And 21 areas across the UK are expected to apply to have “free ports” which will allow companies to enjoy a reduced tax burden and less red tape. The applications are likely to take place in Autumn and areas thought to be preparing a bid include Doncaster and Tyne. Also on the list of 21 sites thought to be preparing an application, includes Tees Port, Holyhead, Londonderry, Belfast, Port of Liverpool and Heathrow.
Others include Humber, London Gateway with Tilbury, Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol Port, Prestwick Aiport, Grangemouth, Aberdeen/Peterhead, Milford Haven, as well as Bournemouth Airport and Manchester Airport.
FT’s Chief Political Correspondent, Jim Pickard, also reports Newport, Cardiff, Swansea & Port Talbot, will likely also join as an area likely to apply.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is thought to want the UK’s 10 free ports to be up and running within a year of Britain fully cutting ties with the bloc on December 31.
A Treasury insider said: “We remain committed to free ports.
Rishi Sunak is thought to want the Freeports up and running by next year
Rishi Sunak speaking in the Commons
“The next stage is opening the bidding process later this year.”
Mr Sunak is said to be planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become free ports in his autumn Budget.
It comes after the Chancellor detailed his £30billion rescue plan last week amid the coronavirus crisis.
Under the plans, free ports are expected to be able to enjoy research and development tax credits as well as cuts to stamp duty and business rates, plus relaxations of local planning laws.
They will be legally outside the country’s customs territory so that goods can be imported, manufactured or exported without incurring national tariffs or import VAT until they enter the rest of the UK economy.
The UK will fully cut ties with the bloc at the end of the transition period
Mr Sunak is expected to invite bids and identify the locations which will benefit from changes in next year’s Budget.
It comes as more than £700million is to be spent on building new infrastructure, hiring staff and developing technology to ensure Brexit Britain’s border systems are fully operational by the end of the year.
The UK is currently in trade negotiations with the European Union – but will cease to follow the bloc’s rules after December 31.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to “manage the changes and seize the opportunities” when the Brexit transition period ends in December.
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Brexit talks are yet to make significant progress
The £705million package includes £235million for staffing and IT systems, and £470million for port and inland infrastructure.
This will ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls.
The funding relates only to the implementation of the GB-EU border, and the Government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.
Mr Gove said: “We are taking back control of our borders, and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.
Brexit timeline – Chart
“That is why we are announcing this major package of investment today.
“With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705million will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.”
Referring to ongoing discussions with the European Union, which appear deadlocked, Mr Gove said “progress is being made” but differences remain.
Mr Gove told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Everyone in Government wants to make sure that our departure from the European Union is a success.
“And whether or not we secure a Canada-style trade deal with the EU during the course of the negotiations that we are carrying out, we will be outside both the single market and the customs union come what may.
“And that means that business needs to take some steps and Government certainly needs to take some steps in order to make sure that we’re ready and that’s the basis of the announcement today.”