Following is the speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the Cocktail Reception in Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers today (October 16)(English only):
Mr Johnson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honour to be here tonight, to be among friends from the insurance sector at this cocktail reception marking the 10th birthday of the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers. First of all, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Confederation on this joyful occasion.
Hong Kong is one of the most open insurance centres in the world, and has the highest concentration of insurers in Asia. In 2002, the total gross premiums of the Hong Kong insurance market reached $89 billion, which is equivalent to about 7% of Hong Kong's GDP. It is evident that the insurance industry forms an integral part of Hong Kong's financial services and plays a significant role in the economic development of the territory. The Government is committed as ever to maintaining Hong Kong's position as a regional insurance centre. We believe that a close partnership with the insurance sector is a key to its success. The Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers has no doubt done a commendable job in forging this partnership over the past 10 years.
The year 2003 is a special year for Hong Kong. In addition to an economic downturn, the past nine months have seen unprecedented challenges for the Hong Kong people, not least the outbreak of SARS. Notwithstanding these challenges, Hong Kong's insurance industry continues to develop and prosper. As a matter of fact, the total gross premiums of the Hong Kong insurance market has surged to $48 billion in the first half of 2003, representing a 9% increase compared with the corresponding period in 2002. This achievement is owed in no small part to the dedication and efforts of our industry participants, including all of you. I believe the experience of the difficult period in the past year or so has heightened public awareness of the function of insurance as a means for individuals to mitigate the impact of adversity. This should be one of the driving forces for further expansion in Hong Kong's insurance industry.
The promising development potential can only be harvested with a strong force of quality insurance practitioners. With the introduction of more sophisticated products on the one hand, and louder calls for consumer protection in recent years on the other, the role of the insurance practitioners is becoming increasingly important.
As I mentioned earlier, the Confederation has since its establishment contributed greatly towards the continuous development of the insurance industry. Among others, it has dedicated much effort to upgrading the professionalism of its members from all ranks of insurance practitioners, promoting high-quality services and helping to educate the insuring public. It has also played a vital role in the development of the existing self-regulatory system for insurance brokers. All these lay a good foundation for the future development of the insurance industry. Here, I would like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation of the Confederation's contribution over the years. In particular, I would like to thank the Confederation for working closely with the Insurance Authority in taking forward a series of measures to further enhance the professional standards of insurance intermediaries in Hong Kong. A notable example was the successful launch of the Insurance Intermediaries Quality Assurance Scheme in January 2000. I am confident that the Authority and the Confederation will continue to join hands with the common objective of ensuring a vibrant insurance industry and safeguarding Hong Kong's status as an insurance centre in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to have the opportunity to share this evening with you. I wish the Confederation and the whole insurance industry another prosperous and rewarding year.
Ends/Thursday, October 16, 2003