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“Asia is a big country” – A Credit Insurance Perspective

Richard Wulff1News from our friends at ICISA – International Credit Insurance & Surety Association

ICISA’s Asia Subcommittee met on Friday 27 February in Hong Kong. Over 20 delegates from twelve member companies as well as a member from the Berne Union had discussions about the Asian region from a trade credit insurance perspective.

The Chair, Richard Wulff looks back on this meeting with great satisfaction. “Hong Kong was chosen as location for this meeting as it is geographically convenient for most members. This was clearly visible in having 12 companies participate at the meeting.” The meeting itself also met our expectations Richard notes. “Having the members, who are active in Asia together in Hong Kong contributed to the goals of the association. It promotes sustained technical excellence, industry innovation and product integrity. The discussion was as lively as it can only be when members meet face to face. Non-competitive issues of importance to the industry and our customers were discussed in an open atmosphere.”

The meetings are clearly of increasing value to the participants. Since the start of the Asia Sub-committee, the number of participants, but notably the number of Asian representatives has increased. “This is illustrated by the high level of involvement of for example PICC. I herewith would use the opportunity for special welcome on behalf of the Committee members to the newly elected vice-chair, Mdm Zhongzhu Chen of PICC”, Richard explains.

“Location certainly plays a role”, Richard adds. “But at least as important is the perceived value of the Asia Sub-committee”, he underlines. “There is a number of issues surrounding our industry and visible in our portfolios of risk. Three of the issues discussed, regulation in Indonesia, regulation in Malaysia and the prevalence of fraud, are a direct examples of that.” But there is according to Richard more to it. “Members in the region realize that other members might have a piece of the ‘best practice-puzzle’. As do I, the members realize that by contributing, they get something back to benefit their respective company and clients. That is what ICISA stands for.”

The Committee had an inviting and challenging agenda. “The meeting started off with a presentation on the international economic prospects and those of some Asian countries by the Chief Economist for Asia of IHS, Mr. Rajiv Biswas. We were extremely happy to have him present his views to us. It would not be a surprise that commodity prices and the current geo-political situation came to the fore.” This presentation gave not only food for thought, but also kick-started discussions on the other agenda topics such as a member’s view on the international and Asian reinsurance market and the desirability and enforceability of parental guarantees in a number of Asian countries.”

Regarding the outlook for the industry in Asia Richard noted generally an optimistic feeling. “The outlook is optimistic. It is clear that Asia is the place where we can grow profitably. The past years, as well as macro-economic prospects prove this point.” But the members also identified potential threats for the industry in the Asian region. “Three issues were discussed, which are not necessarily threats, more ‘work to do’. First of all the importance of building deeper/different distribution to serve a much larger part of the market and the necessity to adapt to local customs, not necessarily copying the western-style wordings and way of working. Also the issue of fraud remains on the table. Developing a different style of policy underwriting as well as building deep recovery networks might be a key to this. Under the guidance of ICISA, members can build a set of ideas on issues like these. Making these ideas operational is the task of each individual member.”

Looking back on the meeting Richard concludes that “with this meeting ICISA has definitely proved its value.  If a member is active in the Asian market place, this Sub-committee is the chance to influence the future of our industry. As the famous philosopher David Beckham said: ‘Asia is a big country’. No single company can hope to build the market by itself. The Asia Sub-committee is a step in addressing working within a market of this scale and diversity.”

About the Author: Richard Wulff, is Group General Manager, Credit & Surety at QBE Insurance Group.  He was chair of ICISA’s Asia Subcommittee on their meeting in Hong Kong

This article was published in the April edition of the ICISA Newsletter

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