UK rail companies to benefit from Australia Free Trade Agreement

With an Australia trade deal on the horizon, British rail companies are on course to benefitting from a potential export boom.

A UK-Australia deal will remove the existing 5% export tariff on rail products, in theory cutting costs, consequently making British bids more competitive.

Acting as the highest priority country for UK rail exporters, Australia is set to have more than £82b invested into its networks over the next decade, which involves cross-country lines and upgraded metros in cities such as Melbourne.  

All current tariffs on rail-related goods - including railway stock, track fixtures and fittings, and traffic signalling equipment - will be dropped, increasing competitiveness between UK companies bidding for Australian government contracts worth billions of pounds.

New, legally guaranteed access to bid for Australian government contracts will also be made available to British rail companies, offering an even footing versus their Australian competitors.

International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, said “our rail exports industry is a Global Britain success story. Australia is undergoing a huge reconstruction of its train networks and this trade deal will allow British companies to be even more competitive when bidding for these massive, multi-billion-pound infrastructure projects.”

She added, “these major contracts will support high value jobs up and down the UK, and allow more of our professionals to live, work and enjoy life on the other side of the world.”

Australia’s rail sector is already benefitting from British successes, and the deal will allow rail companies to build upon them.

Some include manufacturer Altro’s floor covering, used in the refurbishment of Melbourne’s Trams, and on trains in Victoria and Queensland; and consultancy firm Ricardo, making 25% of its rail revenue in Australia following winning several high-profile projects.

The deal will also give UK employees greater autonomy to work in the Land Down Under, whilst providing Brits under the age of 35 the opportunity to travel and work in Australia for up to 3 years, in sectors such as construction and services.

Chairman of the Railway Industry Association, David Tonkin, said “many UK rail suppliers already trade with Australia - from manufacturing firms in Doncaster to design companies in London – and with a Free Trade Agreement they can deliver even more.”

The Chairman continued, “with Australia voted as the number one priority market for rail businesses in the UK, a trade deal will be welcome news to many, allowing them to more easily sell our world-leading products and services into the market.”

He added, “the UK rail industry is a major exporter, selling £800 million each year across the world and it has a pivotal role to play in achieving the Government’s vision of a ‘Global Britain’, supporting a clean, environmentally-friendly form of transport both at home and abroad.”

Furthermore, the Department for International Trade and Innovate UK is launching a competition to support small, UK companies in the rail sector to innovate globally.

Grants of up to £50,000 are up for grabs, with the competition set to help companies access growing markets in countries such as Australia, India, and Canada.

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