Construction offers Global Britain a £11.5bn export opportunity

Latest research from Mace shows that British construction expertise could unlock a £400bn boost to the delivery of infrastructure programmes around the world. 
If UK firms could raise construction services’ share of exports from 0.4% to just 1%, they could generate an additional £11.5bn in export revenues and create an additional 142,000 jobs across the country. 
New ‘Construction Partner Index’ shows top targets for future construction services exports, including Singapore, Denmark, India, the UAE and Norway. 

New research from Mace has highlighted the huge opportunity available for British construction, engineering and design firms to improve global project delivery, boost UK exports and create jobs. 

Mace’s latest Insight report, “Global Britain – the built environment as a growth export” identifies the huge scope of opportunity on offer, highlights a number of recommendations for the UK Government and industry to unlock future trading, and presents the 'Construction Partner Index’ – an authoritative ranking of potential global trading partners. 

The last three years have seen the export of construction services from the UK jump from £3bn to £4.6bn, an increase of 53% - but if that growth could be boosted, Mace estimates the value of export services in the sector could grow to £11.5bn, creating 142,000 new, high paying jobs across the UK. 

In particular, the report highlights the potential of the ‘delivery partner’ model, an integrated and collaborative approach to programme delivery that helps to keep mega-projects on track and on programme – a model that has been used successfully to deliver some of the world’s most complex projects, including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Dubai Expo 2020 and a multi-billion-pound resilience and recovery programme in Peru. 

To help support the UK’s global growth ambitions, the report suggests a series of recommendations for government and industry to deliver together, including: 

Incentivising exports as a priority for UK firms through export tax credits. 
The prioritisation of construction services in current and proposed trading agreements. 
The negotiation of mutual recognition of engineering, design and other construction-related qualifications.
Targeting more Government-to-Government infrastructure contracts with our global partners. 
Boosting funding and engagement for UK Export Finance to support British companies bidding on international programmes. 

Jason Millett, Mace’s CEO for Consult, said:

“Although it might not always be recognised at home, the UK’s construction expertise is highly valued around the world – from Peru to Singapore, the British are known as straight-forward delivery experts. This report highlights the huge growth on offer if we can capitalise on that reputation and help to deliver more of the world’s global mega-projects.

“By working together, the Government and industry have the potential to create thousands of highly-paying export jobs – as well as partnering with government and private developers across the world to ensure that vital infrastructure programmes can be delivered on time and on budget.”

Mace’s report presents for the first time the ‘Construction Partner Index’, a global ranking of 78 countries, highlighting potential export opportunities in countries with strong growth potential, accessible construction markets and aligned legal and governance systems. 

The resulting ranking highlights not just the biggest global economies, such as India and China – but shows strong UK export potential to the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe. 

Mapped over time, the Index also shows countries that have significantly improved their favourability for UK construction exports, including the UAE (jumping 28 places over the last 10 years), Bangladesh, the Philippines and Argentina (each climbing 18 places since 2012). 

The top twenty countries in the Construction Partner Index are ranked below: 

 Rank  Country   Rank Country 
 1  India 11 UAE
 2 China 12 Sweden
 3 Ireland 13  Canada
4 USA 14  New Zealand
5 Norway 15 Kuwait
6 Switzerland 16 Hong Kong
7 Denmark 17 Japan
 8 Australia 18 Germany
9 Singapore 19 Israel
10 Netherlands 20 Belgium

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