U.K. fi­nance lob­by­ists to talk Brexit op­tions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

LON­DON — Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Lon­don’s fi­nan­cial sec­tor will head to Brus­sels on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss Brexit, the first such meet­ing with of­fi­cials there since Bri­tain’s di­vorce talks with the EU be­gan last month.

The meet­ing comes at a time of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic un­cer­tainty in Bri­tain, with many busi­nesses wor­ried that Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May will opt for a “hard Brexit” that would iso­late the coun­try from the Euro­pean Union’s sin­gle, tar­iff-less mar­ket. Lob­by­ing group TheCi­tyUK have pre­vi­ously called for “mu­tual mar­ket ac­cess” and the “ac­cep­tance of pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions, prac­tice rights, stan­dards for reg­u­lated prod­ucts and ser­vices” be­tween post-Brexit Bri­tain and the EU, a stance at odds with May’s plan. TheCi­tyUK will re­lease an­other re­port on the is­sue in up­com­ing months.

Bri­tish banks have a lot to lose in a “hard Brexit,” as they would be de­prived of so-called pass­port­ing rights, which al­low fi­nan­cial ser­vices to op­er­ate freely through­out the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket with stan­dard reg­u­la­tion. Adapt­ing to that by, for ex­am­ple, open­ing of­fices in an EU coun­try, would cost Bri­tish banks’ an es­ti­mated 15 bil­lion eu­ros ($17 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the Association of Fi­nan­cial Mar­kets in Europe. And many North Amer­i­can and Asian banks with Euro­pean head­quar­ters in Lon­don have al­ready threat­ened to move jobs and oper­a­tions to a city in a re­main­ing EU coun­try should Bri­tain lose its EU pass­port­ing rights. Ja­pan’s Su­mit­omo Mit­sui Fi­nan­cial Group said Mon­day that it would be the lat­est group to move their EU head­quar­ters from Bri­tain to Ger­many over fears that Brexit could lead to “fu­ture re­stric­tions.”

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