A country can designate free port areas at selected sea, river or airports. The free port offers exemptions from national import and export duties for goods that are just passing through the port to be re-exported. There are both local and international advantages. The local economy gains from the increased demand for local labour, goods and services to support the free port and the flow of international trade is facilitated.
The UK should investigate the creation of free trade ports whilst still a member of the EU. The date which Article 50 is triggered to start the 2-year countdown for the UK departure from the EU is still uncertain. Free ports could be created while the UK is still an EU member to improve its bargaining position and to prepare it for the future.
Free ports could be created in regions of the UK needing economic redevelopment or areas at risk from the effects of Brexit.
Free ports and free trade zones are used successfully throughout the world. The OECD cites 4 types ranging from a simple free port which is just used to re-export goods, through to Special Economic Zones which provide an array of incentives including infrastructure, tax and custom exemptions, and simpler administrative procedures. These are often focused on specific industries such as media or textiles to give a boost to these sectors.
Free trade ports like Dubai's Jebel Ali are very successful and these could be created quickly in the UK so that Commonwealth countries could have tariff free access to mainland UK, during the period while it is still in the EU.