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July 14, 2020

Port of Tyne responds to freeport consultation

Britain's Port of Tyne has submitted its response to the government’s freeport consultation by promoting a ‘virtual’ free trade zone connecting the North East’s areas of economic activity. 

By Rhodri Morgan

Britain’s Port of Tyne has submitted its response to the government’s freeport consultation by promoting a ‘virtual’ free trade zone connecting the North East’s areas of economic activity. 

The government aims to create up to ten freeports in locations across the UK, which will have different customs rules to the rest of the country, generating employment opportunities. 

The freeports are expected to be fully operational within 18 months of the UK leaving the European Union at the end of this year.

The proposed ‘virtual’ freeport will link a multi-site, digitally-enabled free trade zone across a number of nationally significant clusters such as advanced manufacturing, low carbon energy and development sites.

In 2019, the Port of Tyne established the UK’s first 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub and more recently became the first British base to join the global data and resource sharing initiative, Connected Ports Partnership alongside Rotterdam, Gdansk, Helsinki, Hamburg and Los Angeles. 

Last year the Port launched Tyne 2050, a new long-term vision, that aims to see the Tyne become a gateway for regional transformation, aligned to the UK government’s Maritime 2050 strategy and the North East Economic Plan.

The proposed free trade zone will use the Port’s 250 acres of developable riverside land with access to highways and rail networks, streamlined customs processes through Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) trusted trader status and an established network of global shipping connections. 

The North East is home to a cluster of manufacturers and their supply chains. Handling up to 600,000 vehicles a year plus vans, trucks, train carriages, sub-sea, mining and construction equipment for Nissan, Volkswagen, Komatsu and other global brands, the Port is the UK’s second largest car export hub.

Renewable energy is also at the heart of the Port by providing two power stations with imported biomass product and recently being selected as the operations and maintenance base for the world’s largest wind farm, Dogger Bank.

“A digitally connected freeport through the Port of Tyne with an emphasis on regional clusters would be an opportunity to build on the foundations the existing businesses in the region have built over many years, whilst also attracting new investment in to the region,” said Port of Tyne CEO, Matt Beeton.

“The Port continues to spearhead the case for a digitally connected, multi-site free trade zone covering the region’s nationally significant logistics, manufacturing and development sites. 

“Our eventual bid will build upon the Port’s industry leading position across innovation and decarbonisation to ensure our global operations remain at the centre of the North East’s export-focused economy.”

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