The purpose of this paper is to examine whether there is merit in changing the SA policy approach to the local civil engineering and construction works sector. To date, the South African government has always thought about civil engineering and construction works as a domestic-oriented sector. This paper probes the historic and current activities of local firms in the sector and reveals a substantial potential for the sector to compete effectively internationally. This suggests that it is possible for the sector to intensify its contribution to South African GDP and employment not only by operating within South Africa, but also by being a possible export growth sector. The paper shows that while this potential exists, substantial obstacles would need to be overcome to make this higher growth path a reality. The paper does not go as far as to suggest that an export intensive drive should be developed and implemented but suggests that sufficient benefits exist to merit taking the discussion further.