Report by Rachel Bullock on the opening of the Freeport
The UK's biggest low-tax custom zone is now in operation on Teesside.
Covering 4,500 acres - the equivalent of 2,550 football pitches - over 13 sites, the Tees Valley Freeport is expected to create more than 18,000 jobs, and provide a £3.2 billion boost to the local economy over the next five years.
The project was announced in March this year as part of the Spring Budget, following a successful bid submission. It was one of the first places to get freeport status under government plans to create several across the country.
What is a freeport?
Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports where business can be carried out inside a country’s land border, but where different customs rules apply.
They can reduce administrative burdens and tariff controls, provide relief from duties and import taxes, and ease tax and planning regulations.
While located geographically within a country, they essentially exist outside its borders for tax purposes.
What are the benefits of a freeport for an area?
Freeports are said to enhance trade and investment across the UK, boost growth and high-skilled jobs, and increase innovation and productivity in port regions.
Matthew Ord works for LV Shipping, a global company with a site that will operate from the freeport.
He explains why he thinks the zone will benefit Teesside as a whole.
Where is the Teesside Freeport?
The Teesside Freeport covers sites across the region, including Teesworks, Wilton International, Teesside International Airport, the Port of Middlesbrough, the Port of Hartlepool, Liberty Steel and LV Shipping.