On November 14th 2016 the Centre for Policy Studies published a very interesting paper entitled "The British Ports Opportunity" by the Conservative MP Rishi Sunak which proposed that the UK should take advantage of the freedom of Brexit to create a wave of "Free Ports" or "Free Trade Zones" around the UK.
Commenting on Rishi Sunak's paper, Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies said "The concept of Free Ports is thousands of years old (with Delos in ancient Greece having originally pioneered the concept). Today, they prosper all around the world. Handling owes $750 billion of merchandise and employing 420,000 people, over 3,500 Free Ports are operating in 135 counties from Boston and Seattle in the US to Shanghai in China and Manaus in Brazil.
"Rather I should say that they prosper all around the world with the exception of in the EU, where just one Free Port exists: Trieste. And even that historical anomaly is greatly limited in terms of what it can offer by Single Market regulations and the EU Customs Code. In reality as the UN has noted "Free Trade Zones" as originally conceived do not exist anywhere in the EU.
The definition of a Free Port differs widely, but at its heart is the idea that an area around a port's hinterland is designated as being outside its territory for customs purposes. This means that manufacturers can import, manufacture and re-export goods without incurring duties or tariffs. And some jurisdictions also choose to offer additional benefits such as regulatory flexibility or tax incentives for R&D.