Sunday 9 December 2018

City of London Lord Mayor expects Brexit transition deal by end of March

Brexit Secretary David Davis has also stressed that he wants to shake hands on a transition agreement this month.

Charles Bowman, Lord Mayor of the City of London (PA)
Charles Bowman, Lord Mayor of the City of London (PA)

By Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

The Lord Mayor of the City of London has backed the UK to secure a Brexit transition deal before the end of the month as he embarks on a trade mission to China.

Charles Bowman, an ambassador for Britain’s financial services sector, is “quietly confident” that Britain is weeks away from reaching an agreement with the European Union over a time-limited implementation for the divorce.

It comes after Brexit Secretary David Davis stressed last week that he wants to shake hands on a transition agreement this month so talks can move onto the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Speaking ahead of a nine-day visit to China, Mr Bowman said: “The Prime Minister gave her keynote speech here in Mansion House two weeks ago. She reaffirmed our three asks around transition and I would be quietly confident that we will get that transition agreement by the end of March.

“She reaffirmed our need for talent and an appropriate immigration policy to retain that. A win-win for all concerned.

“And with regard to trade, she too supported what we have been promoting for sometime, which was a practical, pragmatic, but brave free trade agreement that is built out of mutual access, regulatory alignment, supervisory cooperation and, only if required, dispute resolution.

“That’s a win-win-win, and increasingly businesses I talk to around Europe recognise the significance and importance of getting that.”

Representatives from major financial institutions will fly out with the Lord Mayor on March 19 to help drum up trade for the City.

He will be joined by HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citi Bank, JP Morgan and investors Standard Life Aberdeen, Barings and Green Investment Group.

Law firms Linklaters and DLA Piper, and accountancy giants KPMG, Deloitte and PwC will also be attending, alongside insurers JLT Group, Aon, Ironshore and organisations such as the London Stock Exchange, the China Britain Business Council, Turner & Townsend and Arup.

The delegation plans to meet heavyweights from Chinese politics and business in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, with a focus on promoting London as a route to international markets.

Part of the charm offensive will be to position the City as a key player in Beijing’s mammoth infrastructure programme, the Belt and Road Initiative.

The 900 billion US dollar (£666 billion) project is designed to bolster economic growth across Asia and the wider world through a string of developments ranging from a high-speed railway in east Africa to a port in Sri Lanka.

The visit comes after Theresa May travelled to China at the end of January to lay the groundwork for a strong economic partnership with China once Brexit is enforced.

While Mr Bowman remained tight-lipped on potential deals, he said the 20-strong delegation will be looking to secure “macro” agreements.

Sir Tom Troubridge, chairman of PwC China Business Group, said: “We have assembled a very senior delegation representing the UK’s key strengths in assurance, insurance and financing.

“These are all the skills the Chinese government tell us are critical to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative where infrastructure projects alone have been estimated at 25 trillion US dollars over the next three decades.”

Press Association

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