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PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION

BLACK COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

MEET MARK CHAPMAN:

A LOOK AT INTERNATIONAL TRADE FROM DENMARK

Mark Chapman is a Senior Trade Advisor and current acting Head of Infrastructure for DIT Europe based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Considered a local now, having been with DIT for the past 10 years, he moved to Denmark back in 2006, Mark’s wife is Danish, and his two daughters were born in the country.

From 2016 until the closure of the HVC programme in 2020 he was lead officer on the Infrastructure High-Value Campaign in the Europe North Region covering the Nordic and Baltic nations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“In spite of Covid-19 many billions of pounds will be spent in the coming decades on a raft of major upgrades to the transport infrastructure of this region,” Mark told Prosper, “This was reflected with the approval of a 28.5 billion kroner (£2.5 billion) fund to upgrade Denmark’s rail infrastructure and further record investments in other countries in the region have been proposed, including Norway and Sweden.”

“At the same time,” he continued, “A number of further upgrades will also take place, such as rail signalling projects, mass infrastructure projects such as the Femern Belt Fixed Link, Light Railway projects and the replacement of large sections of track and underlay.”

The EU is playing a major part in plans for the upgrade and development of the rail infrastructure of the Baltics. The largest forthcoming rail project is called Rail Baltica – construction of high quality, European standard gauge rail connection for passenger and freight transport from Tallinn (Estonia) to Warsaw (Poland), via Riga (Latvia) and Kaunas (Lithuania). 

Estimated project costs within the Baltics is €3.7 billion with up to 85% of the project's costs to be co-financed by the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) fund.  

“Helsinki is one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe,” Mark said, “It is expanding powerfully in the inner city on land vacated from former industrial and port operations. Many of Europe’s biggest urban development projects are underway in Helsinki. Opportunities for UK companies exist in the design, engineering and supply chain aspect of the projects.”

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the challenge is to build roads and infrastructure that meet capacity and environmental challenges without compromising traffic safety. The Swedish Government has presented its infrastructure plan – amounting to a staggering 53 billion pounds over a 10-year period on building a strong and sustainable transport system.

 

“Almost £8.8 billion will be used to cover the costs of maintenance and upgrade of state railways, with £19 billion going to the upgrade of the countries rail infrastructure,” Mark told Prosper.

In Norway, the National Transport Plan 2014-2023 proposes a spend of 508 billion NOK (approx. £43bn) over the next ten years for the development of rail, road, ports and airport infrastructure. The Follo Line and the InterCity triangle are prioritised, key investments in the rail sector, to service the rapidly growing population in the greater Oslo region. 

Furthermore, the current government signals opportunities for new financing models (PPP) and the ambition to allow foreign railway operators to enter the market. The Norwegian Ministry of Transport announced in 2012 a strategy for the rollout of ERTMS across the national network with pilot projects already underway.

 

Then Norwegian National Rail Administration also has the ambition to catch up on the extensive maintenance backlog by 2030, and over 17 billion NOK will be used on this alone. 

All these are exciting opportunities but for sheer size, nothing quite rivals the Femern belt Tunnel Project. This new fixed link between Denmark & Germany will comprise of a double-track railway and a four-lane motorway, saving trains a 160 km detour via the Great belt. When completed in 2028 it will be the world’s longest combined road and rail immersed tunnel. 

“As you can see,” concluded Mark, “The Europe North region represents tremendous opportunities for the UK suppliers.  Not only are the markets geographically close to home but many of our Nordic neighbours share a common appreciation for all things British (not least our sense of humour!).

 

"If your organisation would like to be a part of any of the projects then please do get in touch with me and my highly skilled colleagues, as we would be all too happy to help”. 

 

And finally, working during Covid-19?

“Who could have predicted the situation we find ourselves in now?” Mark replied, “DIT has had to adapt fast, and its European Infrastructure Team is no different. The truth is quite a lot has changed for us – mostly for the better! Relationships between colleagues across the European posts and HQ’s Infrastructure Team have grown stronger.

 

"New friendships have been forged through adversity and a feeling of collective responsibility has surfaced from the challenges of Covid-19. Open discussions about our well-being are now a regular occurrence. As is the sharing of memes via Microsoft Teams to keep spirits up!".

  

“While the groundwork for these changes has been laid over recent years by being well integrated in our sub-regions, the Nordic-Baltic and Central European networks, we are working much more closely as one team than ever before. And these close-knit relationships deliver results.

“I’ve witnessed first–hand the excellent work the wider team has delivered, for example, the recent collaboration with the Rail Industry Association in co-hosting a series of ‘UK Export Rail Outreach’ webinars which achieved superb attendee numbers. Work like this is a clear example of how this period has challenged us to explore new ways of engaging with companies, which in turn propels us to work closely with other posts and HQ. 

“All of this makes me very proud to be part of this team. There’s a new energy among colleagues across Europe and HQ, and everyone is more motivated than ever to engage with each other and deliver for UK plc.”

ARUN JOINS THE TEAM 

Arun Dhunna joins the team in the Black Country following his appointment as a Regional Growth Service Advisor (RGS) for the area. 

Bringing over twenty years of experience from the financial services sector, Arun has worked for several large financial organisations within the UK, Europe, the U.S. and Middle East Asia, where he concentrated on business development and sales leadership within International FX, global market trading and selling product suites of banking to multinational organisations.

More recently, Arun has headed up business development for one of the largest financial payment software companies in the world and has a wealth of experience selling into vertical marketplaces, more specifically into the financial services sector.

   

In his role as RGS Advisor, Arun will concentrate his efforts to help businesses new to export and those with a turnover between £64k to £500K.

He will focus on helping businesses with their journey into exporting - helping them understand how exporting works and advising them on how to get their products, solutions and services into international markets.

To contact Arun: arun.dhunna@mobile.trade.gov.uk or 07593 562057

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