Post-Brexit UK seeks stronger ties with like-minded economies like Hong Kong

Andrew Parmley says, as the UK redefines its partnerships after voting to leave the EU, London aims for ever closer collaboration with Asia’s leading financial centre, particularly in education and start-ups

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 1:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 8:51pm

As a result of the British public voting to leave the EU last year, my role as representative of the UK’s financial and professional services industry is now more important than ever. The world is watching to see how the UK redefines and establishes its future relationship with the European Union and the rest of its global partners.

There has been much debate about how the UK’s departure from the EU will affect London’s future. Yes, challenges remain. However, London, like the broader UK economy, has shown itself to be remarkably innovative, and adaptable over the years.

I am confident that London’s depth of talent, our attractiveness as a place to work and live, and assets like the English rule of law, language and our regulatory landscape will mean we remain the No 1 global financial centre.

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My primary message is that the UK remains open for business and is looking to build ever stronger and deeper partnerships with like-minded centres like Hong Kong.

There are many ... ways in which Hong Kong and London can complement one another

In the financial sector, we have common cause in a number of emerging areas, ranging from financial technology (FinTech) to green finance, trade financing, cyber security and developing the offshore renminbi market. FinTech is booming in the UK, with over 44,000 jobs in the industry and a value at over £20 billion (HK$193.5 billion). There are already strong regulatory and governmental links here and some exciting proposals to deepen collaboration between the UK’s research and start-up scene, and Cyberport and the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute here.

There are many other ways in which Hong Kong and London can complement one another, playing to the strengths of London as the world’s leading financial centre and Hong Kong’s as the channel for mainland investment amid a competitive Asian market.

Asian banks unwilling to give up London

There has been much debate in Hong Kong about how it can retain its place as a top financial centre. A lively debate is also taking place in London, and let me highlight the issue of attracting and retaining talent. One of my main requests of the British government in EU negotiations is that British businesses maintain access to talented individuals from across the world. This has been a key part of London’s success.

The weaker pound is making the UK a more attractive destination

Hong Kong is part of London’s success story, with nearly 17,000 Hongkongers coming to the UK to study in our world-leading universities every year. Continuing this educational connection is vital.

We will be working hard to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal with our European neighbours, but also to deepen our relationships with leading economies across the world, including here in Hong Kong.

Andrew Parmley is Lord Mayor of the City of London