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World's Insurance Business Eyes China
China's insurance market is surely to become a hotspot for the world's insurance business, following its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and Chinese insurance professionals should learn from their international counterparts for expertise and service to achieve joint progress.

Edmund F. Kelly, chairman and CEO of Liberty Mutual Group, the world's largest occupational safety & health consultancy company, said on Tuesday, the day when China officially became a WTO member.

Liberty Mutual, with 900-plus representative offices worldwide and US$54 billion in total assets, has undertaken research with China to assess the market demand in light of the latter's WTO entry. Now, it has shifted its focus to the China market and is mainly engaged in property insurance and occupational injuries compensation insurance.

China has seen a continuous and rapid economic growth in the past decade or more, and more and more multinationals regard Chinaas an economic engine of the Asia-Pacific region, Kelly said, adding that his company holds the same viewpoint. Ma Yongwei, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), was quoted as saying that China will allow foreign insurance companies to enter the local market in various forms such as joint ventures, so as to open the market even wider to the outside world.

This is also aimed at gradually expanding the business scope offoreign insurance companies, he said. Experts said that foreign insurance business has a much longer history and its market is turning more mature and well regulated, which emphasizes precautionary measures rather than compensation. Their advantages lie in their insurance diversity and comprehensive services.

They said that when entering the China market, the foreign firms will have to renovate their products and train more local people, in collaboration with the Chinese government and Chinese companies.

So far, Liberty Mutual has launched representative offices in the cities of Shanghai and Chongqing, and opened research centers at Fudan and Chongqing universities.

According to the CIRC, China is accelerating the legislation ofthe administrative supervision regulations pertaining to the insurance business to meet the development demands of the insurance market. After its WTO entry, China's insurance market will turn from a pioneering stage to a new period fully open to the outside world.

No doubt, Liberty Mutual will continue to focus on the China market then, Kelly said.

(People's Daily December 12, 2001)

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