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Freeports provide special freedoms to trade, within a specific area around a major port. Freeport status supports the expansion of international trade by offering exemptions from certain operational, regulatory and customs requirements.

In early 2019, the Mayor submitted a policy paper to Government championing a Freeport in Tees Valley, building on the recommendations of a 2016 policy paper by now Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, forming part of a campaign which launched in 2018 and was backed by more than 50 leading employers in the area.

The paper found a Freeport on the River Tees could create up to 32,000 jobs and add £2billion to the regional economy.

The consultation came following last year’s visit to the region by Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, when she announcement that a Freeports Commission would be established by Government to look at creating up to ten such zones across the UK.

In May, Mayor Houchen took another step forward in securing a Freeport for the region with the finalisation of a submission to the Government’s consultation on Freeports. The formal response, covering customs, tax, planning, regeneration and policy considerations, makes the case for such a zone in the region, and Mayor Houchen continues to work with councils, stakeholders and businesses to lay out the benefits a Freeport would bring to Tees Valley.

The consultation submission was backed unanimously by the Combined Authority Cabinet.