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New Prime Minister backs Mace free port plan

The UK’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, used his first speech on the steps of 10 Downing Street to announce his support for the introduction of ‘free ports’ across the UK. 

Mace published a leading report exploring the economic benefits of ‘supercharged’ free ports in 2018, which has since been used as the basis for a growing grassroots political campaign for their introduction across the UK. 

The modelling put forward by Mace (carried out by a former HM Treasury economist) outlined how the introduction of ‘supercharged’ free ports – areas which operate independent of national taxes and tariffs, paired with local enterprise zones – would create tens of thousands of new jobs and help to re-balance the UK’s economy. 

The Prime Minister has not yet fleshed out the details of his free port plan, but Mace’s report called for the introduction of a network of seven free ports across the Northern Powerhouse: Grimsby & Immingham, Hull, Rivers Hull & Humber, Teesport & Hartlepool, Tyne, and Liverpool, and Manchester airport which are some of the most deprived areas in the country. Other options across the rest of the UK could include major airports such as Heathrow. 

Mace’s analysis shows that a policy of ‘Supercharged Free Ports’ could deliver a boost to Northern Powerhouse GDP of £9bn per year after a period of maturation: a sum that, in today’s money, would close the gap between Northern and Southern GVA per head by 10-15%.

This equates to an extra £1,500 per every northern household and would translate into over 150,000 high value-added permanent jobs (equivalent to the entire population of Cambridge).

Speaking on the steps of 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“And as we prepare for a post-Brexit future, it is time we looked not at the risks but at the opportunities that are upon us.

“So let us begin work now to create free ports that will drive growth and thousands of high-skilled jobs in left-behind areas.”

Jason Millett, Mace’s Chief Operating Officer for Consultancy, said:

“Mace’s pioneering report last year kick-started the debate about ‘supercharged’ free ports and clearly laid out the huge potential economic benefits that we could see if they were used strategically to drive investment and growth across the UK. 

“I am pleased to see such forthright support for our proposals from the new Prime Minister, and I look forward to hearing more about his proposals over the next few months.”

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