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Emerging markets hold strong growth, potential


ZURICH, Switzerland—Growth in insurance business in emerging markets continued to perform strongly in 2005, according to a report from Swiss Reinsurance Co.

Life and nonlife insurance premiums recorded gains of 7.5% and 6.0%, respectively, the Zurich, Switzerland-based reinsurer said in its latest sigma report.

This growth happened in spite of rising global interest rates and commodity prices.

And the prospects for 2006 and 2007 remain strong, despite persisting geopolitical tensions, "shrinking global liquidity," and the unpredictability of the global interest rate cycle, according to the "sigma No 1" report.

The report highlighted a possible weak link in the emerging markets insurance business: the agricultural insurance sector, where total premiums were estimated at around $1.1 billion in 2005.

This is less than 20% of the global total, despite emerging markets accounting for nearly 70% of the world's food production.

Swiss Re estimates that the volume of emerging market agricultural insurance has the potential to reach $10 billion "if governments and insurers become more proactive."

"Agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors of emerging markets. A properly designed risk management system is essential for protecting farm operators and reinforcing rural development. Existing agricultural insurance regimes in emerging economies, however, show a mixed record: Some schemes suffer from low insurance penetration and weak underwriting performance, due to high administration costs or adverse selection," said the report.

More information on the report is available at