The British government has announced its intentions of a new post-Brexit era of international relations that will look beyond Europe and open London up to finance markets around the world.
The announcement came after Prime Minister Theresa May won a crucial Brexit vote in parliament on Wednesday, keeping her divided government’s plans to end more than 40 years of British partnership with the European Union on track.
Speaking to industry leaders on Thursday evening, the Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government plans to safeguard London’s position as the world’s leading financial center, after leaving the European Union, by signing a series of financial partnerships with non-EU countries.
Britain has already started a series of financial dialogues with leading emerging market countries, including China and Brazil, and Hammond’s comments indicate these will form the basis of new partnerships.
The chancellor’s proposal involves bringing together governments, regulators and industries to build a system for opening up cross-border financial services, with the aim of improving access to global financial markets and reducing business costs.
“Connectivity was always at the heart of London’s success,” Hammond said. “And to succeed in the future, we must remain connected to the world－including the important emerging markets.”
Britain is trying to reinvent itself as a global trading nation after deciding to leave the European Union in 2016.
China-UK business ties have accelerated in recent years, especially since President Xi Jinping’s October 2015 UK state visit to meet then-Prime Minister David Cameron, when a new era of “golden relations” were established.
In 2017, China’s nonfinancial direct investment in the UK totaled $1.53 billion, while by the end of that year, cumulative nonfinancial direct investment from China in the UK was $19.14 billion.
In his speech, Hammond called on the EU to negotiate a wide-ranging post-Brexit financial services deal that would provide access to EU markets for UK firms and allow EU governments and companies to borrow money cheaply in London.
“Global Britain is not just a strategy for Britain’s economic future, it’s a statement about what kind of people we are, and about the economy and the society we want to be,” he said.
Speaking at an event in London on Tuesday, Chinese embassy Minister and Deputy Head of Mission in the UK Zhu Qin said stronger partnerships can be achieved in China’s domestic market and along the Belt and Road countries.
“Our two countries (should) seize the opportunities and deepen mutually beneficial collaboration and shift the China-UK ‘golden era’ into a higher gear,” he said.
“China has entered a new era in building socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the UK is building a ‘global Britain’. This is a time of new and historic opportunities,” said Zhu.
In April, China’s envoy to the EU Zhang Ming warned that planned trade talks between London and Beijing face “great uncertainties” if Britain fails to reach a trade deal with the EU beforehand.
Zhang said talks must be finalized prior to any detailed negotiations with China.
“If there is not a Brexit deal, there won’t be things to talk about after that,” he said, adding, “If the EU and the UK fail to reach agreement in the first place, the UK’s agreements with other parties may have to face great uncertainties.”