A spokeswoman for the Department of International Trade used her speech at a Westminster FinTech policy conference this week to claim that the UK is opening up market access for FinTech investors, and not reducing opportunities to trade in the wake of Brexit.
She praised Singapore as a fast-emerging partner for the UK, especially for FinTech companies.
Singapore was also singled out in other recent government announcements, such as at the launch of the UK’s new Digital Strategy last week.
Susan Caldwell is DIT Director of Financial and Professional Services. Speaking at a Westminster Business Forum on 21 June – just days after figures revealed that the UK economy has contracted for the second month in a row – she said, “For FinTech organisations here in the UK, our free trade agreements broadly seek to open up access to trade and investment for all British goods and services.
“In common with other parts of the Services sector, FinTechs share an interest in those areas of the agreements such as mobility of workforce, mutual recognition of qualifications, investor ownership, rules, innovation, IP, and support.
“For SMEs and others within our free trade agreements, but specifically for FinTechs, we also see the need to address digital trade barriers and a commitment to regulatory dialogue between bilateral partners.”
Asked by Transform Finance about Brexit achieving the opposite effects for innovators – such as the prevention of workforce mobility and the risk of erecting new trade barriers – Caldwell did not answer.
Instead, she was keen to praise the new trade agreement with Singapore and the FinTech Bridge with that country.
“Our agreement with Singapore is the most innovative trade agreement ever signed,” she said, “and the first of its kind by a European nation.
“It will strengthen our trading relationship with Singapore, which was already worth $16 billion in 2020, amending outdated rules that affect not just goods, but also services exports.
“A third of our exports to Singapore are already digitally delivered, including in finance, advertising, and engineering, and this deal will create further opportunities to expand that digital trade.”
While the trade deal may be innovative, Singapore accounts for just 1.6 percent of UK exports, while the EU, collectively, accounts for 42 percent. One is hardly a substitute for the other.
Singapore is the UK’s 14th largest trading partner, while eight of the top 10 are in Europe, as are over half of the top 25, making the EU by far Britain’s biggest trading ally.
Despite this Caldwell continued, “We want the UK to be the best place for you to invest, to bring your FinTech business, to build your FinTech business, to scale, capitalise, grow, export, internationalise, and succeed.”
Later she added, “We have an export support service for those who are facing increased friction as a result of the EU exit.”