Free Ports

Today (5 February 2021) is the date for submissions for applications for Free Ports are customs-free areas where “value” is added to products before being re-exported without ever actually entering the country. So, all of that paperwork that is currently crippling domestic business due to Brexit will not be due by the businesses operating inside free port areas. The fear is that it is not just paperwork that will be excluded – workers rights and environmental protections may also be excluded.

On the former, the RMT Union General Secretary, Mick Cash, has said that “Without strong employment rights, automatic trade union recognition and tax laws that make sure international owners of UK ports contribute, free ports are doomed to fail the communities they are designed to help.”

Another big player will be DP World. This company is owned by the State of Dubai and chaired by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem (bottom right). The free port there operates a tax-free operation area – indeed, firms can be incorporated there to operate untaxed.

Sultan_Ahmed_bin_Sulayem_at_Retail_City_2007

On environmental issues, the case case of Bristol is of concern. The port company is owned by Terence Mordaunt and David Ord. Notwithstanding their affiliation to the Conservative Party, they are supporters of the climate-change-denying lobby Group, Global Warming Policy Forum. The science of climate change is now fact. Free ports should not be a vehicle for undermining the decarbonisation of the economy.

Picture: Imre Solt, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

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