Myanmar admits foreign life insurers

KO PHOE THAR is a cheery 22-year-old liquor-store clerk from Mandalay, a city in central Myanmar. Death, and other less-certain future misfortunes, are far from his mind. A host of insurance companies newly arrived in the country would like to change that. Last week the finance ministry issued licences to foreign life insurers for the first time. Five—AIA, Chubb, Dai-Ichi Life, Manulife and Prudential PLC—have been permitted to operate as wholly owned subsidiaries. Others are required to find local partners.

Foreign insurers have long licked their lips at the prospect of moving into Myanmar. South-East Asia’s largest mainland country, it is home to 54m people, more than half of whom are under 30. Less than 4% of the population has insurance of any sort. But under military dictatorship, which ended in 2011, the market was monopolised by a state firm.

Not until the country made the transition to democracy, and the government loosened its grip on the economy, were local private insurers allowed to operate. Even after Aung San Suu Kyi, whose ruling party was elected in 2015, promised to allow foreign investment in the sector, there were delays. Fed up with the government’s sluggishness, Samsung Life Insurance, a South Korean firm, closed its Yangon office last year. 

Other insurers are betting their patience...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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