Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for the Economy what discussions she has had with (i) the UK Government; (ii) Executive colleagues; and (iii) Northern Ireland port authorities regarding freeport status.
Minister for the Economy: The UK Government’s Freeports policy is being developed by Her Majesty’s Treasury and as such is being led by the Finance Minister from a Northern Ireland perspective. The Finance Minister wrote to HM Treasury last August setting out the Executive’s position and seeking further clarity on the policy, some of which has been provided in the Government’s response to its Freeport consultation.
In seeking to ensure that this emerging policy is designed in a manner that works best in the Northern Ireland context, my officials engage regularly, alongside DoF colleagues, with their UK Government counterparts. They participated in a series of consultation events organised by HM Treasury, and engagement has continued with a range of stakeholders, including representatives of the NI port authorities, while remaining conscious of the potential for a future Freeport allocation process.