Equal status for all firms agreed 'in principle'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 12:00am

Updated at 6.20pm:
The China Insurance Regulatory Commission has agreed "in principle" to give overseas and Chinese insurance companies equal status to prepare for China's World Trade Organisation membership, the China Securities Times reported on Thursday.

The daily said the commission submitted its first regulation on overseas insurance companies to the State Council for approval. The commission also plans further foreigner-friendly changes to the Chinese insurance market as part of the mainland's WTO commitments.

The newspaper did specify what equal treatment would mean. A representative of the US-based AIU Insurance's Shanghai branch told SCMP.com she did not know what "equal status" means and gave no further comment.

But the newspaper said the regulation could allow foreign insurers to control joint ventures with Chinese companies and allow more overseas companies to sell insurance on the mainland.

Today foreign insurers can apply for operations licences after having representative offices in China for at least two years. They cannot control joint ventures.