The World Bank and Japan will promote Thailand as the insurance centre of Asean to help develop the industry in neighbouring countries and provide professional services to the more advanced economies.
The move is also expected to upgrade the insurance industries in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia to be compatible with Thailand's and in line with the policies of this country's Office of the Insurance Commission.
Pravej Ongartsittigul, secretary-general of the OIC, said yesterday that after his recent meeting with the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, the World Bank had proposed Thailand as an insurance centre for Asean.
Initially, the World Bank will coordinate with the 10 Asean countries to bring their insurance development into the same direction for the Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will take shape in 2015.
Technical assistance, including knowledge and information, will be provided by the bank to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, where insurance development is slower.
The World Bank will take its role in a meeting of insurance business supervisory agencies in Asia, which will be held in Thailand next month.
The bank's policy is in line with the OIC's plan aimed at helping develop the four countries' insurance business along the lines of Thailand's, Pravej said. This would also help Thai insurance companies to take part in the development and offer insurance products in the future.
Thailand will also promote itself as a hub for insurance services to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.
After his discussion with the World Bank, Pravej went to Japan to meet with major insurance companies there that are planning to use Thailand as a hub in the north of Indochina for their business expansion. They cited Thailand's geographical advantage in the middle of Asean for the expansion. One interested Japanese insurer is among the top three in Japan and has offices in Thailand.
The World Bank and Japanese insurers will help transfer knowledge to Thai personnel and Thailand will play a more important role in the AEC, he said.
Thailand's insurance liberalisation is progressing in a systematic way. The next step is to hold discussions with insurers for preparation and the next moves, Pravej said.
In Asean, Singapore leads in insurance development, followed by Thailand and Malaysia.
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