Ports to apply for post-Brexit freeport status after UK government opens bidding process – MLex
- UK seaports, airports and rail hubs are to apply for freeport status, to boost the country’s economic growth post-Brexit, the government has said, opening the bidding process for at least 10 sites. The deadline for bids is Feb. 5, with a final decision due in the spring (see Freeports bidding prospectus).
- The freeports, the first of which are expected to become operational next year, will benefit from “generous tax relief, simplified customs procedures and wider government support,” the Treasury said in a statement.
- At the sites, the import and export of goods — under free-trade-zone conditions — would be allowed outside typical tax and tariff duties, and not be subject to the usual checks and paperwork. The freeports plan is seen as a contentious issue affecting competitive dynamics between the UK and the EU at the end of the Brexit transition period.
EU vote on Brexit deal could be delayed until 28 December – Guardian
- A European parliament vote to seal a Brexit trade deal could be delayed until 28 December, three days before the end of the transition period, under an emergency EU plan. With less than seven weeks to go before the UK leaves the single market and customs union, the negotiations remain troubled, with the talks on fishing rights in UK waters not progressing significantly since the summer.
- Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said. “We really are in the last week to 10 days of this. If there is not a major breakthrough over the next week to 10 days then I think we really are in trouble and the focus will shift to preparing for a no trade deal and all the disruption that that brings.”
- Michel Barnier is understood to want to be able to report positive news at a videoconference summit on Thursday. But the timeline for a deal has repeatedly slipped, with agreement now more likely to be found next week or later, putting in jeopardy a scheduled European parliament vote on the deal on 16 December.
- Sources in the European parliament said there had been discussions about holding an extraordinary sitting of the chamber on 28 December as a senior EU diplomat conceded that Brussels might need to be “creative” to get the agreement ratified.
West Midlands’ Tory mayor warns over post-Brexit tariffs – FT
- The Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, is pressing the government to strike a more ambitious trade deal with the EU to avoid a stark recession in the UK’s manufacturing heartland which is home to Jaguar Land Rover, electric taxi maker LEVC, aerospace and automotives component maker GKN and thousands of other suppliers.
- The mayor has warned that unless a trade deal includes preferential rules of origin terms, West Midlands exporters could face tariffs of up to 10 per cent on their EU bound goods, pricing them out of the market. Modelling by the University of Birmingham found tariffs could reduce the regional economy by 12 per cent, and add £3,000 to the average cost of an exported car.
- Preferential rules of origin would allow goods assembled with parts from beyond the EU and UK to be classed as UK made, and therefore included in tariff-free trade. Mr Street said that due to the strong manufacturing sector, the West Midlands is more exposed than other parts of the UK to a trade deal which doesn’t protect export industries.
- That would hit UK carmakers, including Nissan and Toyota, which import a significant proportion of their components, such as hybrid systems, from Japan and look likely to face tariffs even if a trade deal is done.