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Can freeports really revitalise the UK economy?

The jury is out on whether the government’s latest bright idea will boost deprived regions or just shuffle existing resources around the country. And where does Brexit fit in?

By Emily Lawford  

One new freeport will be in Felixstowe and Harwich. Photo: Angela Chalmers / Alamy Stock Photo

Governments tend to be keen to encourage free trade and often plan new zones to this end. We currently have 24 such enterprise zones in England, which enjoy light-touch regulation and subsidies designed to stimulate business. And earlier this month, the government announced the location of eight new zones with similar features, known as freeports, to be set up in England.

Some 30 areas had vied to be selected, each attempting to demonstrate how a freeport would bring economic opportunity to the region. The eight locations chosen—East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber region, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth,…

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