John Napton, CEO of Brittany Ferries, believes in Freeport's potential, but is conscious of the collaborative work that will have to be done to ensure its success.
"When you think of a shipping company you’d think Freeports would be the answer and a good match; but it’s difficult to say just yet if Freeports will be great for our business.
"The opportunity is there and it could be a great thing if all the benefits are delivered, but there are a lot of steps before we get there. In order for Freeports to work, those operating in logistics and across the supply chain need to collaborate. It’s currently unclear who our potential clients will be and where the supply chain will come from, improving that visibility to encourage collaboration will be key to success. However, visibility is only the first step. From there, all stakeholders, regions and local business communities will need to work together to improve regional connectivity, create jobs and increase productivity to realise the potential of Freeports. The key challenge at a local level is always about improving collaboration and ensuring both public and private sectors work hand in hand. Our business is impacted by two Freeports and it’s quite clear that they are on parallel journeys and we’re not seeing a lot of collaboration just yet. With the changes to customs declaration on the way, understanding the technology needed across the supply chain will really make the difference as the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) launches fully in 2022. Technology is always a challenge but not impossible to overcome, it’s back to the need for visibility on the practicalities of how border control will manage and differentiate between goods going to a free zone and those moving through the port as normal."