Britain's financial services exports tick higher, U.S. top customer

City of London financial district during evening rush-hour in London

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's trade surplus in financial and related professional services edged up in 2021 as the United States cemented its position as the top customer, while the European Union eased in importance following Brexit, TheCityUK figures showed on Tuesday.

Britain has just unveiled its "Edinburgh Reforms" to bolster the City of London's global competitiveness as a financial centre now that it faces added competition from EU locations such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris.

TheCityUK said the UK financial services and related legal and accounting trade surplus rose to 81 billion pounds ($99.24 billion) in 2021, up from 79.6 billion pounds in 2020.

The United States was the top customer for the second year running, accounting for 34.1% of the total, followed by the EU at 29%.

Graphic 1: TheCityUK Graphic 1, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/klpygzmydpg/TheCityUK%20Graphic%202021%20Exports%201.PNG

This compares with TheCityUK figures for 2019, when Britain still had full access to the EU market which then accounted for 40.5% of the total sector exports of $82.7 billion, with the United States second with a 26.6% share.

The uptick in the latest figures will help reassure nerves in the sector as global competition remains intense.

"Throughout the economic tumult of recent years, the financial and related professional services industry has proven itself resilient and adaptable," Anjalika Bardalai, chief economist and head of research at TheCityUK said in a statement.

London remains a world-leading international financial centre, but this cannot be taken for granted, Bardalai said.

"It is essential for industry, government and regulators to work together to ensure the UK remains globally competitive and a hub for firms to invest and do business," she said.

Graphic 2: TheCityUK Graphic 2, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/dwvkdajbzpm/TheCityUK%20Graphic%202021%20Exports%202.PNG

($1 = 0.8162 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones. Editing by Sharon Singleton)