The British government said it planned to announce the location of up to 10 post-Brexit freeports, or free trade zones, by the end of this year with the hope that they can begin operating in 2021.
“We will be extremely vigilant to prevent any form of unfair competition (from the freeports), whatever the matter, and if we need time to negotiate, we will take it”, Le Drian told the French parliament.
Freeports are areas where imported goods can be held or processed free of customs duties before being exported again. They can also be used to import raw materials and make finished goods for export.
Le Drian said France would work closely with the European Commission on the matter.
Britain wants to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU before the end of the transition period but the negotiations are expected to be tough and complex.