YOU probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you there was a simple idea that could create thousands of jobs right here in the Tees Valley. You definitely wouldn’t believe me if I told you the idea was just for government to get out of the way.

But that idea exists, and it works, and it’s called "freeports".

A freeport is a liberalised zone, free of unnecessary red tape, checks and paperwork, with customs and tax benefits.

At a freeport, goods will be able to come into our country, be turned into finished products by great British entrepreneurs and engineers, and exported back onto the global market without the burdensome paperwork and needless bureaucracy that holds back free enterprise.

This will turbocharge our manufacturing industry and inspire the next generation of makers to start up right here in Britain – and right here in Teesside.

A North-East freeport on the Tees will make us a hive of activity, enterprise and innovation. It will ensure that we are ready to take full advantage of post-Brexit opportunities. We already have strong links with the Pacific: imagine how enhanced these will be as the UK signs our first free trade deals with global partners including Australia, New Zealand and fast-growing Asian markets. We need freeports established across the country to keep up with the demand.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU on October 31 will mean we can operate an independent trade policy for the first time in 45 years, setting our own regulations and developing our own policies to boost economies around the country.

Practically speaking, a freeport in the Tees Valley would mean moving the UK’s customs border so the South Tees Development Corporation land and Teesport would lie outside of it. This would make it extremely attractive to international investors and British companies alike, in sectors like chemicals, offshore renewables, energy and advanced manufacturing.

Not only would they take advantage of an investment-friendly tax and regulatory environment to create jobs and to power our economy, they would have access to some of the country’s most skilled workers. As many as 32,000 Teessiders could find new jobs over the next 25 years, putting our world famous skills and can-do attitude to good use.

We all know that if we don’t bring attention to the fantastic opportunities in our region, nobody will do it for us. So on top of tangible incentives for companies to come here, we need to make the most of this opportunity to put Teesside on the map.

All of this shows that freeports work. The United States has pioneered the creation of over 250 free trade zones, employing 420,000 people, many in high-skilled manufacturing jobs. If the UK model is implemented as successfully, it could have a significant economic impact.

These ideas have been around for a while, but it’s only now that they, and we right here in Teesside, have the political backing we deserve thanks to our new International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. I’m delighted that she chose Teesside to visit to announce that this Government will establish up to ten freeports once we leave the EU.

I gave her a tour around Teesport yesterday, and it’s clear that we finally have senior figures at the heart of Government who truly understand how Government getting out of the way will give people across the country opportunity and help them get on in life. I can’t wait to work closely with her on her new freeports advisory panel.

She also took the opportunity to meet exporting businesses from the Tees Valley and across the Northern Powerhouse. They made it clear to her they need to be free to succeed in post-Brexit Britain.

This is a seat at the top table and an exciting opportunity for our region. I jumped at the chance, because I don’t believe the job of mayor is about managing decline or just doing more of the same. My role is to back significant projects that change things for the better, especially ones that provide good quality job opportunities for future generations.

Great ports like ours in Teesside made Britain the great global, outward looking nation we are today, and they are the gateway to our future prosperity. Finally, Westminster has realised this and is giving Teesside and other places like it the backing we need to succeed.