Home > Policy > CONSULTATION RESPONSE: Freeports

14 July 2020 | International & Trade




The Department for International Trade is developing proposals to create up to 10 freeports with the objective of boosting trade, creating jobs and attracting investment and levelling up the UK economy.

In our response to the government’s freeports consultation, we agreed that freeports – if designed in the right way and created in the right places with the right safeguards – could deliver some economic benefit by simplifying and increasing trade in goods or attracting new inward investment to regions which need it most.

However, we also noted that there are serious and legitimate concerns about the significant risks and likely negative impacts which are closely associated with freeports globally. There is evidence that freeports can displace existing economic activity and facilitate tax evasion, money laundering and trafficking.

We therefore proposed the following five tests as part of a cautious, collaborative and evidence-based approach to deciding whether, where and how to create freeports in Scotland.

Freeports must:

  1. Deliver economic benefit: Would freeports deliver economic benefit or simply displace existing economic activity? Would any freeport in the rest of the UK displace economic activity from Scotland, its existing ports or any new freeports?
  2. Level up the UK: Would freeports rebalance the UK economy and level up economic performance across Scotland? Would the location of any freeport in the rest of the UK put Scotland at a competitive advantage?
  3. Prevent illicit activity: Would freeports facilitate increased illicit activity such as tax evasion, tax avoidance, money laundering and trafficking? Would these risks be sufficiently mitigated?
  4. Protect public finances: Would freeports result in a net loss or a net benefit to the public finances?
  5. Respect devolution: How would freeports be delivered by the UK Government in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities?

You can download our full response below.