UK contractors have been told to target more than £10 billion worth of European building works scheduled to commence under fiscal stimulus packages in neighbouring countries.
Since the onset of the global recession, EU governments in Spain, France and Germany have joined the UK in bringing forward plans for construction and guaranteeing cash for big infrastructure projects.
And UK Trade and Investment, the overseas business arm of the department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, has urged UK contractors to be aggressive in seeking contracts on the continent.
UKTI business specialist Steve Spalding said that national sensitivities should not be an issue for UK companies when pitching for work since, under EU rules, companies from each member country must be given the same access to contracts as those from the host.
He added that since the procurement must be “transparent and open to all companies within the EU,” British companies had a compelling sales narrative.
“The requirement to achieve ‘value for money’ currently offers UK suppliers a competitive advantage when pricing their products in Euros,” he said.
UK Contractors’ Group deputy director Rachel Done said that many of its bigger members were international firms with established overseas offices which were well placed to make additional gains on the continent.
While some UK firms may feel there are still borders to securing work within Europe, UKTI chief executive Sir Andrew Cahn said the sheer scale of the projects on the drawing board meant UK companies could expect to pick up many new contracts.
He said: “The size and scale of the construction and infrastructure initiatives announced in France, Germany and Spain means there are plenty of opportunities for UK business to provide expertise and capabilities.
“It’s not just the projects themselves that are of interest to UK companies, but also the associated services and continuing supply opportunities.”
France is investing some £100 billion into its railway stock and stations over the next 20 years and Germany also has a plan to spend more than £600 million upgrading its railways.
Sir Cahn particularly urged smaller contractors with niche skills to look closely at projects and look to UKTI to help “identify and quantify specific opportunities”.
As well as its introductory service, which links companies with key contacts and information, its Passport to Export service is designed to support new and less experienced exporters to gain the skills and confidence they need to operate in export markets.
Businesses receive up to six days’ one-to-one mentoring and consultancy, and grants are available on a match-funded basis.
This week, UKTI will also host a series of regional seminars for companies interested in exploring new business opportunities abroad.
WHAT ARE OUR NEIGHBOURS UP TO?
A snapshot from the UKTI report which show what’s on offer across the Channel
Germany is spending:
- £7.2 million on school and research buildings
- £37 million constructing schools and universities
- £5.8 million on flood protection works
- £40 million on waterway construction in Cuxhaven
- £2.3 million on a contract for architecture, engineering and planning in Koblenz
- £900,000 on road bridge construction
France is spending:
- £16 million on construction works for school buildings in Paris
- £1.1 million on a contract for engineering and inspection in the Rhone-Alpes France
Spain is spending:
- £1.1 million on civil engineering and consultancy projects in Madrid
- £5.4 million on canal construction
- £21.4 million on a works contract for the construction of a University in Ceuta
Source: UK Trade and Investment