Sun Life of Canada is expecting to obtain a licence to sell insurance on the mainland as early as next year, according to president and chief operating officer Donald Stewart. Mr Stewart said Sun Life had run a representative office in Beijing for two years and was now in discussions with Chinese officials over a licence. He said the company would look for a mainland partner to sell life insurance. The company's Asia-Pacific operation includes Hong Kong, the Philippines and Indonesia. Vice-president and Asia-Pacific general manager Lance Kemp said the turmoil in Southeast Asian currencies had exerted no noticeable impact on the sale of policies. 'As the level of ownership of life insurance in these places is still very low, the volume sold in the past few months was not affected much,' he said. Mr Kemp said only 15 per cent of the population in Southeast Asian nations bought life insurance. He said premiums sold in the Asia-Pacific rose 25 per cent last year, higher than the Western market.