Thank you, Brexit. UK real GDP growth cut to 1.6%
High levels of uncertainty are to lead to a slowdown in business investment and lower GDP growth.
In light of this, PwC has revised down its main scenario real GDP growth projection for the UK to 1.6% and 0.6% per annum in 2016 and 2017 respectively, down from 1.9% and 2.3%.
Quarter-on-quarter growth could fall to around zero in the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2017, but the UK would narrowly avoid a recession. Growth would then gradually pick up later in 2017 and beyond.
The UK’s vote to leave the EU has put London’s position as a leading international financial centre under the spotlight. To assess the potential impact that Brexit could have on London as a financial hub, PwC developed a financial services attractiveness indicator.
This analysis shows that London currently ranks top of the European list, considerably ahead of Dublin and Luxembourg in 2nd and 3rd place.
There are, however, some things that are not picked up in the indicator, such as the appeal of different cities and regions as a place to live, which can also contribute to the attractiveness of a financial centre.
One important factor that contributes to London’s success as an international financial centre is its access to the Single Market via passporting for financial services.
This applies across the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and gives UK-based financial institutions unfettered access to the rest of the Single Market.
It seems, at present, that the only way for London to continue to benefit from passporting would be for the UK to join the EEA when it leaves the EU.
But given this scenario would probably mean free movement of labour continuing to apply, the UK making a contribution to the EU budget and EU-wide regulations still having to be applied in the UK, this could be a difficult outcome to achieve politically. So, what would losing (some) access to the Single Market mean for London?
PwC’s analysis shows that, everything else remaining equal, the loss of passporting could see London lose its place as the EU’s strongest financial centre as it would fall into 2nd place in the league table behind Dublin.
Its gap with Luxembourg, Paris and other EU cities could also narrow significantly.
Though factors such as a change in government policy, the extent of spare capacity which could support an inflow of FS activity or the presence of bodies like the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in Paris or the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, could also see one of the other financial centres PwC has identified emerge as a new star performer.
The UK’s future trading relationship with the EU is the biggest source of uncertainty following the referendum. The main reason for this uncertainty is the lack of precedent.
For example, it is unclear whether the UK will be able to continue to access to the Single Market as it currently does now, or have to negotiate a free trade agreement, or even have to trade with EU member states under WTO terms.
PwC’s analysis identifies the 10 EU countries that export the most to the UK, relative to the size of their economies. Ireland (19.9%) and Cyprus (9.5%) sit at the top of this list.
Of the larger European economies, Germany exports the most to the UK relative to the size of its economy (3.7%). France (2.5%) and Italy (1.7%) don’t rank within the top 10.
These numbers are relatively modest at the macroeconomic level but could be more material for some industry sectors, so affected businesses in these economies do need to be prepared for different trade arrangements in the future. ■