Introduction to the British Water Sector
My personal interest in China started when I was an undergraduate atthe Cambridge University. The master of the college where I was studying wasDr. Joe Needham, an eminent scientist and a staunch friend of China. At formerdinners, he used to give us fascinating accounts of his visits to China in the1940s, 50s and 60s when he was collecting information for major work that he producedcalled “History of Scientific Achievements in China”. I’m sure he’d be veryimpressed by the technological advances that can be seen in China now, althoughI don’t think he would be surprised.
I would now like to briefly touch on three topics: the reasons whywe have developed a UK water sector capability statement, what UK Trade andInvestment is, and what you will find in this capability statement.
Now the capability statement has been set up on a website－www.ukwater.biz,and it has been done this way so that any UK company with water sectorexpertise can put this expertise on the website and any potential client inChina can go to that website to find information. As Richard Wood has said, weare very proud of the achievements that have been made in the UK in the water sector.Formal water service delivery has been developing during the last 200 years allso, but it has taken great steps forward in the last thirty years. Horuna Titelwill tell you more about this in her talk later on. During the thirty years,water service delivery has moved from being municipality-based, as it is inmany parts of the world, to being based on river basins, and subsequently tobeing based on river basins but delivered by the private sector. There areabout 500 companies in the UK helping in various ways to deliver water servicesand these companies employ 80,000 people. These companies range from the majorwater service companies, through consultants, contractors, specialists, suppliers,and manufacturers and consultants of all sorts. Some of these firms will betalking to you in a moment. All the skills of the water sector in U.K. arepotentially available to the global community.
Now what is UK Trade and Investment? Well, it is a governmentdepartment, that has been given responsibility for supporting and promotinginternational trade. This is not only for the sake of the international tradeitself, but also because research has shown that those companies that export aremore efficient and profitable than those who don’t. Information is obtainedabout market potential from the commercial departments of British embassies andBritish Consulate Generals. And this is disseminated through regional UK Tradeand Investment offices and through trade associations like UK Water, who areleading this mission. UK Trade and Investment therefore acts as a facilitatorfor establishing global networks, linking potential clients with UK companiesand this, we hope, will lead to partnerships with the UK water industry.
Richard Wood has told you something about the UK regulatory andlegislative system. And you will hear more from other speakers in a moment. Whydo we call this regulatory framwork a success?Well, we believe it is a successfor several reasons:
It has delivered the government’s objectives in the water sector.And one of the first examples of this was the way that the private watercompanies delivered major improvements in the water service delivery serviceusing private finance, thereby avoiding the need for government finance.
A second success was the way in which the environment has beenprotected. An example of this is the significant improvement that has been madein river water quality, and hence in the ecological status of rivers inEngland.
The third point is the standard of service delivered to customers inUnited Kingdom has been maintained and improved to meet ever more stringentstandards.
And the fourth success is that customers have been protected, andparticularly this is in connection with water tariffs when the water service isprovided by in fact what are in fact monopolies.
In summary, we believe that the water sector in Britain is a truecooperation between the public sector and the private sector, a cooperation inwhich both sides do what they are able to do best.
Now the water business process requires a range of skills at variousstages. Now the stages are shown in this slide: design, manufacturing andconstruction, operation; and skills areas are finance, legal advice, businessstructures, regulation, and all kinds of feasibility studies.
Finally, I just want to return to the UK international watercapability statement. I believe that some of you have been collecting thisbrochure on your way in; and if you haven’t, I hope you will when you go out.It contains two CDs which are both in English and in Chinese. One of them is a moredetailed presentation than the one I am giving you now and the other containslinks to the website and the website itself contains links to the websites ofthe over 1500 companies that are registered on it.
When you enter the website, you can carry out searches by company,by brand, and by product of service. And also on the website are caseshistories provided by various companies, which you might find of interest.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your attention. I hopethat you will find the website interesting and the capability statement willalso be of interest and leads to long-term partnerships with UK firms.