The Prime Minister has been pressed for more information on proposals to create free ports in the north-east.
Boris Johnson pledged to create 10 of the zones around the UK during his leadership campaign, with it previously revealed he was privately considering giving either Aberdeen or Peterhead “free port status”.
The move would mean goods can be manufactured, imported and exported in the zone without incurring normal barriers to trade like tariffs and customs duties.
But Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the Prime Minister asking for detail on his proposal, adding he would be “grateful” as constituency MP for information on how discussions were progressing.
Mr Stevenson said: “I will support a good idea no matter its source if it helps my constituents, creates jobs and boosts the Buchan economy. I don’t think we’re quite at that stage yet as there is so little detail available on Mr Johnson’s proposal, so I’ve written to him asking him to set out which department is taking the lead and what the timetable for progress is.
“The current process for establishing a free port rests with HM Treasury under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
“However, there are no Freeports in the UK and those that existed previously were not considered to have been successful in boosting the national or even local economy.”
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1Mr Johnson’s new International Trade Secretary Liz Truss confirmed last week that 10 ports across the UK will be given the status with one source saying she was “very keen” on having one in the north-east.
David Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “I am sure the Prime Minister will respond to Mr Stevenson in due course. I am pushing the case for Peterhead in what will be a highly competitive field.
“There has been interest already from Teesside, Port of Tyne, Milford Haven and London Gateway. I have already met Peterhead Port Authority to discuss this, and their new CEO has experience of free ports elsewhere in the UK.
“The UK Government has established an expert advisory panel to look at sites around the world. The north-east cannot afford to miss the boat on this.”
However, north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has dismissed the proposals as an “absurd proposition”, claiming the move was an attempt to “duck and dive tax”.
Ms Truss has asked port authorities to submit applications to a newly-created free ports advisory panel, which will make the final decision.