What Teesside Freeport means for businesses

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The Wilton International site is part of the Teesside Freeport, which opened for business in November 2021. So what exactly is a freeport, and how does it benefit businesses?

What is a freeport?

A freeport is a region of the country where special economic rules apply. It’s based around a seaport, or airport, but can extend over a large neighbouring area – up to 45km. It’s a form of SEZ (special economic zone) that allows businesses to manufacture, import and export within the UK border, but without the usual tax and customs restrictions.

With the current freeport initiative, the Government aims to provide an economic boost as part of the nation’s post-COVID recovery, drive regeneration and “level up” the UK’s ports and historic industrial regions.

How does Teesside Freeport help businesses?

Teesside Freeport will make it easier to do business, especially international trade. As a UK freeport zone, it will provide eligible businesses with access to favourable tax rates, simplified customs on goods coming into and leaving the UK, and support for innovation and planning.

Within UK freeports, there are tax zones and customs zones, each with their own specific rules and benefits. 

In tax zones, businesses receive:

In customs zones, businesses will:

Customs and tax zones are geographically different areas within the freeport boundary, and each freeport has its own layout.

Why was Teesside chosen as a freeport location?

Teesside Freeport is the largest of the 8 freeports in the UK. It incorporates Teesside International Airport, Teesport, the Port of Middlesbrough, and the Port of Hartlepool, as well as key industrial sites like Wilton International. 

As well as its sheer size, Teesside’s outstanding transport links, long history of industry and exporting, and offshore infrastructure mean that it’s set up to use the potential of freeport status to the full. The area is also home to one of the UK’s most advanced and ambitious zero-carbon initiatives, meaning that businesses locating in Teesside can take their place at the forefront of carbon-neutral industry. 

The freeport is being hailed as a renaissance for the industrial north. According to government figures, the Teesside Freeport alone will boost the UK economy by an estimated £3.2 billion.  

What does Teesside Freeport mean for businesses at Wilton International?

The Wilton International site’s 200ha tax zone represents a significant chunk of the freeport’s total 600ha of tax zone-status land.

This large allocation reflects the fact that the site is particularly favourable for investing energy-intensive businesses, thanks to its low-cost utilities and advanced infrastructure.  

Investing companies of all kinds can take advantage of Wilton International’s private wire network – the largest in the UK – plug and play water, natural gas, compressed air and industrial gases, as well as safety and security services on site. 

How do freeports build knowledge and innovation?

As well as supporting regeneration, freeports are a means of bringing skills and employment to the areas they’re based in. With investment and development come skills and expertise, and a defined geographical zone means there’s a fruitful concentration of skilled and committed people who can work together and develop ideas that may not have flourished in isolation. 

In Teesside, where there is already a concentration of skilled workers and industrial expertise, 18,000 jobs are expected to be created as a result of the freeport. 

Find out more about Wilton International’s site solutions for investing industrial businesses: request the site Data Sheets