Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

London business district keeps Gulf partners close ahead of Brexit

Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin will travel to the UAE and Kuwait to discuss trade and investment ties

Anti-Brexit protesters hold signs outside the Houses of Parliament in London. REUTERS
Anti-Brexit protesters hold signs outside the Houses of Parliament in London. REUTERS

Fintech and green finance will be high up the agenda of Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin – who represents London’s financial district – as he visits Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait City next week to discuss new opportunities for collaboration.

“British business and innovation across financial and professional services has much to offer partners in the region, whether it be in currency trading and asset management, or growing areas like fintech and green finance,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday at Mansion House, the Lord Mayor’s official residence, Mr Estlin expressed confidence that the looming prospect of a disorderly Brexit will not tarnish the opportunity for new partnerships with Gulf investors.

“There is some nervousness and that is perfectly understandable, but… I am very confident because I can see what’s coming down the path,” he said.

The visit coincides with mounting concerns over the impact of a no-deal Brexit on trade relations with the EU, but Mr Estlin said it would be wrong to assume his visit is anything but ordinary.

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“We set up in Kuwait a friendly agreement 120 years ago and for the past 120 year we have been continuing to have dialogues like this on a regular basis,” he told The National.

However, the Lord Mayor will use his visit to underline the strength of the industry in UK and London and reassure investors that the Bank of England is working to ensure stability in the event of “what we may call catastrophic circumstances.”

The UAE and Kuwait are among the fastest growing markets for UK services globally, with total services trade at £5.6bn with the UAE and £1.5bn with Kuwait as of 2017, up 90% and 76% respectively over the last decade.

While in the UAE, the former banker –accompanied by a delegation of five leading UK organisations – will be looking to expand partnership in areas of infrastructure financing, specifically around green financing.

Mr Estlin, who took office in November, will meet with sovereign fund investors and senior figures from the region’s financial sector during the visit, including the Kuwait Investment Authority, Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Investment Council.

The City is the global leader for currency trading, fintech, cross-border banking, asset management and much more. It is also the leading centre for Islamic finance outside of the Islamic world, with over £2.5 trillion in assets invested here.

Updated: January 11, 2019 09:18 PM

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