With colleagues in the Treasury, we are committed to championing export opportunities for our world-class financial services sector. We have done this through targeted export campaigns supporting specific UK financial services, as well as through signing ambitious free trade agreements that are reducing market access barriers and opening new doors for great British businesses to sell their services worldwide.
Financial services are so important to our economy, providing high-paid jobs and earning a substantial amount of revenue. We have done really well on our trade deals and it is vital that financial services are an important factor when we secure them. Will the Minister assure me that that is first and foremost in the Government’s mind?
We share my hon. Friend’s ambition to ensure that the UK remains a global hub for services and digital trade, which is why we are striking a series of advanced, high-standard FTAs with leading nations around the world. We have already made progress: our FTA with Japan provides greater benefits for financial services than the EU-Japan FTA, and includes provisions to ban unjustified data localisation and to support regulatory co-operation. Our recently signed FTA with Australia also includes an ambitious financial services chapter that will enable businesses to build on the £800 million-worth of financial services exported to Australia in 2020. So, Mr Speaker, the answer is yes.
Financial services account for more than 10% of our total tax take and are responsible for more than 1 million jobs throughout the country. Financial services are important not only to my constituents in Kensington but to Scotland, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow, and to Newcastle, Leeds, Bristol and Chelmsford. Does my hon. Friend agree that financial services need to be priorities in all future trade agreements to secure best market access?
We are absolutely committed to prioritising British financial services in FTAs. I am sure that my hon. Friend, as the Government’s trade envoy to Iceland and Norway—a role that she fulfils with her usual vigour—will be pleased to see our commitment in practice in the UK’s recently signed FTA with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein, which benefits financial services.
Office for National Statistics data shows that services trade with the European Union is down 28%—the Minister neglected to mention that in his long response. So could he say where we are in terms of negotiations with the EU on equivalence for our financial sector?