Built environment professionals were at the NLA last week to get valuable hints and tips on how to work abroad from the UK’s Department for International Trade – and from those who make it happen in five separate hotspots around the world.
The world has changed, said Raphael Channer, International Trade Advisor, DIT London at last Friday’s ‘Meet the Buyer’ breakfast talk, and we need to start looking at the bigger picture, where there is a ‘rich diversity of opportunities that are now open to you.’ These include those in the strategic growth markets of Asia and East Africa, and still some hotspots in the EU. ‘Let me take the opportunity to reassure you that there is a real world of opportunity out there’, said Channer, ‘no matter what the political and economic uncertainties might lead you to believe’. The global economy is growing at twice the rate of the UK’s, and the DIT can help firms with its events, trade delegations, assistance on registering for export opportunities, profile creation, and even a small amount of funding. But it was important for those thinking about exporting to reflect, research and review, sketching out business plan and avoiding trying to take over the world at once. ‘As our ad campaign said: the demand is out there, why aren’t you?’
Aaron Francis Chan, Head of Inward Investment, British Embassy Manila said a lot of the development opportunities coming up are in the north around Manila, with growth drivers including foreign earnings coming back in and an expectation of greater urbanization for a city that has an unofficial population of 12million but is probably closer to 20m. Chan said planning for this environment is getting more complex, requiring more sophistication and ‘differentiation’ as developers take on big masterplans of up to 1000 acres. ‘That’s where you guys come in’, he said, citing developers such as AyalaLand and SM Prime. ‘These are the guys who are going to make business great for you. Come to Manila and have us show you around.’
Kenya, said Enoch Mwita, Trade Development Manager – Infrastructure Lead, British High Commission, Nairobi is experiencing some of the fastest growth rates in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on infrastructure, renewable energy and property driven by urbanization. Ongoing mega projects include what will be the tallest building in Africa, and although there are challenges such as strong competition from the east, security threats, bureaucracy and corruption, there are also plenty of opportunities, said Mwita. ‘Do a lot of research and get to know what is the aim of your business’, he advised.
The conference also heard from David Musil, Business Director, Penta Investments on the relative ease of setting up a business ni the Czech Republic, where his firm is already working with Zaha Hadid Architects, and Arthur Yang, Director, Zuker Property, who had similar words for China. ‘Every single province has an opportunity to build an innovation centre and business park and they need good architects to work with’, he said.
Finally, before a series of one-to-one sessions arranged for 15-minute meetings with potential clients, Minna Seppanen, Project Development Manager, Tampere outlined the situation in her country, known for its good architecture. The city of Tampere has a series of projects aimed at growing it into a ‘five star city’, employing architects like Libeskind. ‘You are very welcome to visit the city of Tampere and do your business with architects there’, said Seppanen.
Editor, New London Quarterly