Associated British Ports tight-lipped on whether it will push for Barrow to be freeport

The operator of the Port of Barrow[1] is remaining tight-lipped over whether it will push to be one of 10 new freeports. The government has launched a consultation on creating the freeports, which will have special tariff and duty status. Associated British Ports, which owns and operates the Port of Barrow, said it intended to play a part in the consultation.

Chief commercial officer Julian Walker said: “ABP welcomes today’s Government announcement of a consultation on developing freeports. “We believe that freeports have the potential to increase the ability of ports to drive trade and economic growth by boosting the UK’s manufacturing base and exports. “We will be responding to the consultation and look forward to the benefits that this new policy could offer to our ports around the country.”

However, when asked directly if it would be seeking freeport status for Barrow a spokeswoman said it was not “ready to share any more information”. The Government wants to confirm the locations of the freeports this year, so the first could be open as early as 2021. Following a 10 week consultation, potential freeports will be invited to bid for the status.

Carlisle Lake District Airport, which is owned by Stobart Group, is intending to bid to become one of the freeports. Freeports are designated areas within a country that benefit from tariff free imports and exports. They may also benefit from tax breaks, exemption from customs declarations and other incentives to attract business.

ABP estimates the Port of Barrow supports 1200 jobs across the UK and 800 in Barrow. Those using the port include BAE Systems, Burlington Aggregates and wind energy firm Orsted. It also deals with large amounts of wood pulp being imported for use by Barrow paper maker Kimberly Clark and BillerudKorsnas, in Beetham.

Councillor Ann Thomson, Barrow Borough Council leader and spokesperson for economic regeneration, said: “We are aware that the government this week launched a 10 week consultation on the creation of new freeports in the country.

“We will be reviewing the proposals with partners across the area to consider whether freeport status would benefit the borough.”

References

  1. ^ Barrow (www.nwemail.co.uk)

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