Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth, the Government announced on 10 February.
Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented. This was the style of a news item delivered on behalf of HM Treasury.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
It is understood that once the ten-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
‘This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.’
Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, added: ‘We are taking back control of our trade policy, and opening every corner of the UK to opportunities across the world.
‘Freeports will unleash the potential of our historic ports, creating jobs and regenerating communities across the UK. These hubs will also deepen partnerships around the world as we restore our economic and political independence.’
Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, commented: ‘Freeports represent a fantastic opportunity for our businesses to increase their trade with companies from all over the world.
‘Not only will they help create jobs and level up the UK, but they underscore our commitment to championing global free trade – unleashing our country’s potential.’
Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: ‘Our new Freeports will drive forward investment and regeneration, delivering high-skilled jobs and new homes for people across the country.’
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, Jake Berry, said: ‘People across the Northern Powerhouse can look forward to a new era of jobs and prosperity unlocked by this new generation of Freeports.
‘They will unleash the potential of communities both by boosting trade with our friends across the globe and transforming surrounding areas into hotbeds of innovation where businesses will grow and create new well-paid jobs.’
Scotland Secretary Alister Jack said: ‘Freeports are a fantastic example of how Scotland and the rest of the UK can flourish outside of the EU. The opportunity to unleash the potential in our maritime, air and rail ports, regenerating communities across the UK, is too good to miss. I urge Scottish ports and partners to take part in the consultation and develop bold, ambitious plans to bid for Freeport status.
‘We want Freeports to deliver a truly UK wide regeneration and jobs boost and the UK Government will work closely with the Scottish Government to achieve this.’
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: ‘The development of Freeports will create innovation hubs across the UK, generating new ideas in a whole host of UK sectors, from customs to transport to decarbonisation.
‘A Freeport in Wales could create hundreds of jobs and facilitate significant regional economic growth. That is why I urge businesses to engage with our consultation and help us to unleash our potential in innovation, investment and growth. Working closely with the Welsh Government and businesses, we will ensure that the whole of the UK can feel the benefits.’
Freeports will boost trade, jobs and investment with a view to building innovative business clusters that benefit the local area as part of the Government’s commitment to level up every nation (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) and region.
Freeports will also offer an exciting opportunity for innovative Customs, transport and green technologies to be trialled in controlled environments, before being adopted more widely in relevant sectors of the economy.
The Government will work in close partnership with the Devolved Administrations (of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) so that all nations of the UK are able to share in the benefits of Freeports.
Benefits of the 2020 Freeports model could include:
In addition, the Government is considering tax measures that aim to:
The UK’s high standards with respect to security, safety, workers’ rights, and the environment will not be compromised, it is understood.
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).