AS I WRITE this, I am in Cyprus in advance of the Cypriot Presidency of the EU, meeting business and political leaders to set out the crucial importance of the City of London and the financial services industry in creating jobs and growth right across the European Union.
The City of London remains the world’s pre-eminent financial centre. But it is pre-eminent, not just because of the size of its markets, and not just because of the depth and the range of the services we provide, but because of the usefulness of those markets and those services – to Britain and on a far larger scale.
Despite what is sometimes suggested, these markets and services are not an end in themselves, but are best deployed in the service of the wider national and international economies: it is in everyone’s interests to preserve a strong financial sector.
The message I am therefore taking to our Cypriot colleagues is that the City is a global financial centre, but it is also Europe’s financial centre.
We remain wholly committed to a vibrant single market and wholly committed to a successful Eurozone. It is in Europe’s interests that we do and it is in the UK’s interests that we do, with the EU our biggest export market.
I often hear the suggestion that Britain’s economy must rebalance, implying that the City and financial services, at one end of the seesaw, must move down for other sectors to move up. But this is not a zero-sum game: one depends on the other.
We must continue to diversify our economy, so that we grow all sectors. We must reaffirm the truth that we cannot create jobs and we cannot create growth in the wider economy without finance, and without capital. And we will not have finance and capital without the resources of the City of London.
The evidence is clear: the City Corporation, the CBI and TheCityUK recently published research showing the value of our wholesale markets and how they provide high quality financial services to business and government alike – with 430 new companies raising $38bn in equity in European markets in the last year alone.
We pride ourselves on the stability, clarity and predictability we offer business – qualities which draw a range of foreign-owned institutions from all over the world and which therefore support jobs and growth right across Europe.
However, those services will only continue to be available in the City if we retain our competitiveness in the global marketplace. So setting out the importance of the City to our European partners and the importance of retaining the right regulatory environment will remain one of my key priorities.
David Wootton is Lord Mayor of the City of London.