Swiss banks gain market access in Germany from next year
* Cross-border services possible without subsidiary
* Easier market access effective from 2014
* Overhauled EU MiFID rules to take precedence
ZURICH, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The Swiss government on Friday signed an agreement with Germany that will give its banks a three-year window to woo German clients before new European Union rules governing market access enter into force.
Swiss banks are racing to expand outside their home turf, where massive international pressure on tax evasion is hitting the $2 trillion offshore finance industry.
Efforts to attract more German customers were frustrated last year when the Berlin parliament rejected a broader deal to to tax assets stashed by German citizens in Swiss accounts.
Though Friday's agreement, which covers cross-border banking services and securities funds, is reciprocal, Switzerland has more to gain from it.
"The agreement means things get easier for Swiss banks. They can win customers in Germany without having a subsidiary there," Swiss government spokesman Mario Tuor told Reuters.
The German-Swiss agreement is valid until MiFID II, an EU-wide agreement is rolled out, planned for 2017.
"If MiFID introduces stricter rules (on market access), it will take precedence over the (Swiss) agreement with Germany," Tuor said.
The EU is currently overhauling its MiFID law, which imposes stringent obligations on financial companies from non-EU countries wanting to do business in the bloc. Switzerland has accused the EU of being protectionist and fragmenting global markets with the new rules.
A spokesman for the Swiss banking lobby said the Swiss-German agreement was favourable because it was an improvement over the current situation.
"It shows both countries continue to have a constructive dialogue regarding the financial sector." (Reporting by Oliver Hirt and Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Katharina Bart and Catherine Evans)
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