Life insurers are welcoming news that the United States has reached an agreement that could lead to approval of a trade agreement with one of the largest life insurance markets in the world.
President Obama has announced that U.S. and South Korean officials have cleared the last obstacles to completing work on the Korea – United States (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement.
Financial services provisions in the agreement would put the government-owned insurers in Korea under the same set of regulations that apply to private insurers, and that could help both Korean and non-Korean private insurers, U.S. insurers say.
Korea has the eighth largest insurance market in the world.
The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), Washington, “enthusiastically welcomes the announcement and is fully supportive of quick congressional consideration and passage of this agreement,” the ACLI says in a statement about news of progress on KORUS.
“KORUS would eliminate many of the regulatory and economic barriers that have prevented American businesses from achieving their full potential in the booming South Korean economy,” the ACLI says.
KORUS “contains the strongest and most promising commitments ever achieved for our industry” in a free trade agreement, the ACLI says.
KORUS “should be implemented promptly,” the ACLI says.
The ACLI says it looks forward to working with Congress on swift adoption of the agreement.
C. Robert Henrikson, chairman of MetLife Inc., New York (NYSE:MET), put out a statement of his own welcoming the progress on KORUS.
“Today’s announcement is possible thanks to the unwavering commitment of both governments to overcome barriers to economic growth,” Henrikson says.
MetLife has had operations in Korea for more than 20 years, and KORUS should help the company expand the range of products it offers in that country, Henrikson says.
Like the ACLI, MetLife says it would like to see swift congressional action on KORUS.