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Construction losing out on export opportunities

BRITISH CONSTRUCTION companies miss out on billions of pounds worth of export business each year because their trade associations have failed to link up with each other and Government, says a report published this week.

Contractors, suppliers and fabricators are losing out to foreign competitors too often, it says.

The Sector partnership report: promotion and development of export trade, published by Government export promoter Trade Partners UK, blames missed opportunities on the absence of adequate links between trade associations, the Government and government representatives posted overseas.

'There are no formal export strategies at sector or subsector level, ' the report states.

It adds that compared with the aeronautics industry, for example, 'the exercising of diplomatic influence and networking is less evident within the (construction) sector'.

But Association of Consulting Engineers director for business affairs Chris Erwin-Childs refuted the findings. He said construction export briefings available to overseas representatives from trade organisations and the Government were better than at any other time in the last 20 years.

'The only point where we now fall down is that we play fair, ' he said. Unlike other nations the UK does not sell construction services as a package, instead encouraging clients to select their suppliers and contractors according to who offers best value, Erwin-Childs added.

'But that pays dividends in repeat business for successful UK firms, ' he said.

Sector partnership report: promotion and development of export trade can be ordered from Trade Partners UK, www.tradepartners.gov.uk

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