Thomas O’Brien will oversee the development and operation of the city region’s freeport having been appointed by the combined authority and local enterprise partnership.
Liverpool born O’Brien has spent the last 27 years as a director and senior advisor at the World Bank in Washington DC.
O’Brien also spent four years as chief executive of the Mersey Partnership to between 2001 and 2005 and has also been an economic adviser at HM Treasury.
His appointment as chair designate of the Liverpool City Region Freeport Management Board follows an extensive recruitment campaign.
“I am honoured to take on this important role,” O’Brien said.
“The Liverpool City Region Freeport is an exciting new program of national significance that will create new jobs and better business locations to the benefit of people across our community.”
In March, the Liverpool City Region was announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak as one of eight places across England to be granted freeport status.
Freeports are specially designated economic zones where usual tax and customs rules do not apply. They aim to encourage import, export and other commercial activity. For example, imports can enter a freeport with simplified customs checks and without paying tariffs.
The three development areas proposed for tax sites in the Liverpool City Region freeport are Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters mixed-use scheme, Langtree’s Parkside colliery regeneration in St Helens, and Stobart’s 3MG [Mersey Multi Modal Gateway] development in Widnes.
Peel L&P’s proposed multi-modal terminal on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford was also included in Liverpool City Region’s bid, despite it being in Greater Manchester.
Asif Hamid, LEP chair, said: “The Freeport offers a huge opportunity to accelerate our economic growth and create thousands of new jobs for the local community.
“In Tom we have a leader with impeccable credentials and a proven track record in bringing the public and private sector together to great effect all over the world.”
Recruitment of other members of the board is ongoing and the board will formally be established in the autumn.