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DfT probes overseas markets for UK transport enterprises


18 August 2017

The UK has world-leading transport consultants who can play a part in winning more work overseas for a post-Brexit UK, a review for the DfT has concluded. 

The Department commissioned consultant PwC to assess the capability of the UK’s transport infrastructure supply chain earlier this year. PwC studied products and services relating to the planning, design, financing, construction and operation of rail, road, airport and maritime port infrastructure, including rolling stock and digital systems.   

“The research highlighted a wide variation in the strength of the UK’s supply base across different capabilities and (to a lesser extent) across different transport modes,” the DfT reports. 

“In some areas the UK has world-leading suppliers and a substantial trade surplus, whereas in others the UK does not have sufficient capability to satisfy UK demand, leading to a significant trade deficit.” 

PwC highlighted the UK’s “world-leading competency across all activities within the professional and financial services, planning, management and design services capabilities”.

“In operations, maintenance and upgrade services, the UK is particularly strong in airport and road management but it is more limited in rail and maritime ports,” says the DfT.

PwC identified weaknesses in the UK’s transport infrastructure construction sector. “The UK’s competency across the construction capability is severely limited, both with regard to construction contractors, and specific construction activities within each transport mode,” says the DfT. 

“The nature of the UK supply chain is highly fragmented, we are lacking Tier 1 constructors and UK firms are dependent on forming consortia to compete internationally.”

The Department says the UK’s competency in the manufacturing and technology sectors of transport, “is hugely divergent across specific niches within each transport mode”. 

“In certain areas the UK is truly world-class (security systems, airport IT systems, traffic monitoring and control systems). 

“In other areas the UK has little to no competency (such as in goods handling equipment for the maritime/ports sector).”

The Department is commissioning an eight-week follow-up study of possible overseas markets including the barriers that hamper access to “high value international markets”.  

Among questions the DfT wants answers to are: “What are the specific market entry obstacles that our transport suppliers face and what could Government do to address this? And what do our main competitors do better than us and why?”

Foreign Office eyes Chinese EV market 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is exploring how UK businesses can help the uptake of low carbon road transport in China. 

Low carbon road transport is a “key pillar” of the Government’s £1.3bn five-year Prosperity Fund, the purpose of which is to “drive sustainable development in developing countries, and create opportunities for international business, including UK companies”.

The fund forms part of the UK Government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development assistance.

The FCO is procuring a consultant to advise on a programme to encourage low carbon road transport in China “in a way that impacts positively on greenhouse gas emission reduction, promotes UK science innovation and policy expertise, and supports market access for UK business”. 

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Slough Borough Council
Observatory House, 25 Windsor Road, Slough
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