Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Chancellor 'doesn't understand business', UK exporter tells James O'Brien
4 March 2021, 14:44
This businessman tells James O'Brien that the Government "doesn't understand business", claiming that the Budget's free ports policy will cost UK manufacturers "hundreds of thousands of jobs."
Alan from Norwich, who manufactures quality pumps in the UK for a global market, explained that Rishi Sunak's introduction of free ports "subsidises foreign imports in direct competition with myself and other manufacturers."
He continued: "It might create thousands of jobs near a free port but it loses tens of thousands of jobs in the wider world of UK manufacturing."
He explained how this would negatively affect UK business using himself as an example.
It costs him £35 to send a pump internationally, so in order to get into the market he has to bear the cost of £35 postage on top of the cost of a pump. This cost is even more significant because when a business is first set up products are sold in small quantities.
If there are free ports in his intended market he could put a pallet load into a free port and sell them locally and defer tariffs. This is something foreign manufacturers have the ability to do in the UK, ultimately making their products cheaper, and taking business from UK based firms.
James asked why the Chancellor would launch this policy if this was the case, to which Alan replied: "I don't think this lot understands business. I export myself all over the world so know the problems of exporting. I don't think the Government do."
"I think it's all headline news: a few local jobs at a free port is actually the Trojan Horse to get foreign importers a cheap way of manufacture."
"This is Brexit," said James, reflecting that this issue was possibly what economists such as Patrick Minford were predicting when they said that "leaving would decimate manufacturing and agriculture in this country."
James summarised Alan's message: "This Singapore-on-Thames dream, great news for massive foreign manufacturers, curtains for smallish domestic manufacturers."
The exporter reiterated, "These free ports are not to the advantage of UK manufacturers at all."