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Sun June 13 2021

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Foreign-owned businesses dominate construction’s Brexit talks

15 Dec 16 Government ministers responsible for negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU sought advice from construction industry representatives this week.

The meeting with construction leaders at the Institution of Civil Engineers was called by the Department for Exiting the EU as it seeks to get a handle on how best to fulfil its remit and to settle uncertainty that has impacted upon the economy since the referendum.

Perhaps surprisingly, of the five companies invited to the meeting with Brexit minister David Jones and business minister Jesse Norman, only one was British owned – Balfour Beatty.

The other four companies at the meeting are all subsidiaries of businesses from other EU countries: Arcadis (Dutch), Skanska (Swedish), Tarmac (Irish) and Vinci (French).

Dominance of foreign-owned business in ministers’ Brexit meetings was also evident at a similar meeting with the automotive sector this week, where there were representatives from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Caterpillar. However, at that meeting there were also three British owned companies invited: JCB, McLaren and Triumph Motorcycles.

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Other people at the construction meeting were representing industry associations and institutions: Build UK, the Construction Products Association, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Someone from Crossrail was there too.

Construction Products Association chief executive Diana Montgomery was happy enough with the outcome. She said: “The construction products manufacturing and distribution sector, comprising more than a third of total UK construction turnover, is keen to continue partnering with government and maintaining stability and economic growth for the long-term. We appreciate the government’s ambition to consult with industry and allow us to convey our views, concerns and solutions to the challenges ahead.”

Brexit minister David Jones said: “Britain is a world leader in infrastructure design, delivery and operation and we are determined to see this position protected and enhanced as we leave the EU. The discussion today provided me with useful insights on the priorities for this industry as we approach negotiations and I look forward to working with them in the future.”

Minister for industry and energy Jesse Norman said: “Infrastructure projects are vital to the long term success of our economy and I was pleased to hear directly from industry today on their priorities going forward.  It is important that we work closely with industry on developing a comprehensive industrial strategy in order to stimulate productivity and produce the high skilled jobs needed to grow our economy.”

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