The European Rail Supply Industry supplies around one half of the global demand for rail supplies and over 80% of the European demand for rail products

With a global market share of more than 50% of the worldwide production of rail equipment and services, the European rail industry has established itself as a worldwide leader and has a long history as an exporting industry.

In this respect, the opening of new rail business opportunities in several regions of the world – such as the building of major rail networks in the Middle East or China or the blossoming US urban transport market – are viewed as key opportunities for UNIFE member companies.
At the same time, the European rail industry increasingly meets competition from foreign suppliers on the European market. Whilst the European industry is fully prepared to face the competition and is in favour of liberalising of global trade, it expects third countries to equally open their markets to European suppliers in return.

UNIFE is therefore working on:

  • Monitoring trade issues and dossiers where the interests of the European rail industry are at stake. This usually concerns prominent markets where trade negotiations between the EU and its partners are ongoing or foreseen, and where barriers to enter the market exist. This also targets plurilateral or multilateral agreements impacting the EU rail industry (OECD export credits, WTO Agreement on Government Procurement etc.).
  • Promoting industry standards outside the EU in order to disseminate European expertise on a number of key topics (interoperability, safety, signaling etc.) and to maintain the leadership of the European rail industry. In this respect, UNIFE acts as a catalyst and develops bilateral relations with its foreign counterparts.

Japan: EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations
The lack of accessibility and transparency of the Japanese rail market remains a major source of concern for the European industry. Despite the existing WTO Agreement on Public Procurement (GPA), under which EU countries have opened their rail market to Japanese bidders, foreign bidders only won an estimated 0.25% of the Japanese Rolling Stock market – a share which is explained by the exclusion of foreign bidders from the Japanese market. UNIFE believes that such situation is unacceptable, especially at a time Japanese companies are winning major orders in Europe, where they benefit from a deregulated and open market.

Rail is a crucial part of the Commission’s mandate for the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement negotiations, as a result of UNIFE’s pressure to level the playing field between the both trading partners. UNIFE’s campaign continues to receive the full political support at highest level within the European Commission and an opening of the Japanese railway market is also supported by a large number of Member States.

US: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and bilateral relations with US counterparts
UNIFE welcomed the launch of the negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as an unprecedented opportunity to boost EU competitiveness and generate much needed jobs and growth. Although many European rail manufacturers are global and have established themselves on the US market, they face a number of trade barriers. UNIFE therefore monitors closely the ongoing negotiations, in particular with respect to public procurement and local content requirements.

Furthermore, UNIFE strives to build a long-term partnership with its counterparts in order to advance the cause of rail transport in the US, both for mainlines (including high-speed rail) and urban transport. In November 2013, UNIFE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in the presence of high-level officials. The agreements aims to reinforce ties between the European and US rail sectors through increased exchanges on different topics such as rail standards. The signature of the MoU complements the existing cooperation between the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the European Railway Agency (ERA) in July 2012.

China: EU-China Investment Agreement
In November 2013, the EU and China kicked off negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement during the 16th EU-China summit. The EU-China investment agreement will improve access to the Chinese market and provide EU investors in China a high level of investment protection in a single, coherent text.

UNIFE supports the launch of the negotiations and welcomes them as a positive step forward to facilitate European business in China. In particular, access to market should be a cornerstone of future negotiations, addressing important issues like transparency in procurement procedures and mandatory joint ventures for manufacturing and services industries.

Brazil: Cooperation with ANTT and other rail stakeholders
Brazil is the EU’s largest trading partner in Latin America, and is a key market for European railway business with significant investments foreseen in the coming years by Brazilian authorities (infrastructure, signalling etc.).

In September 2014, during Innotrans, a Memorandum of Understanding between the European Railway Agency and the Brazilian National Ground Transportation Agency (ANTT) was signed. In this framework, UNIFE has initiated cooperation with ANTT and other rail stakeholders on topics such as interoperability, safety and signalling technologies.

Russia: Long-lasting partnership with NP-UIRE
Russia continues to be an important and attractive market for the European rail industry, with significant investments foreseen especially in the rolling stock (replacement and extensions of trams, light rail and electric locomotives).

As more and more UNIFE members are investing in Russia and forming joint ventures with Russian companies, UNIFE too cooperates with its Russian counterpart, the Non-Commercial Partnership of the Russian Rail Industry (NP-UIRE) in order to strengthen ties between the European and Russian railway sectors. The latest Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed in September 2015, aims to foster the development of new technology in the European and Russian markets promote the International Railway Industry Standard (IRIS), and harmonise technical legislation and standards in the field of rail transport


For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Nguyen
Public Affairs Manager
+32 2 431 04 60