Regulator forges mainland links
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Hong Kong's Insurance Authority has established official links with the mainland's newly created national insurance regulator - the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC).
Insurance Commissioner Alan Wong Chi-kong said the links had been forged during his recent CIRC visit.
'The link means local and mainland insurance regulators will be able to work with each other in terms of information-sharing during investigations, staff training and technological development,' Hong Kong's insurance commissioner said.
The Insurance Authority and the CIRC would work independently in daily operations under the one country, two systems principle, Mr Wong said.
'However, we would co-operate on information concerning the regulation of insurance companies which have operations in both the mainland and Hong Kong when needed,' he said.
There are 150 insurance companies in Hong Kong with representative offices on the mainland, while some mainland insurers also have operations in Hong Kong.
The CIRC was set up in November 18 last year with Ma Yongwei, former president of People's Insurance of China, as chairman.
Before the establishment of the CIRC, regulation of the mainland insurance industry was shared by the People's Bank of China, finance ministry and State Development and Planning Commission. Questions were raised about the system's efficiency.
Mr Wong said the CIRC was not yet a member of the international insurance industry watchdog - International Association of Insurance Supervisors.
Hong Kong is already a member.
He said the Insurance Authority would share its experience with the CIRC regarding joining the association.
He indicated the CIRC would set up a regulatory framework for the mainland insurance industry but would allow it to become self-regulatory at a later stage, a similar situation to that with the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI).
In Hong Kong, Mr Wong said he would like to develop an examination and quality assurance scheme for insurance agents and brokers.
'There are examinations for insurance agents on the mainland, Taiwan, Australia, United States and UK,' he said.
'But in Hong Kong, there is no standard examination to be an insurance agent.' Under this proposed new scheme everyone who wanted to be an insurance agent or insurance broker would, from next year, have to pass an examination before entering the industry.
Those who had been in the industry for five years, or those who had degrees in related areas, could be exempted.
The HKFI would be in charge of this examination, he said.