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Myanmar: Insurance market will be open to foreign firms in 2017

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Nov 2016

The Myanmar government is planning to open the country’s fledgling insurance industry to foreign companies next year as well as loosen restrictions for local players.
 
   Work has already begun on a “liberalisation roadmap” that needs to be presented to the government in December, 
U Thant Zin, an official in the Financial Regulation Department of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, told The Myanmar Times.
 
   The government will hold careful discussions about whether to allow 100% foreign-owned insurers or to require foreign investors to form joint ventures with local firms. The government would also have to decide which sectors it would allow foreign insurers to compete in, he said.
 
   Over 20 foreign insurance companies have opened representative offices in Myanmar. Three Japanese insurers were granted business licences last year to operate in a special economic zone.
 
   At the same time, the government will remove restrictions on local firms that force them to offer the same – often unpopular – products at the same prices.
 
   State-owned Myanma Insurance’s decades-long monopoly was broken in 2013 when 12 privately-held local insurers were allowed to enter the market. However, they are allowed to compete on customer service only.
 
   The government has also approved the establishment of an industry association that will be consulted on the liberalisation process.
 
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