In a fresh boost for British prospects outside the EU, the Chancellor and his Swiss counterpart Ueli Maurer signed a joint commitment to work on a new international financial services agreement. Treasury officials said the move – seeking to reduce costs and trade barriers – showed the Government’s ambition for the UK to cement its role as an international financial centre once fully independent of Brussels next year.
Mr Sunak said: “The UK’s financial sector is integral to the success of the British economy, creating jobs, driving regional growth, and contributing taxes that pay for essential public services.
“Leaving the EU means we are now free to chart our own course, driven by our clear values as a financial centre: a safe and transparent place to do business, innovative markets that drive change for the better, and openness to the whole world.
“Today’s agreement is about our vision of the world economy as open, global and free – a vision shared by Switzerland, with our long history of trade and finance”.
Miles Celic, chief executive of financial services representative body TheCityUK, said: “The UK and Switzerland are natural partners for financial and related professional services trade.
Rishi Sunak posted about the move on Twitter
Rishi Sunak secured the commitment on Tuesday
“As the first and third largest net exporters of these services globally, both countries are committed to developing high-quality global standards and maintaining open and efficient markets.
“These discussions present an opportunity to set a new gold standard for global services trade between two sovereign nations.”
It comes as the UK and the European Union are yet to secure a significant breakthrough in negotiations.
The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, met for face to face talks in Brussels on Monday.
Rishi Sunak: ‘Our ambition to negotiate an agreement on financial services’
Leaving the EU means we are now free to chart our own course
It was the first time the talks have been conducted in person since the coronavirus crisis erupted.
Mr Frost, the head of Downing Street’s Task Force Europe, had a team of 20 British negotiators during this week’s round of talks, the first since Mr Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to accelerate the process.
The two sides will hold separate sessions across five days in a bid to break the deadlock.
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Brexit deadline chart
Over five previous negotiating rounds, the EU has refused to budge from its hardline demands for a regulatory level-playing field, with a role for the European Court of Justice, and continued access to Britain’s fishing waters.
But the EU has vowed to be more flexible in order to strike a deal.
A European Commission spokesman said: “Our overall message this week but also for the coming weeks and coming months is to intensify our negotiations in order to make progress in order to get a deal.”
Michel Barnier and David Frost are yet to break the deadlock in talks
After the first day of talks, Mr Barnier said: “We will make the most of our intensified talks over the coming weeks and months.
“Our goal: a comprehensive future relationship with the United Kingdom.
“The EU remains calm and united in its principles and values.”