Since receiving Government designation and becoming operational in January, the Liverpool City Region Freeport has emerged as a game-changer for businesses in the area.
We spoke to Giles Jones, Project Manager at Liverpool City Region Freeport to explore what the Freeport is, its long-term objectives, the advantages it offers to Liverpool’s business community and the enduring impact it will have for the whole city region.
What is Liverpool City Region Freeport?
The Liverpool City Region Freeport is one of the United Kingdom’s twelve flagship Freeports. It stands as a designated area within which businesses can access a range of tax and customs incentives designed to promote trade and investment, create high-quality jobs and foster innovation.
Despite common misconception, the Freeport is not confined to the Port of Liverpool itself, nor does it just relate to land adjacent to ports or docks. The Freeport is more akin to a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) stretching 45km from Wirral Waters in Birkenhead to the outskirts of Manchester at Port Salford, encompassing all six of the local authorities that comprise the Liverpool City Region.
Through a series of customs easements, eligible businesses operating within Liverpool City Region can import, manufacture and re-export goods without being subjected to customs duties and taxes, providing a major competitive edge in the global market.
Furthermore, businesses investing in three specific ‘tax sites’ at Wirral Waters, 3MG and Parkside can access a range of tax incentives designed to maximise the attractiveness of these areas to potential investors.
What Does the Freeport Aim to Do?
The primary objective of the Liverpool City Region Freeport is to create a dynamic economic hub that encourages trade, attracts investment and stimulates quality job growth. It aims to become a magnet for companies looking to expand their operations or establish a foothold in the UK.
By fostering collaboration between businesses, academic institutions and research centres, the Freeport seeks to drive advancements in key sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, green energy and digital technologies, becoming a hotbed of innovation that generates solutions to global challenges.
When fully operational, the Liverpool City Region Freeport expects to create more than 10,000 new jobs and secure £850m of investment.
How Will it Benefit Businesses in Liverpool?
The Freeport offers several advantages that will support eligible local businesses, including:
- Tax and Customs Advantages: Businesses operating within the Freeport can apply to enjoy exemptions from customs duties and tariffs on imported goods, optimising supply chains and enhancing competitiveness.
- Enhanced Connectivity: LCR Freeport’s favourable location as the largest maritime hub on the UK’s west coast provides easy access to transportation and global trade routes, unlocking new markets and facilitating the movement of goods.
- Job Creation and Skills Development: Economic growth within the Freeport will lead to job opportunities, while collaborations with academic institutions through a Freeport Skills Academy will nurture a workforce equipped to meet industry demands.
- Innovation and R&D: The Freeport fosters collaboration between public and private sectors, facilitating technological advancements and cutting-edge solutions that benefit the entire city region.
- Investment: Benefitting from £25m of Freeport seed funding, investments will be made at key sites across the city region, improving connectivity and increasing attractiveness to potential investors.
What Will Be the Legacy of the Freeport?
Liverpool City Region Freeport’s legacy will extend beyond its immediate economic impact. By fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration and sustainable development, the Freeport will help to establish LCR as a nationally significant hub of progressive trade practices.
The ability for council areas in which the Freeport tax sites are located to retain 100% of the business rates growth above an agreed baseline offers a further glimpse at the legacy the Freeport can offer the entire region. Guaranteed for 25 years, this gives local authorities the certainty required to borrow and invest in regeneration and infrastructure that will support further growth.
In embracing innovation and fostering collaboration, the Liverpool City Region Freeport has the potential to act as a gateway to prosperity. The Freeport’s strategic aims and benefits position it as a key element of the region’s economic resurgence, delivering a future of sustainable growth and opportunities for the entire area.
*Giles Jones is Project Manager at Liverpool City Region Freeport