Banks pre­pare to quit Brexit Bri­tain

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL banks based in Bri­tain are ready­ing to re­lo­cate some op­er­a­tions out­side of the coun­try in 2017, fear­ing post-Brexit un­cer­tainty, the di­rec­tor of a pow­er­ful bank­ing lobby said.

“Their hands are quiv­er­ing over the re­lo­cate but­ton,” An­thony Browne, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish Bankers As­so­ci­a­tion, wrote in The Ob­server news­pa­per.

He said banks were un­cer­tain about whether they would be able to of­fer ser­vices across Europe once Bri­tain leaves the EU in 2019, so were ready­ing for all even­tu­al­i­ties.

Bri­tain has said it will trig­ger the two-year ne­go­ti­a­tions clock be­fore leav­ing the EU be­tween the New Year and the end of March.

Banks have called for tran­si­tion ar­range­ments to be put in place af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU.

Mr Browne said banks based in the UK were lend­ing £1.1 tril­lion (US$1.3 tril­lion) to com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments in the rest of the Euro­pean Union, “keep­ing the con­ti­nent afloat fi­nan­cially”.

Free trade in fi­nan­cial ser­vices be­tween Bri­tain and con­ti­nen­tal Europe was worth more than £20 bil­lion, he said.

If Brexit is bun­gled, that trade is at risk, “and the pub­lic and po­lit­i­cal de­bate is tak­ing us in the wrong di­rec­tion”, he wrote.

Mr Browne said bank­ing was more af­fected by Brexit than any other sec­tor of the econ­omy, as it is eas­ily Bri­tain’s big­gest ex­port in­dus­try.

“The prob­lem comes – as seems in­creas­ingly likely, judg­ing by the rhetoric – when na­tional gov­ern­ments try to use the EU exit ne­go­ti­a­tions to build walls across the Chan­nel to split Europe’s in­te­grated fi­nan­cial mar­ket in two, in or­der to force jobs from Lon­don,” he wrote.

He said it was ir­ra­tional that the EU wanted to re­duce trade bar­ri­ers with the United States and Canada and im­pose them on Bri­tain, “their big­gest trad­ing part­ner”.

“Banks might hope for the best but have to plan for the worst,” he wrote.

Mr Browne said most in­ter­na­tional banks now have project teams work­ing out which op­er­a­tions they need to move to en­sure they can con­tinue serv­ing cus­tomers.

“Their hands are over the re­lo­cate but­ton. Many smaller banks plan to start re­lo­ca­tions be­fore Christ­mas; big­ger banks are ex­pected to start in the first quar­ter of next year.

Lon­don will sur­vive as a global fi­nan­cial cen­tre, he said, adding, “Fi­nance is in­ven­tive and will find a way through.

“But putting up bar­ri­ers to the trade in fi­nan­cial ser­vices across the Chan­nel will make us all worse off, not just in the UK but in main­land Europe.” –

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