Insurance sector keen for Belt and Road deals

Initiative offers chance for closer Sino-UK ties

Chinese and British insurance companies are well placed to collaborate on diversifying risks for the huge infrastructure projects along the area covered by the Belt and Road Initiative, leading industry figures told a meeting in London on Monday.

Such collaboration will make good use of Chinese insurers’ deep knowledge of the Belt and Road projects and existing Chinese client base, they said, as well as British insurers’ tremendous professional experience gained over years of practice.

“Insurance plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Yuan Linjiang, chairman of China Reinsurance Group. “Countries along the Belt and Road have significant geopolitical, economic and social differences, meaning risk management is very important when investing into these countries.

“Insurance is the fundamental strategy of risk management in a modern society. Governments, companies and individuals should proactively assess their risks exposure (in relation to Belt and Road projects) and make good use of insurance and reinsurance services to diversify their risks.”

Yuan was speaking at the 2018 Sino-UK Belt and Road Initiative Insurance Cooperation Forum, which is hosted by China Reinsurance, and attended by more than 100 UK and Chinese financial and government sector representatives.

The Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to boost links between countries across Asia and Europe, was initiated in 2013. Between 2014 and 2017, trade volume between China and the countries involved exceeded $4 trillion and total investment exceeded $60 billion, according to Chinese government figures.

Seventy-five economic and trade cooperation zones have been set up, creating more than 200,000 jobs for local people.

So far, China Export and Credit Insurance Corp has insured more than $320 billion of export and investment in countries along the Belt and Road region, but that amount is still small compared to total investment amounts that could benefit from insurance and reinsurance.

“We sincerely welcome participation from the UK’s insurance sector players,” said Zhu Qin, minister and deputy head of mission of the Chinese embassy in the UK.

Zhu added that Chinese and British insurers could together conduct research into the risk profiles of Belt and Road projects, and jointly discuss how to create a reliable Belt and Road risk management system to ensure the initiative’s sustainable development.

The British insurance sector’s expertise in specialist risk insurance, insurance services and insurance technology could all contribute toward this collaboration process, Zhu said.

In recent years Chinese and British insurers have increasingly expanded into each other’s markets.

China Reinsurance and Taiping Insurance have established operations in London, and Lloyd's of London, the world's oldest insurance market, which started in 1686, established an insurance platform in Shanghai in 2007. The platform has since grown to include 33 syndicates, which are insurance companies working through the Lloyds platform.

“For Lloyd’s, we are ready to support the many Belt and Road projects,” said Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s of London.