One of the UK’s largest port businesses, which has major operations in Wales, has hailed the UK Government’s plans to establish Freeports around the country and said the proposals presented a chance to create jobs and build on the billions its ports contribute to the economy.
Associated British Ports (ABP) has 21 ports around Britain handling about £150bn of trade on behalf of businesses around the country. Together with its customers, ABP’s ports already support 119,000 jobs and contribute £7.5bn to the UK economy every year.
The business said an ambitious Freeports policy had the potential to generate further economic activity by attracting investment and growing international trade that benefits the whole economy.
As part of a wider strategy, the Freeports also offer the chance to achieve important national objectives, including boosting exports; reducing carbon emissions; and levelling up the economy, ABP added.
A spokesperson for ABP told Insider: “By eliminating tariffs and duties, reducing operating costs and streamlining planning, Freeports could become ideal locations for investment in new manufacturing, logistics and innovation.
“This could lead to the creation of thousands of quality long-term, high-skilled jobs in coastal communities, which have been left behind recent economic development.”
Highlighting how several ABP ports are “well placed to deliver on the stated objectives of the Freeports policy”, the spokesperson added: “ABP’s ports are located on key global and European trade routes and in close proximity to important domestic industrial clusters, logistics hubs and major conurbations.
“ABP owns a total of 3,743 hectares of freehold land, one of the largest portfolios in the UK, which includes 960 hectares of strategic development land in prime locations across the country.”
The business also highlighted how its Welsh ports were excellent locations for port-centric manufacturing, with large areas of strategic development land close to deep water, connected by road and rail to major conurbations and distribution centres.
“Many of our ports have a long history of supporting manufacturing and many were built and expanded to support these growing industries . . . .
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