Letter to the The Honourable Ed Fast Re: Advancing negotiations on an International Services Agreement at the World Trade OrganizationRelease Date: 01/25/2013 Staff Reference: Janice Hilchie
January 25, 2013
The Honourable Ed Fast
Minister for International Trade and the Asia-Pacific Gateway
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Dear Minister Fast:
Re: Advancing negotiations on an International Services Agreement at the World Trade Organization
I am writing to lend the life and health insurance industry's support for your efforts in advocating for the start of negotiations on an International Services Agreement (ISA) at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Established in 1894, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) is a voluntary trade association that represents the collective interests of its member life and health insurers. The Association’s membership accounts for 99 per cent of the life and health insurance in force in Canada and administers about two-thirds of Canada’s pension plans.
Our industry has clearly demonstrated an ability to compete in foreign markets. Internationally, Canadian lifecos are active in over 20 jurisdictions around the world. They hold almost $600 billion in assets abroad and generate more than $56 billion or 44 per cent of their total annual premiums from foreign operations. Given our proven track record in operating abroad, any opening of markets globally can create a real opportunity for our companies to expand and grow. This in turn means more high quality head office jobs here in Canada and more and better returns for Canadian shareholders.
We would therefore like to encourage the Government to do what it can to create the conditions for an ambitious agreement which makes significant inroads in terms of reducing barriers to trade in insurance. To this end, we hope that the 18 confirmed participants in these negotiations will put forward offers of the highest quality by adopting a negative list approach and that other WTO member countries (including key emerging countries such as China and India) will eventually decide to join the discussions.
We would like to wish you and your team of trade negotiators every success in the upcoming negotiations and stand ready to assist in any way we can.