Sites named for new UK freeports in Wales

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The locations of two new freeport areas in Wales have been unveiled by the UK government.

The UK government has confirmed the locations of the new proposed freeports set to be created in Wales, with sites in Anglesey in north Wales and Milford Haven and Port Talbot in the south of the country named as the winning bidders.

Between them, the sites are expected to attract almost £5 billion in investment and will offer a range of tax breaks and exemptions from key customs duties in order to stimulate investment and provide a more liberal regime to support trade. 

They will join eight additional freeports that are already up and running in England, while a further two have been announced for Scotland. The freeports form a key part of the UK's post-Brexit trading strategy, as well as encouraging investment and industrial activity throughout the UK.

Secretary of state for Wales David TC Davies said the creation of the areas is "fantastic news and a huge boost to Wales". He added: "The Freeports program is already benefiting businesses and leveling up communities elsewhere in the UK. I look forward to seeing greater investment and prosperity delivered for Wales as a result of this announcement.

As part of the bidding process, the prospective freeport zones in Wales were required to spell out how they would promote green investment and contribute to the UK's net-zero goals.

The Anglesey freeport - based in and around one of the UK's key trade links to the Republic of Ireland - will have a particular focus on marine and low-carbon energy. It is expected to attract £1.4 billion worth of investment and create at least 3,500 jobs. 

A series of infrastructure improvements are planned as part of the project, including the redevelopment of Holyhead port and the restoration of the railhead and track in the area.

Meanwhile, in the south of the country, the Celtic freeport, located in Milford Haven and Port Talbot, is expected to attract £3.5 billion investment for the hydrogen industry. It will also focus on low-carbon technologies like floating offshore wind, biofuels, and carbon capture, utilization and storage, and is set to employ up to 16,000 people.

A third bid, for an area based around Cardiff Airport and Newport, was rejected by the government. 

Official figures indicate that between 2016 and 2022, exports from Wales were worth £115 billion, with the US, Germany and Ireland the top three destinations.