Freeport status for region is key to bringing cash and jobs to £400 million manufacturing park say leaders

Leaders of a £400 million manufacturing park have urged the Prime Minister to get behind calls to back the North East by granting Freeport status to three of its hubs.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 9:23 am

They say the status is critically important for the Port of Tyne, Port of Sunderland and the Port of Blyth as it will “unlock the potential” of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), which is being built next to Nissan and will strengthen the car giant’s supply chain.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, and Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, say it is vital to supporting its development as it is at the core of Nissan’s long-term operations.

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Port of Tyne and Port of Sunderland, alongside the Port of Blyth, could become Freeports under the plans, helping to back the future of the IAMP site near Nissan.

They believe IAMP, which the two councils are working to deliver and will help lead the electrification of vehicles, will help level up the economy, creating an estimated 60,000 jobs and safeguard critical supply chains across the UK.

Councillor Miller, chairman of IAMP and Port of Sunderland, said: “There can be absolutely no doubt about the strategic importance of IAMP to this region, and to its role in levelling up the North East economy, creating jobs and opportunities for our people.

"Ensuring they are enabled by exceptional gateways – such as our ports – is fundamental and that’s why the Government must ensure that Port of Sunderland – and Tyne and Blyth – are backed.”

Councillor Dixon said: “IAMP is a vast site that is on the doorstep of Nissan and promises to create some 7,000 jobs.

"Its connectivity is exceptional, but only by granting the region Freeport status, can we ensure momentum we have seen on this site to date continues to grow and that it can continue to be a real catalyst for economic growth for generations to come.”

The North East exported £13.2 billion of goods in 2018, equivalent to almost £8,000 per working age person, making it the third highest in the country for export value.

If Freeport status is given, it is estimated to increase by £2.1 billion over the next decade, generating a further £3.4 billion additional Gross Value Added.

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