The government has launched a consultation on proposals to create up to ten freeports across the UK which would have different customs rules than those which apply in the rest of the UK.
The government is considering a UK freeport model which would include multiple customs zones located within or away from a port, as well as a type of special economic zone (SEZ) designated over or around the customs zones and intends to work with the devolved administrations to develop proposals to allow freeports to be created in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in addition to those in England.
The proposals include the following customs and tariff benefits for businesses bringing goods into a freeport site:
- duty suspension, with no tariffs, import VAT or excise to be paid on goods brought into a freeport from overseas until they leave the freeport and enter the UK's domestic market
- duty inversion if the duty on a finished product is lower than that on the component parts, allowing businesses to benefit by importing components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport, and then pay the duty at the rate of the finished product when it enters the UK's domestic market
- duty exemption for re-exports allowing businesses to import components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport and pay no tariffs when the final product is re-exported
- simplified customs procedures for businesses accessing freeports.
Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports where business can be carried out inside a country's land border but where different customs rules apply. Typically, goods brought into a freeport do not attract a requirement to pay duties until they leave the freeport and enter the domestic market. No duty is payable at all if the goods are re-exported.
Internet link: GOV.UK consultation