Chinese insurance regulators have notified nine European insurers that they may submit documents preliminary to receiving licenses to begin or expand operations in the country.
The action comes following China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and was seen as an attempt by Chinese authorities to show their good faith in adhering to the accords.
Italy’s Generali, the U.K.’s CGNU, France’s CNP and Holland’s ING and Aegon received invitations to apply for life insurance licenses. Aegon’s U.S. subsidiary Transamerica will be the actual applicant the company indicated.
France’s AXA received approval to open a branch office, as did the U.K.’s Royal & Sun Alliance. Both companies already have facilities in Shanghai.
Germany’s Allianz and Gerling Global Group also received approvals to begin the necessary procedures to open offices.
The processing of the applications is expected to take six months or more, and the companies will be required to form 50/50 partnerships with Chinese organizations. Still to be resolved is the problem of American International Group’s apparent exemption from this requirement, which European insurers have argued gives it an unfair advantage in the Chinese market. AIG has said that it has firm assurances from the Chinese government that they will honor their present agreements with the company.
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