The House of Commons Library has produced a paper that provides a brief overview of the subject, recent parliamentary material, press articles and further reading in advance of a debate on the establishment of free ports in the UK to be held in Westminster hall on 11th October. It notes that –
- Free ports (known as “free zones” under EU law) are generally understood to be designated areas inside a country geographically, but outside of that country’s established customs area, allowing manufacturing, warehousing and trade outside of the host country’s standard tariffs and export/import procedures;
- There are estimated to be 3,500 free ports in the world, employing 66 million people;
- There are no free ports in the UK, though there is one on the Isle of Man (though, like former UK free ports, whilst legally capable of being a “proper” free port, currently operates more like a gloried industrial estate); and
- 7 free ports operated in the UK at various points between 1984 and 2012; the remaining 5 closed in 2012.