Brits want Baltic EU infrastructure contracts despite Brexit

Take note – story published 7 years ago

A delegation of British rail industry representatives is in Latvia this week trying to climb aboard the European Union's major Rail Baltica infrastructure project - even as the United Kingdom exits the EU itself. 

Rail Baltica, is a huge decade-long project to build a rail line connecting the Baltic capitals is worth an estimated €5 billion. Despite the total lack of clarity on whether Britain will be part of the single market in future, if new tariffs will apply and whether UK and EU legislation on issues such as standards will still be compatible, UK companies feel they can offer something, British Rail Industry Association representative Neil Walker told Latvian Radio's Madara Fridrihsone.

"The Rail Baltica team has already visited the UK to learn from our experience," said Walker.

"The UK rail industry is active worldwide. We consider ourselves competitive and can offer a wide range of expertise, professional services, consultants, suppliers, technology, and we have new high-tech in the field. I would also like to note the fact that the British railways is one of the safest railways in Europe. So our contribution to this project may be in skills and expertise. And given that our company is active all over the world, it is quite natural that such important projects like this tempt UK companies," said Walker.

While the collapse of the pound following the 'Brexit' vote makes British exports more competitive in the short term, the uncertainty allied to doing business with Britain in coming years, plus possible future currency fluctuations, mean the UK will really have to offer and deliver something special to get ahead of German, Dutch, French and other EU businesses who will have the benefit of identical regulatory regimes, a single currency and closer physical proximity to Latvia. 

China, which will be the centerpiece of a major transport and business investment seminar in Riga on November 5, has also expressed its interest in Rail Baltica and sent a delegation to explore the project months ago.

Add to that the fact Rail Baltica will be 85% financed by the European Union, and British companies will be pulling off something of a coup if they manage to land contracts connected with the project.

"I'm not a politician, but I certainly would like to continue trading. We are a nation of traders and want to continue to work with the European Union," said Walker.

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