UK Government are running a consultation on proposals to establish Freeports across the UK. Their proposal outlines the government’s proposals covering tax, customs, planning and encouraging innovation, and asks for views.
Blue Shield United Kingdom has responded to the consultation to expresses concerns that the current proposal is not robust enough to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property.
There are demonstrable links between Freeports and illicit trafficking of cultural property (CP) with many countries increasing Freeport regulation. The UK Government has committed to CP protection and the prevention of illicit trafficking of CP; internationally, the opening of Freeports in the UK may be perceived as contradictory to those commitments. In particular, if the UK departs from the EU’s more stringent measures to combat illicit trafficking of CP, the UK could be seen as a “haven” in which to store illicit CP if UK Freeports have significantly lower requirements. (EU measures include new EU Cultural Property Import Regulations 2019 which create an electronic import licensing system for CP coming into the EU, require export licences for at risk CP, and import declarations otherwise).
As the UK’s Freeport proposals go against the trend of other countries, the UK must ensure it can demonstrate robust measures are in place to prevent illicit trafficking of CP (including that below the £10,000 threshold, which is still a significant contributor to organised crime) and that it has learned from the mistakes of other Freeports around the world.
In this Evidence and Annexes, we aim to:
Read more about the Consultation on the UK Government website
Read the Response to the Consultation on the UK Government Website