LONDON (Reuters) - Britain kept the top spot in global financial services exports last year but Brexit threatens to raise barriers to its biggest market in Europe, TheCityUK said on Friday.
The body, which promotes Britain as a financial centre, said banks, insurers, asset managers, and the accountants and lawyers who support them, netted a total trade surplus of $93.6 billion in 2016, more than the next two leading countries, the United States and Switzerland, combined.
"However, we cannot take this position for granted," said Anjalika Bardalai, TheCityUK's chief economist and head of research.
"Brexit is likely to create some economic friction with our largest trading partner - the EU and with an increasing number of regional and specialist centres arising in Asia and elsewhere - it is vital that the UK seek new trading and investment opportunities."
It also needs to step up trade with existing major partners like the United States and Japan, TheCityUK said.
Britain is sending a trade delegation to China this weekend that will include financial services firms such as the London Stock Exchange <LSE.L> to drum up business to help plug any gap in business lost due to Brexit.
"While markets like China and India are growing fast, trade flows are still relatively small, indicating potential for the future," Bardalai said.
(Reporting by Huw Jones Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)