THE Welsh Government has has struck a £26 million deal with the UK Government on the establishment of Freeports in Wales.
A Freeport could create high-quality jobs, attract new businesses and investment and help regenerate communities.
It means coastal communities like Holyhead will be able to bid for the status.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS, said: “Creating a freeport in Wales will be a real shot in the arm for our economy and the country as a whole with more high-quality jobs and investment as a result.
“Freeports bring a vast array of opportunities and benefits, and this exciting project highlights just how serious the UK Government is about levelling up Wales.
“It is incredibly positive to hear a second freeport could be on the cards, and I sincerely hope lots of innovative bids are submitted.
Welsh ministers agreed to support Freeport policies in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement to provide at least £26 million of non-repayable starter funding for any Freeport established in Wales, which represents a parity with the deals offered to English Freeports.
The UK Government have agreed to meet a number of other demands – including that both governments will act on the basis of a ‘partnership of equals’ to deliver any Freeports in Wales.
In addition, both Governments have agreed a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated clearly it will operate in a manner that aligns with the Welsh Government’s policies on fair work and environmental sustainability, including the commitment to Wales becoming a net-zero carbon nation.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Following considerable engagement between our Governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK Ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales, and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.
“However, we have made it clear to the UK Government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.
“I very much hope that the UK Government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”
The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said: “I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.
“The UK Government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.
“Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.”
Both governments have begun the process of designing the bid prospectus for the competition and further details about the timing of next steps will be released in due course.