ACLI, AIA Spearhead Effort To Establish Global Insurance Objectives For WTO Talks

WASHINGTON, DC (OTS) - Six Trade Groups Urge USTR To Adopt
Blueprint For Liberalizing Insurance Markets, International Financial Leaders Back Adoption Of Plan In WTO Member Countries

Six major insurance and financial services trade groups, advocating free and open insurance markets around the world, are urging U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) negotiators to adopt the industry's broad negotiating objectives in the next round of World Trade Organization (WTO) global trade talks.

In a letter to the USTR, the leaders of the American Council of Life Insurers, American Insurance Association, Coalition of Service Industries, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, International Insurance Council and Reinsurance Association of America outlined a comprehensive and ambitious set of negotiating objectives and asked that they be included in the initial U.S. requests to be made in June.

"We believe that the meaningful liberalization of most foreign insurance markets can best be accomplished by the adoption of a comprehensive set of commitments that include, but go beyond, traditional market access and national treatment commitments," the trade groups say in their letter. "Such new commitments would include regulatory, transparency and 'best practices' principles that will serve to complement and buttress commitments made in the areas of market access and national treatment."

The centerpiece of the insurance industry's objectives is a "model schedule" developed by the international Financial Leaders Working Group insurance team (representing financial institutions and associations in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Japan). The model schedule "enables a generic insurance market that we believe will help insurance consumers by giving them more and different products to choose from, as well as more price competition," the letter says. "This generic market would feature a regulatory and operating structure for insurance providers that is stable, predictable and conducive to competition. All of these elements are needed for U.S. insurance providers to choose to enter a foreign market and make a long-term commitment to it."

"Adoption of the full model schedule is crucial to U.S. insurance providers if they are to compete globally on a greater scale and help sustain the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in the global marketplace," said John Savercool, AIA's vice president of federal affairs. "U.S. companies support well-regulated and open markets, and this is precisely what the model schedule calls for."

"The really big beneficiaries will be the accepting countries themselves, especially those with developing economies," said Brad Smith, ACLI's managing director for international relations. "Insurance is fundamental to any country's financial infrastructure. Most emerging markets would benefit from the professional and financial capital and the expertise global insurers can bring."

The trade groups' letter points out that "Insurance provides numerous critical functions to any society, including the creation of pools of capital that are vital to the adequacy of a country's capital and bond markets; the creation and offering of insurance products that can make possible and accommodate risks associated with business ventures; needed products for personal savings, as well as personal and retirement security, and further expertise in risk management. U.S. insurance providers have the expertise and experience to help provide these benefits in foreign markets, as long as they are open and provide meaningful access."

In a separate statement, insurance representatives within the Financial Leaders Working Group (FLWG) reaffirmed their "strong support for significant trade liberalization in insurance" and urged trade negotiators for each of their countries to include the model schedule in full in their initial negotiating requests.

The FLWG representatives that developed the proposed model schedule, and that participated in the joint statement, include:

American Council of Life Insurers
American Insurance Association
BIPAR (The European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries) Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association
CEA and its 15 European Union Member Associations (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom)

International Insurance Council
Reinsurance Association of America
The Marine and Fire Insurance Association of Japan
World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries

The American Council of Life Insurers is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. Its 400 member companies offer life insurance, annuities, pensions, long-term care insurance, disability income insurance and other retirement and financial protection products. ACLI's public Web site can be accessed at

The American Insurance Association represents 412 major insurance companies that provide all lines of property and casualty insurance and write more than $87 billion annually in premiums. The association is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has representatives in every state. All AIA press releases are available at

ots Originaltext: ACLI

OTE001 2002-05-06/12:32

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