22.05.2002 – 14:11
ACLI Calls Russia's WTO Accession Bid "Unacceptable"
Cites Lack Of
Market Access To Life Insurers In Current Proposal
Washington, DC (ots)
The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) - the largest trade association representing the U.S. life insurance industry - will oppose Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) unless it guarantees market access to foreign life insurance companies.
"Personal financial and retirement security - through life insurance, pensions and similar products - is a fundamental requisite for Russia's economic modernization. It allows citizens to take control of their financial futures and build financial independence," Brad Smith, ACLI's Managing Director for International Relations, told a news conference staged by the Coalition of Service Industries (CSI). Smith is chairman of CSI's Insurance Committee.
"The opening of the Russian life insurance sector to full participation by foreign life insurance companies would bring significant benefits to Russian consumers by introducing innovative products backed by global networks that will bring increased customer services and financial strength," Smith said. "Opening the Russian life insurance sector will improve capital formation for domestic investment and credit, and will generally improve the quality and type of financial service products in the market. Russia must make a commitment to allow foreign life insurance companies to set up companies and control their operations if it hopes to attract foreign business and expertise."
Currently, Russia refuses to commit to market access for foreign life insurers - unlike other countries that have recently acceded to the WTO, such as China.
While ACLI and the U.S. life insurance industry support Russia's efforts to join the WTO on a commercially meaningful basis, Smith said, "the current lack of commitment on market access in life insurance represents an unacceptable shortcoming." Smith said ACLI hopes to continue its dialogue with Russian trade officials and will continue to work with U.S. trade negotiators in an effort to remedy that shortcoming.
"By committing broad market access for foreign life insurance companies," Smith said, "major markets all over the world have proven that innovative, competitively priced life insurance and financial protection products improve the lives and financial security of consumers, strengthen financial services infrastructure, and improve the overall efficiency of general commerce."
The American Council of Life Insurers is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. Its 400 member companies offer life insurance, annuities, pensions, long-term care insurance, disability income insurance and other retirement and financial protection products. ACLI's public web site can be accessed at www.acli.com.
ots Originaltext: ACLI
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