Lord Mayor looks beyond Brexit
Later this month, the UK is set to leave the European Union and begin a new chapter in our history as a trading nation. Our neighbours on the continent will, of course, continue to be important partners long after Brexit.
We also, however, need to redouble our efforts to seize new opportunities across the globe to ensure the City remains a world leading international financial centre. That is precisely what I have been doing alongside innovative UK firms in recent months.
My first overseas visit in December sought to strengthen trade and investment ties with North America. Trade between the UK and Canada, the US and Mexico is worth more than £200bn and yet there are still many areas where we can strengthen these relationships.
In Vancouver and San Francisco, I focused on promoting digital innovation – a central pillar of my ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today’ programme. A group of exciting British fintech firms joined me in Silicon Valley and I believe there is no reason why the UK cannot be home to the next Facebook, Google or Amazon, given our creative energy and rapidly growing cluster of tech expertise.
Fintech already generates £7bn for the UK economy and employs over 76,500 people across the country. In 2017 alone, £1.2bn of fintech venture capital was raised here. The Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory sandbox is also helping fintechs to bring their products to market.
The focus in Mexico City was engaging with the new presidential administration, as well as exploring partnership opportunities in green finance – another area of strength for the City. Both fintech and green finance were also high up the agenda during a visit to Kuwait and the UAE, as well as my recent visit to four cities across Asia: Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore.
These are rapidly growing markets. For example, by 2025 Asia is forecast to account for nearly half the world’s GDP. This seismic shift in the global economy presents huge opportunities for the UK to strengthen mutually beneficial ties, as demand for the services and expertise provided by City firms continues to grow.
The UK’s success as a world leading financial hub has been underpinned by our ability to innovate and tap into new markets. I am confident that these qualities will endure well beyond Brexit and ensure we rise to the challenge of this exciting new chapter in our trading history.
Peter Estlin is 691st Lord Mayor of the City of London, an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and member of the London Society of Chartered Accountants.
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