This article explores the multivalent meanings of the free port (porto franco) concept and practices in discussions of duty-free trade in the Russian Far East in the second half of the nineteenth century. A phenomenon of everyday social, economic, and management practices, during this time "porto franco" becomes increasingly wrought with global intra- and interimperial comparisons. Eventually, it becomes a contested topic of an ongoing discussion regarding the political organization of the imperial space, which largely disregarded the economic aspect of the duty-free regime. The article traces the evolving meaning of the "porto franco" concept in the political vocabulary of different groups and in the broader public discourse of the period. Specifically, the stance of Russian nationalists and Siberian regionalists vis-à-vis duty-free trade in the Russian Far East is interpreted in the context of the politicization and nationalization of economic discourse in the modernizing empire.