Switzerland seeks bank access to Israeli markets

JERUSALEM, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Switzerland has asked Israel to open its markets so Swiss banks can trade funds there, a senior Finance Ministry official said.

Israel allows European Union banks market access, but not Switzerland as it is not an EU country and has different regulations from countries inside the bloc.

“We need market access and each other’s markets unfettered and as free as possible,” Joerg Gasser, head of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, said during a visit to Israel with Finance Minister Ueli Maurer to discuss financial cooperation.

“Israeli authorities focus on EU regulations but the EU doesn’t fully recognise our rules and regulations for political reasons.”

Gasser said he had requested an answer from Israel within a year.

“You can always find ways and solutions,” Gasser said, noting that Switzerland’s regulations are recognised by the European Securities and Markets Authority.

He said he had offered to provide any information needed to speed up the process and enable various funds to trade funds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Israel’s Finance Ministry declined to comment, but said in a statement both sides had agreed to cooperate across on issues including market access, financial technology regulation, cryptocurrencies and combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

Both countries agreed to exchange notes on regulating blockchain technologies.

Gasser said he was preparing a report on how to regulate blockchain and would submit recommendations by the end of the year, aiming for approval by parliament in 2019 so they could go into effect by early 2020. (Reporting by Steven Scheer Editing by Robin Pomeroy)