United States insurance giant Allstate says it will seek licensing for a wholly owned property and casualty insurance venture in the mainland next year. Company chairman and chief executive Jerry Choate yesterday said the firm had little interest in a joint venture with any of the mainland's insurance monopolies. 'We do think in the long term there will be competition,' Mr Choate said. 'This is a long-term strategy for us.' Allstate, one of the world's largest vehicle insurers with annual revenues of more than US$24 billion, yesterday officially opened its first representative office in Beijing. Executives said the firm would seek federal approval to sell policies once Allstate was eligible to apply for a licence in July, with the expiry of a minimum waiting period as required by mainland insurance law. 'It will take a number of years before this becomes a vibrant insurance market,' Mr Choate said. 'There's no question about that.' He said: 'We would be happy to share information . . . [but] ultimately we'd very much like to be in business on our own.' Foreign insurers' premium income accounts for less than 1 per cent of the country's total.