City targets US and Swiss for post-Brexit trade boost


The City of London Corporation will attempt to boost trade ties with the United States and Switzerland as it tries desperately to safeguard the UK’s status as a financial and professional services powerhouse post Brexit.

The Corporation’s director of economic development, Damian Nussbaum, this week revealed plans to woo the two countries with promises of policy and investment talks, and more regular visits from top City officials after Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019.

A report presented to the economic development committee said the strategies would allow the Corporation to help set the agenda for the future of the UK’s trade relations with both markets.

It also flagged the Corporation’s unique position as a non-political local authority as a major advantage in facilitating negotiations between government, business and trade associations.

The strategies were unveiled less than a week after Lord Mayor Charles Bowman visited Nigeria as part of a delegation of UK business leaders, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, to boost trade links by pledging £4billion worth of UK investment in Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Now it seems the City will shift its focus to some of the major players outside the EU, with a spokesperson for the Corporation declaring efforts to boost ties with the US and Swiss “a priority”.

“The US and Switzerland are two hugely important partners for the UK,” the spokesperson said.

“These new strategies outline the work we will be doing to drive trade and improve co-operation on international issues in support of the UK’s financial and professional services sector.”

The US accounted for a third of all UK financial services foreign direct investment in 2016 and will be the UK’s single largest trading partner when Britain leaves the European Union.

The report estimated the UK’s financial and professional services exports to the US have the potential to jump from £16bn to a total value of £74bn if the City can improve industry engagement and business intelligence, among other factors flagged for action.

In May this year, the Lord Mayor toured New York, Chicago and Boston to promote trade and develop partnerships in the insurance technology sector.

Switzerland, meanwhile, has been painted as the posterchild for a European financial powerhouse operating outside of the EU, as well as a natural ally for the City to drive bilateral trade partnerships and maintain access to the bloc. The spokesperson for the City Corporation said the Swiss strategy would focus on wealth management, banking, cyber insurance, fintech, insurtech, regtech, and green and development finance. The report estimates the UK’s financial services exports to Switzerland could reach £17bn, up from the current £1.9bn.

The policy and resources committee is expected to vote on the strategy in the next few months.

Photo by Daniel Chapman (Creative Commons).