Leaving the EU could severely damage the competitiveness of the UK’s financial services industry and with it Belfast’s position as a financial hub.
That’s the warning expected today from Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, during a speech in the city.
Ms Baldwin will address an event to launch Belfast as part of theUKTI’s Financial Centres of Excellence initiative.
The event, supported by the UK Trade & Investment and hosted by Citi is designed to showcase the financial services industry across the province.
She will highlight the importance for staying in the EU to a sector that plays a crucial role in Northern Ireland’s economy. The financial sector employs around 21,000 people with a further 15,000 in related professional services across Northern Ireland.
The UK’s membership of the EU has allowed Belfast to become a major financial hub with global institutions in banking, insurance, asset management and capital markets investing and expanding in Northern Ireland.
Major employers like Citi, the Allstate Corp, First Derivatives and Liberty Mutual are among the firms that have made major investments.
Stating that being a member of the EU has given the UK full access to a market of over 500 million customers and an economy over five times bigger than the UK’s she will say: “This country faces a fundamental choice – whether to remain a member of a reformed EU, or to travel an uncertain path.
“A vote to stay will protect jobs in Northern Ireland, promote economic growth and ensure that Belfast remains a growing global financial centre, while a vote to leave would significantly weaken the UK’s financial services industry, with consequences for Northern Ireland’s status as a financial hub.
“The financial services industry in Northern Ireland is going from strength to strength and is great success story.
“It makes an important contribution to the local economy and employs around 21,000 people with a further 15,000 in related professional services.
“Let’s not put all of this at risk on the 23rd of June.”
While in Belfast the Economic Secretary is visiting the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), which has benefitted from EU funding.
The centre houses the Capital Markets Collaborative Network (CMCN) which engages both local universities and seeks to position Northern Ireland as a global centre of excellence for R&D in capital markets engineering.
Here she will meet some of the team to talk through the bespoke projects that are directly benefitting from EU funding.
The day will finish with a roundtable with industry leaders where they will discuss the EU referendum and what it means for financial services in Belfast.