China -  Chinese law firm

How can foreign insurers do insurance business in China after its ascension to the WTO?

As at the date of ascension to the WTO, foreign non-life insurers could establish branches or enter into joint ventures with equity interest of up to 51%. Foreign life insurers could set up joint ventures in China with equity interest of up to 50% upon accession. Within two years of accession, foreign investors will be able to create a wholly foreign-owned entity (WFOE) non-life insurance company.

Immediately upon ascension, foreign life and non-life insurers may provide services only in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian, Liaoning, and Foshan. Within two years of acsension, Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Suzhou, Jiangsu, Ningbo, Zhejiang, Shenyang, Liaoning, and Wuhan will be added to the list of areas wherein foreign insurers may operate. All geographic restrictions are to end within three years of ascension to the WTO.

Upon China's WTO accession, licensed foreign non-life insurers could write master policies for large commercial risks with no geographic restrictions. Large commercial risks are defined as:

(i) upon accession, enterprises paying a minimum annual premium of RMB800,000 (USD97,000) with total investment in China in excess of RMB200 million (USD24 million);

(ii) one year after accession, minimum annual premium of RMB600,000 (USD72,000) with investment of more than RMB180 million (USD21.8 million);

(iii) two years after accession, minimum annual premium of RMB400,000 (USD48,000) with investment of more than RMB150 million (USD18 million).

Upon ascension, foreign non-life insurers were permitted to provide insurance for enterprises outside the PRC, and property, liability, and credit insurance for FIEs. Two years after accession, foreign non-life insurers will be allowed to provide a full range of insurance products and services, both to foreign and domestic clients, and insurers will be permitted to write individual insurance for foreigners and Chinese citizens. Three years after accession, foreign life insurers will be permitted to provide health insurance, group insurance, and pension/annuities insurance to foreigners and Chinese.

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