China Trade Deal Supports Innovation and Growth

Jan 24, 2020

Life insurers’ most critical mission is helping people take care of the things that matter most, whether they are in North America, Africa, Europe, Latin America or Asia. We do this by providing risk protection and financial security products that empower individuals to protect themselves and their families.

Numerous American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) member company CEOs were invited to the White House signing ceremony last week for the phase one trade deal the Trump Administration successfully concluded with China. The agreement advances U.S. financial services sector objectives. Most importantly to ACLI, it removes the 50% equity cap on foreign investment in life insurance, health and pension companies and allows 100% ownership.

ACLI President and CEO Susan Neely visited Beijing last November as a guest of U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad. She engaged with Chinese regulators and other policymakers to advocate for this change. Susan was accompanied by local ACLI member company managers who spoke eloquently about the societal benefits that private-sector financial security products can bring to help China address challenges presented by its aging population.

This move is well-timed – for China and for life insurers. By 2050, China could have 487 million people older than 60.  Also, China’s insurance market is growing rapidly. It remains on course to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest insurance market by the mid-2030s.

World-class insurance and pension products can help China meet its objective of getting rich before getting old. Our members’ global experience in providing private financial protection products can help to free up Chinese government resources to help those most in need. Foreign market share in the Chinese life sector is 9% and less than 2% for non-life. With 100% foreign ownership, ACLI members will be able to make decisions about structuring their businesses consistent with their business strategy and values.

ACLI will work closely with the U.S. government on the phase one implementation. The value proposition of our industry is the long-term stability our companies’ products bring to individuals, families and communities. Many of our members who are in China in 2020 were operating there in 1920.

Brad Smith

Brad Smith is Chief International Officer managing the international relations program at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). He is responsible for coordinating policy and program initiatives of ACLI’s International Markets and Trade Committee. Since joining ACLI in 1997, his focus areas have included insurance market liberalization for U.S. companies overseas, especially in China, Japan and India.