Robin Twyman

Robin Twyman

Consul for Business and Government Affairs

Part of Partners in Prosperity

21st October 2011

UK Companies Look Toward US Infrastructure Investment

 The following is a guest post from Spencer Mahony, HM Consul & UKTI Regional Director for the South East US 

  Spencer Mahony

This week we had a UKTI led UK delegation attend the 3rd Annual North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum hosted by CG/LA Infrastructure in Washington DC. Many of the UK delegates were coming back to the US after a couple of years to see if there would be opportunities to make major investments in US infrastructure and whether Public Private Partnership (PPP) practices would be on the table for these projects.

Obama’s talk of infrastructure investment in his speech on the American Jobs Act had got the attention of these British businesses, but they wanted to come over to see for themselves what, if anything, was going on at the state level to turn these proposals into action and capital.

Some of the companies were very interested in rail. The UK, like the US, has an old network that needs upgrading. Private sector investment has been central in the UK and companies are looking for signs that rail is moving forward. They found Florida remained off the radar since the governor had vetoed the high speed rail plans, but California plans are moving forward.  And while there is much interest in the North East lines, the experts are waiting to see how room could be made for other operators alongside Amtrak. The opportunities are out there (particularly in light rail) but the scope and timing of these remains blurry.  

Interest in PPP in the US seemed a better prospect. Virginia was well represented at our reception for the UK delegates and VIPs. The state has had a PPP unit for some time now and were open to hearing from the UK’s experience of delivering over 600 projects worth over $300b. The CG/LA conference had several other states keen to learn about how PPP can help their infrastructure plans .The jury is still out on the success of PPP in the UK, but this healthy debate is good for the UK and the US as it means the lessons of the UK’s vast experience can be shared and adopted. TheCityUK, with its excellent membership of financial services businesses, were part of the UKTI led delegation and is keen to help share the UK’s offer for infrastructure development.  

The UK companies that attended the Leadership Forum were impressed by what they saw in the US market and several will return again for a deeper look. I was pleased we could help them appreciate the depth and range of opportunity in the US and with our colleagues in TheCityUK there is an open window to help showcase UK experience to our US friends who need to leverage investment at a time when finding money for projects has never been harder. Investment by UK companies in US infrastructure has the potential to strengthen our business ties, creating opportunities for jobs and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.  

About Robin Twyman

Robin Twyman took up his posting as Consul for Business and Government Affairs at the UK Government Office in Seattle in January 2013. He was previously First Secretary (Trade Policy,…

Robin Twyman took up his posting as Consul for Business and Government Affairs at the UK Government Office in Seattle in January 2013. He was previously First Secretary (Trade Policy, Business Affairs and Agriculture) at the British Embassy in Washington.

Born in Canterbury, Kent, in 1968, Robin joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1987. His diplomatic career has seen him serve overseas tours in Harare, Zimbabwe (1989-1992), and Geneva, Switzerland (2001-2006), plus short overseas tours in Mozambique, Mauritius, Russia, Abu Dhabi, Israel, Jordan, DR Congo, Albania, Zambia, Qatar, Nigeria, Syria, and Yemen.

Robin’s assignments have covered a wide range of duties. In Geneva, Robin was a UK delegate to the World Trade Organisation, where his portfolio included the Doha Trade Round’s agriculture negotiations, and trade disputes. Whilst there, he was elected to serve as a chair on one of the WTO’s sub-committees. In the FCO in London, Robin has been a Foreign Office Press Officer (1999-2001), Horn of Africa desk officer, a manager for the UK’s Afghanistan Counter Narcotics programme, and headed up the UK’s South Atlantic Overseas Territories team.