Insurance intermediary market will further open up to foreign investors
On 11 April, 2018, People’s Bank of China (“PBC”) Governor Yi Gang announced specific measures to further open up the domestic financial market at the Boao Forum for Asia (“BFA”). China will allow qualified foreign investors to engage in the business of insurance agency and the business of insurance appraisal in a few months. In the meantime, foreign-owned insurance brokerage companies are to be allowed to expand their business scope to equal their Chinese peers. These indicate that all three fields, namely insurance brokerage, insurance agency, and insurance appraisal, will open up to foreign investment. The extent and pace of liberalization will be beyond expectation. On 27 April, 2018, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (“CBIRC”) issued Measures to Accelerate the Opening-up of the Banking and Insurance Industries, saying the CBIRC will speed up the implementation of the measures to allow qualified foreign investors to run insurance agencies or offer insurance appraisal services in China, and issued the Notice on Expanding the Business Scope for Foreign-funded Insurance Brokerages to allow foreign-funded insurance brokerages to cover the same business scope as their Chinese peers. Looser restrictions on foreign shareholding means foreign investments in the insurance appraisal sector can pursue more flexible organizational forms, i.e. they can seek a controlling position in a joint venture or even establish a wholly foreign owned subsidiary. Further opening-up would strengthen competition and promote reform in the market. It would also improve market efficiency and help protect consumer benefits.