Mayor Ben Houchen’s campaign for a Free Port on Teesside has been met with widespread support across the Tees business community.
More than 50 businesses have added their names to mayor Ben Houchen’s letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, backing a study into establishing a Free Port in Tees Valley.
They include PD Ports, AV Dawson, Sirius Minerals, Liberty Steel, Quorn Foods, Bulkhaul, Wilton Engineering, Teesside University and Sembcorp.
Here’s what some business leaders had to say about a Free Port for Teesside…
Mike Matthews, Nifco UK managing director:
“These plans are a boon to the manufacturing sector. Removing barriers to global trade will be transformative to our industry, allowing it to thrive.
“The Free Port scheme would put us on an equal footing with other world-leaders in manufacturing. It would also help us to give something back to the region with an increase in high-quality employment opportunities and further investment.”
Alex Hayward, managing director of Phusion IM:
“The River Tees has always been a vital artery for businesses and the local economy in the Tees Valley, and many have benefitted considerably from its convenient access and infrastructure.
“But as Brexit approaches, and we look to expand our trade links with the rest of the world, having a free port will not only bring exciting opportunities to the port in terms of increased traffic and investment, but it will also give companies in the region the perfect chance to share their own expertise, services and wares with the rest of the world.”
Jerry Hopkinson, PD Ports’ chief operating officer:
“We welcome this call for a pilot study into the viability of Free Ports.
“This significant work could represent a step-change in how we, and many other firms across the country, do business for the better. Having Free Port status would provide the opportunity to attract further inward investment, create a platform for growth and help to develop long-term sustainable industries for the Tees Valley and the local and regional economy.”
Paul Booth, Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership chair:
“The local business community is eager to see this exciting potential become a reality. It would rewrite the rulebook on what could be achieved in terms of growth.
“We need new solutions for a new era and evidence points to Free Ports being a successful way of supporting our local businesses and puts Tees Valley in a strong position to capitalise post-Brexit.”
Bob Borthwick, commercial manager at Scott Bros:
“A Free Port would be a massive boost for Teesside and make us a global hub for trade and manufacturing. The infrastructure the area has in place makes Teesport an ideal candidate for this initiative, together with the significant surrounding sites that are ideal development opportunities for companies taking advantage of the Free Port. As well as attracting inward investment, it will also benefit existing Teesside businesses that have the skills and capabilities to become essential elements of Free Port occupiers’ supply chains.”