UK and Switzerland to sign post-Brexit financial services deal

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The U.K. and Switzerland are deepening the ties between their financial services sectors with a new post-Brexit deal.

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LONDON — The U.K. and Switzerland on Thursday will sign a post-Brexit financial services deal designed to bring two of Europe’s largest banking centers closer together.

British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt is meeting with his Swiss counterpart, Karin Keller-Sutter, in Bern to sign the mutual recognition agreement, which they are expected to say will ease business ties between financial firms and wealthy individuals in the two markets.

The U.K. Treasury said Wednesday that the deal was a win for post-Brexit Britain that would improve cross-border market access for a range of financial services sold by banks, insurers and asset managers.

“The Bern Financial Services Agreement is only possible due to new freedoms granted to the UK following its exit from the EU,” the Treasury said, according to the FT. “The agreement will enhance the U.K. and Switzerland’s already thriving financial services relationship,” it added.

The details of the agreement have yet to be formally announced. However, some commentators said it would likely mark an improvement on the equivalence framework Britain had with Switzerland while in the European Union.

David Henig, U.K. director at independent think-tank the European Centre for International Political Economy, said the deal was “broadly good news” which would leverage Britain’s heft in the financial services sector.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially launched talks with Switzerland in 2020, when he was finance minister, claiming that the accord would demonstrate the countries’ shared vision of an “open, global and free” economy.

The current Conservative government in Britain has long positioned signing new trade deals as a key benefit of Brexit. In June, Britain signed a deal to join an 11-nation Asia-Pacific free-trade bloc that includes Australia, Singapore, Japan and Canada, marking its third new trade deal since formally exiting the bloc on Jan. 31, 2020.