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Time:March 23-25, 2019
Beijing Diaoyutai State Guesthouse
Sponsor:Development Research Center of the State Council
Organiser:China Development Research Foundation
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How insurance contributes to sustainable growth and development in emerging markets and China

Christian Mumenthaler,

Group Chief Executive Officer, Swiss Re


China has undergone enormous transformation over the last 40 years. Gross domestic production (GDP) has increased very rapidly and today, GDP per capita is eight times what it was at the beginning of the millennium. Standards of living in China are much higher, and there has been a large reduction in poverty, with more than 800 million people lifted out of poverty since China initiated market reforms in 1978. The impact of very rapid economic growth has been felt far beyond China's borders, benefitting the entire Asia region and the world, including my home country Switzerland.

Currently, however, there is a slowdown in the global economy and there are some structural headwinds to continued strong growth in China. These include the need to redress some economic imbalances at home. My intention here is to demonstrate the value proposition of the global insurance and reinsurance industry, and how these can be leveraged to address future challenges to growth: both at home in China, and so that the global economy can continue to profit from your economic success.

Today sustainable economic growth is high up on governments' agendas. It is about taking a long-term development perspective, looking after the well-being of citizens and the environment. Sustainable growth and development can only be realised when a society is resilient, in the sense of being able to withstand and recover swiftly from external shocks. The larger the capacity of the system to regenerate after a significant shock event, the smaller the resilience "gap" (ie, the more resilient the system is). At Swiss Re, we believe sustainability and resilience are two sides of the same coin and also hallmarks of international competitiveness.

China has shown remarkable progress in terms of sustainability and resilience in recent years. Examples include a swift recovery following the global financial crisis in 2008-09 and the country's ability to withstand various natural catastrophes and extreme climate events. Nevertheless, the increasing frequency and intensity of global shocks and disruptions remains a threat to a sustainable future. Further, with ongoing urbanisation and modernisation in China, the costs associated with shock events are getting ever higher. With economic growth, the nature of risks that China faces has changed, becoming more complex and systemically relevant. This requires ever higher standards of resilience if development in China is to remain sustainable. In this context, we believe insurance and reinsurance are natural partners for China.

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