Brexit sparks £1 trillion UK assets switch to EU - GulfToday

Brexit sparks £1 trillion UK assets switch to EU

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UK banks and insurers have shifted more than £1.0 trillion to the European Union in response to Brexit, a study published on Friday found. More than 440 firms operating in the UK banking and finance sector have relocated parts of their business, moved staff or established new EU entities in response to Brexit, according to the study from think-tank New Financial.

The total £1.0 trillion is equivalent to $1.4 trillion or 1.2 trillion euros.

“While this is the most comprehensive analysis yet of the impact of Brexit on the City, we think it is an underestimate: we are only at the end of the beginning of Brexit,” New Financial warned in a report published almost four months after Britain left the EU.

British-based banks have shunted in excess of £900 billion in assets into the bloc, or ten percent of total UK bank assets, according to its analysis.

And insurers have shifted more than £100 billion.

The nation’s departure from the single market ended access to the so-called financial passport, which had allowed UK firms to offer their services across Europe.

London and Brussels signed a memorandum of understanding on financial services last month but have yet to address the topic of equivalence, which allows UK-based firms to operate on the European continent.

Britain finalised its divorce from the European Union on December 31, after clinching a last-gasp trade deal that did not include the powerhouse financial services sector.

“Getting Brexit done is only the end of the beginning of the process: given the limited equivalence arrangements in place, over time we expect there to be a drip-feed of business and activity from the UK to the EU,” the London-based think-tank added on Friday.

“As the EU takes a tougher line on the location of activity and individuals we expect these headline numbers to increase in future.”

Following Brexit, Amsterdam has also overtaken the British capital in European equity trading.

Meanwhile, top European Union and British officials failed to get a breakthrough at talks on Northern Ireland trade rules and said Friday that contact would continue over the coming weeks.

The dinner meeting late Thursday between European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and UK Brexit minister David Frost took place a month after the EU started legal action against its former member country, arguing that the UK had not respected the conditions of the Brexit agreement and violated international law.

A British statement said that “a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them.”

Frost said that “there should be intensified contacts at all levels in the coming weeks.”

The two sides are trying to find common ground on trade rules in Northern Ireland, where Britain’s exit from the EU has unsettled a delicate political balance.

Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. but remained part of the EU’s single market for goods after Brexit to avoid checks at the territory’s border with EU member Ireland. An open Irish border helped underpin the peace process that ended decades of sectarian violence, allowing people in Northern Ireland to feel at home in both Ireland and the U.K.

Unionists say the arrangement the British government and the EU worked out has amounted to the creation of a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The EU and UK agreed on the post-Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve but its application is still provisional until the EU’s legislature approves it, theoretically by the end of the month.

Some EU legislators are threatening to hold back the parliamentary approval vote until they receive further assurances from London on the issues Frost and Sefcovic were discussing.

European Union Parliament committees overwhelmingly backed the trade deal Thursday.

In March, London decided to unilaterally extend a grace period until October on checks for goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland, a decision that led the EU to issue a formal notice to its former member. The UK was given one month to respond.

The European Union’s imports from Britain almost halved in the first two months of the year following the UK exit from the EU single market, data showed on Friday, and the 27-nation bloc’s trade surplus with Britain rose as exports fell by less.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said EU imports from Britain dropped 47.0% year-on-year in January-February to 16.6 billion euros ($19.9 billion) while exports to the United Kingdom declined only 20.2% to 39.8 billion euros.


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