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Myanmar: Liberalisation expected soon in insurance sector

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Oct 2018

The programme of reforms announced by the Insurance Business Regulatory Board is expected to open up several activities to insurers soon.
The regional law firm, Tilleke & Gibbins, commenting on the programme, said that the activities, among others, expected to be opened up with limited conditions, to foreign insurers are:
  • Sale of life and non-life insurance policies to the general public;
  • Underwriting a wide range of insurance products and services; and
  • Insurance brokerage and agency.
Life insurance activities are expected to be opened to companies with 100% foreign ownership, while foreign insurers seeking to carry out non-life insurance activities will likely have to partner with a local company. Under the Myanmar Companies Law, they will be able to form a joint venture with one of Myanmar’s existing licensed insurers and hold shares of up to 35%.
With very limited exceptions, foreign insurers have been completely barred from offering their services in Myanmar for over 50 years, and currently only have a local presence by way of a representative office. There are currently 11 local insurance providers licensed to operate in Myanmar, and in practice a single state-owned enterprise holds a near-total monopoly on insurance activities. 
Tilleke & Gibbins said, “This liberalisation is therefore an extremely substantial reform, and could unleash the significant untapped potential of this nascent industry.” A 
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