William Eichler 25 June 2019

Post-Brexit free trade zones could ‘rebalance the economy’, think tank claims

The Government should establish free trade zones in the UK’s most deprived areas in the wake of Brexit in order to incentivise economic growth and rebalance the economy, a think tank has argued.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) shows that London and the South East dominate trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the UK.

Together the two areas are responsible for 43% of Britain’s exports, and over half of all new inward FDI projects between 2015 and 2018.

The report, which is entitled Tipping the Balance and is to be launched today at the CPS’ ‘Margaret Thatcher Conference on Britain and America’, argues that Whitehall should create ‘Opportunity Zones’ in the most deprived parts of the UK.

These zones, alongside ‘free ports’, would offer tax incentives to businesses which would encourage firms to locate their operations to areas where the economy requires a boost.

‘We all know that Britain’s economy suffers from alarming regional inequality,’ said Robert Colvile, CPS director.

‘To make the most of Brexit, we need not just to boost trade but to ensure that those regions that have been left behind are given the tools to compete for it.

‘Opportunity Zones and free ports can help spread prosperity beyond London, offering a tangible post-Brexit boost to some of our most deprived communities.’

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