Boris backs £26 million deal to establish new Freeport in Wales

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"Two of the largest coal-exporting ports in the world were in Wales in the last century and I’ve no doubt that a modern day Freeport could prove equally effective as gateways to high skill and high wage employment and prosperity if they capture the best of the country’s sense of creativity, drive and ambition" - Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

An agreement has been reached between the UK and Welsh governments to collaborate and deliver a new Freeport in Wales (12 May 2022).

Backed by millions in UK government funding, the Freeport will support the regeneration of communities in Wales by attracting new businesses, jobs and investment, as well as growing the Welsh economy.

Bidders must show how they will create high-quality employment opportunities offering good salaries and conditions and meet the governments’ shared climate change commitments to reach net zero by 2050.

In another landmark step in cooperation, officials from UK and Welsh governments will jointly assess the bids in a fair and transparent selection process to ensure that the best possible sites come forward and that it delivers the maximum benefits to communities across Wales.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP said:

Wales has a proud history of harnessing international trade and investment to grow its economy and generate decent jobs and opportunities.

Two of the largest coal-exporting ports in the world were in Wales in the last century and I’ve no doubt that a modern day Freeport could prove equally effective as gateways to high skill and high wage employment and prosperity if they capture the best of the country’s sense of creativity, drive and ambition.

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Secretary of State Michael Gove said:

I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.

The UK government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.

Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.

Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

Following considerable engagement between our governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales, and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.

However, we have made it clear to the UK government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.

“I very much hope that the UK government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said:

As part of our plan to level up communities across the UK, Freeports have the power to be truly transformational.

By creating thousands of local jobs and driving investment across the wider economy, Freeports bring benefits and opportunities to communities that need it most. 

This is a hugely exciting announcement for Wales and I look forward to seeing bids from as many potential sites as possible.

The governments have jointly agreed that they would be prepared to consider the case for a further additional Freeport in Wales, if a truly exceptional proposal were presented at the bidding stage. The funding arrangements for an additional Freeport in Wales would be subject to negotiation between the governments.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

This fantastic multi-million pound agreement will ensure that Welsh communities secure the benefits of our world-leading Freeports offer – creating jobs, driving innovation and boosting business investment as we level up opportunity to every corner of the UK.

Freeports will be hubs for international trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities by attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities across the UK.

This agreement builds on UK government’s ambitious long-term plan to spread opportunity more equally across the whole of the UK, as set out in the Levelling Up White Paper.

As part of this, Wales has received £121 million through the Levelling Up Fund, £46 million through the Community Renewal Fund and £464,258 from the Community Ownership Fund.

In further plans to level up the UK, work continues towards plans that would see a new Freeport delivered in Northern Ireland.

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