City of London policy chief calls for proper recognition of NI financial services sector in EU-UK trade talks

Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation
Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation

THE policy chief of the City of London Corporation has called for the north’s financial services sector to be properly recognised during the UK’s future trading negotiations with the EU.

Catherine McGuinness is effectively the political leader of the organisation, which looks after the square mile epicentre of the UK’s financial services sector.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Belfast and Derry on Friday, she said the importance of the sector to the economy here means “services should not be an afterthought”.

The City of London’s connections to the north date back to the Ulster Plantation, but the governing body has increasingly forged closer linked with Belfast and Derry in more recent times, partly due to the growth of the services sector here.

“I want to hear if there are any particular concerns from the sector in Northern Ireland, besides the general concerns that we have,” said Ms McGuinness.

“Northern Ireland plays a significant part in the success of UK financial services, with its 50,000 sector jobs and sizable contribution to the wider economy.

She described the sector as “a critical part” of the economy, but said many within it fear it may be overlooked during the trade talks.

“You can’t take as good a picture of professional services being offered across borders as you can trucks trundling along or fish being sold. But it’s a critical part of our economy,” she said.

“We have long said that the future trading negotiations should not be a zero sum game for different sectors. But as the largest component of Northern Ireland’s economy, services should not be an afterthought.

“That’s why we are advocating for a trade deal that properly recognises the economic clout of the services sector, securing maximum market access and developing a structure for the UK and EU to prosper in the years ahead.”

The policy chief also cited concerns over the flow of data across borders.

“I am really concerned about that, because it has the potential to impact on ordinary people and particularly on ordinary people, especially in Northern Ireland, where you have people going to hospital on one side of the border or the other.”