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Finance ministers work towards Swiss-British deal

In preparation for the post-Brexit period, Switzerland and Britain want to mutually recognise each other’s financial market regulations and facilitate cross-border market access for financial services.

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer and his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, signed a joint statement during a virtual meeting on Tuesday. The move “underscores the shared ambition for an agreement between the two countries that would enable cross-border market access for a wide range of financial services relating to insurance, banking, asset management and capital market infrastructure” noted the Federal Department of Finance in a statement on Tuesday.

With such an agreement, Switzerland and Britain say they want to reaffirm their commitment to the open financial markets and international financial stability.

The two finance ministers also exchanged views on the situation regarding stock market equivalence and the measure to protect the Swiss stock exchange infrastructure.

“They are holding out the prospect that reciprocal access to the Swiss and UK stock exchanges should be facilitated based on mutual recognition once both sides have implemented the necessary steps after the end of the United Kingdom’s transition period vis-à-vis the EU,” stated the Swiss finance department. A year ago, in order to exert pressure in the negotiations for a framework agreement, the EU scrapped the equivalency that had allowed Swiss stocks to be traded in Europe.

Switzerland and Britain have already concluded several agreements to regulate bilateral relations for the period after the completion of Brexit. These concern trade, road transport, air transport, insurance and citizens’ rights. The nations will discuss their joint financial goals again in autumn, and there will be an interim assessment at the end of the year.

In 2018, the UK was Switzerland’s sixth largest trading partner with a trade volume of over CHF36 billion (£30.7 billion). In 2017 it was also the third most important export country for Swiss services. For its part, Switzerland ranked third in terms of British direct investment. Some 34,500 Swiss nationals live in Britain and 43,000 British nationals live in Switzerland.