Tories’ free ports plan will allow super rich to ‘hoard assets and avoid taxes,’ Labour warns
THE government’s plans for 10 free ports represents nothing more than “levelling up” for the super-rich to hoard assets and avoid taxes, Labour has warned.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2020
Announcing a consultation process on Sunday night, ministers claimed that the new “business and enterprise hubs” would create thousands of jobs.
Goods brought into free ports might not be subject to tariffs until they entered the domestic market or not at all if they were re-exported.
The sites could be inland as well as in coastal locations, the government said.
Following the 10-week consultation, the government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for free port status “on a competitive basis.”
Ministers said a full customs declaration would not be required to move goods into a free port.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak claimed that free ports would “unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss added that Britain was “taking back control of our trade policy and opening every corner of the UK to opportunities across the world.”
The government is also considering tax incentives, supposedly to encourage investments in free port areas.
Ministers said the initiative, which was first paraded by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his Tory Party leadership campaign last year, would increase trade opportunities around the world after Brexit.
They claimed that standards on security, safety, workers’ rights and the environment would not be compromised.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called the proposal a “revival of a failed Thatcherite plan from the 1980s, designed to cut away at regulation and our tax base.”
He said: “There is very little solid evidence that so-called free ports create jobs or boost economic growth, showing this up as another ideological move from a far-right government.
“This plan only represents a ‘levelling-up’ for the super-rich, who will use free ports to hoard assets and avoid taxes while the rest of us feel the effects of underfunded public services.”
The government aims to name the locations of the free ports by the end of the year so that they can open for business in 2021.
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