The cabinet of the county council has confirmed its support for the creation of a new Freeport (Freeport East) covering both the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich as part of the Government’s aim to create a number of Freeports across the country to drive job creation, investment and international trade post Brexit.

A Freeport includes secure customs zones and tax sites where business can be carried out inside a country’s land border, but where different tax and customs rules apply. These rules mean Freeports can potentially reduce administrative burdens and tariff controls, provide relief from duties, import taxes, and ease tax and planning regulations.

Freeport East has several unique aspects which make its bid for Freeport status particularly strong. This includes global and regional connectivity, with 36% of all the UK’s container traffic passing through the Port of Felixstowe, unrivalled international connections, particularly with Asia, strong connectivity to the Midlands and the North, thereby supporting the government’s “levelling up agenda” in these areas. The bid also stands out as supporting other national objectives such as the development of new technology and the push for clean energy. The Port of Felixstowe has recently won funding to trial a pilot 5G network and has strong research and development links with Cambridge and Essex Universities. There are also strong links with the energy sector and the emerging hydrogen economy.

Cllr. Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council said:

“Suffolk County Council fully supports a bid for a Freeport in our county, this is especially true of Freeport East as so much of the bid is in line with the council’s wider objectives around inclusive economic growth, job creation, regional investment and our commitments to the environment and decarbonisation.

“Freeport East is a fantastic opportunity for the Government to show that its commitment to levelling up the country is not just reserved for the Midlands and the North of England. To level up successfully the government must recognise the importance of investing in the foundations of growth and wider opportunities at both ends of the A14. This is especially true considering that many of the businesses based here are directly responsible for jobs and investment in the North of England, not to mention the reliance on the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich to export goods made in the North to the rest of the world.

“Whilst the final decision about Freeport designation rests with central government, I urge everyone in Suffolk, especially community and business leaders, to give this bid their wholehearted support.”

The Government is due to make its final decision about Freeport status later this year after assessment of all bids received nationwide in March.