whether or not the Welsh government consented to it.

He said it was a “source of frustration that we haven’t crossed the line yet.”

“Now we would very clearly like to do this in collaboration with the Welsh government, where the blockage currently resides, but we can – and if necessary we will – continue to deliver on our manifest commitment no matter what,” he said. he declares.

He added: ‘This is a clear commitment, the only obstacle standing between us and its realization is currently the Welsh government’.

Goods arriving in free ports from abroad are exempt from taxes. These taxes are only paid if the goods leave the free port and are moved elsewhere in the UK. Otherwise, they are sent abroad without the fees being paid.

The British government hopes that the free ports could help regenerate disadvantaged areas such as Anglesey.

Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said in March they “would not be willing to sign a freeport proposal that leads, for example, to lower environmental standards. The UK government has agreed on conditionality with the Scottish government to this way “.

“We would seek joint decision-making as devolved and non-delegated responsibilities are at stake in free ports, and again the UK government has agreed to joint decision-making with the Scottish government.

“Then we would seek the same level of funding for a free port in Wales that is available to all free ports in England – that’s £ 25million available for a free port in England, we would expect to see the same level of funding for a free port in Wales.

“If there is progress on these three things, this conversation can certainly continue.”

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