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Government raises hopes for foreign contract prospects

WINNING OVERSEAS contracts could become easier following the creation of the Government's new exports promotion department, British Trade International.

But industry consultants and contractors warned that UK construction still risked being sidelined in favour of more tangible exports from the manufacturing sector.

The new body has been formed by merging Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Department of Trade & Industry export promotions. It is intended to cut bureaucracy and harmonise export policy between the UK and foreign consulates and so give firms more help when attempting to win work abroad.

But British Consultants Bureau director Mark Bostock said that although construction consultants offered significant potential for earning revenue overseas, 'invisible exports like service industries are often difficult for civil servants to see'.

Senior vice president for Kvaerner Construction Mike Napier also warned that 'final judgement on BTI must be reserved until it is fully operational'.

Despite these reservations, there is wide ranging approval for the rationalisation.

BTI will be led by chief executive Sir David Wright with board members drawn from the private sector. The new agency intends to become more accessible, and therefore useful, to the potential exporters.

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