China To Admit Insurers After Joining WTO

November 10, 2000

Chinese authorities have indicated they intend to license up to 12 foreign insurance groups upon China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Under terms China agreed to in negotiations with the U.S. and the EU the insurance market was to be opened, and the statement indicates that the Chinese seem ready to comply with those understandings.

CIGNA, Met Life, New York Life and Transamerica Occidental Life are waiting for the approval of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, and have established “representative offices, ” in China, which is a prerequisite to obtaining a license to operate.

Among Europeans, Allianz, CGNU, CNP Assurance (France’s state owned life and annuity insurer) and Gerling Global, have also established offices.

The authorities gave no timetable for the granting of the licenses, but the insurers remain hopeful that they will follow soon after China’s official admission to the WTO. They are increasing their efforts to enter the Chinese market.

Antoine Jeancourt-Galignani, chairman and CEO of France’s AGF, a subsidiary of Allianz, on a recent visit to Shanghai was quoted by China’s Xinhua News Agency as saying, “We hope to bring our insurance experience to Shanghai, which is on the way to becoming a world financial center.” Allianz already has a joint venture agreement with a Chinese life insurance company.

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