In overseas ventures, insurance gives firms a sure footing

Updated: Apr 28, 2019 By CHEN YINGQUN China Daily Print
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A signboard of China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, also known as Sinosure, is pictured on a building in Shanghai, China on March 11, 2014. [Photo/IC]

Overseas investment inevitably means risks and uncertainties for Chinese companies, but many have started using insurance services to help control and reduce risks.

"Chinese companies face new situations while investing overseas, namely that global politics and economics have become more complex," said Wang Tingke, general manager of China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, or Sinosure, China's State-funded policy-oriented insurance company.

"So while going abroad, Chinese companies need to increase their awareness of risks and set up comprehensive risk management systems."

Sinosure, established in 2001, said that it has supported Chinese companies export or invest in countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative to a total of value $724 billion by the end of March, since 2013.

It has set up more than 2,300 insurance policies for projects that Chinese companies are carrying out in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, and has paid a total of $2.8 billion in insurance claims to Chinese companies.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build stronger links among countries across the globe.

Guan Wenfeng, assistant general manager of Sinosure Fujian branch in Fujian province, said that about 10 years ago he needed to keep telling companies that have international business or want to invest overseas what policy-oriented insurance products are. But gradually more companies started contacting Sinosure to find out about insurance services for investing overseas.

"The first year we established Fujian branch in 2002, the insured amount by Sinosure Fujian was only $34 million," he said. "Last year it was $13.6 billion."

At present Sinosure's overseas investment insurance protects investors from economic losses resulting from political risks such as expropriation, exchange restrictions, war, political instability and breach of contract in countries where investments are made.

It also offers insurance products to companies or financial institutions, encouraging financial institutions to provide loans or other Sinosure-approved forms of financing for Chinese companies' overseas investment projects by assuming the loss of their claims on debts.

Sinosure also offers consultancy services to its customers, including evaluating risk in places where investment is proposed. The Handbook of Country Risk, an annual report first published in 2005, has become an important reference for Chinese companies investing overseas.

The report conducts in-depth analyses on four types of risk in destination countries: political, economic, business environment and legal. It also reports on risks in different industries, providing company case studies, and then offers suggestions accordingly.

"The annual handbook by Sinosure is an important guidance for us in avoiding risks overseas or when we are looking for new market opportunities," said Wang Lijun, vice-president of China Road and Bridge Corporation.

A policy-oriented insurance company such as Sinosure offers a great deal of support for Chinese companies and products going overseas. With the support of Sinosure's insurance services, CRBC has received loans totaling about $10 billion and has completed several important projects in countries including the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya and the Maputo Bridge and Link Roads in Mozambique.

Chen Zhongjie, general manager of Hongdong Fishery, a company based in Fujian province, said that as a private fishery company, it is difficult for it to obtain loans for investing overseas, and his knowledge about overseas markets is limited.

Sinosure's insurance services have helped Hongdong obtain financing and accelerated Hongdong's construction of a whole industrial chain fishery plant in Mauritania, where infrastructure was very poor.

"Chinese companies do invest in the fishing industry overseas, but everybody faces different situations, including differences in policies, regulations and cultures," Chen said. "Sinosure has given us a lot of information about investment destinations. Its insurance services have increased our credit and helped us obtain financing from banks, which in turn has helped ensure the success of our project."

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