A BID to create a super 'Freeport' on the east coast following Brexit has been submitted.

Here's all you need to know:

Who are Freeport East?

Freeport East is the name of a group consisting of businesses and local authorities, calling on the Government to assign freeport status to Harwich and Felixstowe.

What is a freeport?

Freeports are areas where tax on imports is very low or waived in order to encourage economic growth and trade.

If implemented in Harwich, it could mean normal tax and customs rules do not apply and imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and no tariffs.

If freeport status is secured, Felixstowe and Harwich International, both owned by Hutchison Ports, would be a "strategic hub" linking UK importers and exporters with suppliers and customers across the world.

Where has it been suggested?

Freeport East would focus on the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Harwich International Port could be the priority port in the bidHarwich International Port could be the priority port in the bid (Image: Newsquest)

What’s the background?

Plans have been in the pipeline to develop Bathside Bay in Harwich for decades.

In 2005, Hutchison Ports got permission from the Government to develop the bay, but plans were halted when the economic crash hit and the expected demand for container trade did not materialize.

Hutchison then decided to expand Felixstowe South as its priority.

Bathside Bay has become a centre for green energy but has not been expanded as anticipated.


Freeport East estimate if approved 13,000 new jobs and 150 apprenticeships could be created in the region

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It is claimed Freeport East will build on the existing ports’ "excellent road and rail links" although it has long been contested Harwich Port cannot be expanded until the A120 is dualled.

Freeport East claims the freeport zone would attract £500 million of investment over the next five years.

It would also mean imports could enter with more simplified customs documentation and no tariffs, making for what bosses believe could be a more streamlined system.

Tax on imports is very low or waived in order, which, in turn, encourages economic growth and trade.

How have people reacted?

Neil Stock, Tendring Council’s leader said in February 2020 the announcement of a proposed bid was a “terrific opportunity for Harwich”.

George Kieffer, chairman of the project board, has said: “I am excited to be leading such a professional and expert team to drive forward a bid which will attract major investment and lead to increased economic prosperity not only locally, but nationally.

“The area is home to some of the most deprived wards in the UK and by bringing lasting regeneration and creating new job opportunities to the region the project will support the government’s levelling-up agenda.

“We look forward to working with universities in the region to make Freeport East a hotbed of innovation in the technologies of the 21st century."

Clemence Cheng, executive director of Hutchison Ports, added: “The combination of the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich offers the UK a unique opportunity in the post-Brexit world, sitting as they do at the main junction point between the UK's principal trade route to and from the Far East and key freight links to and from northern Europe."