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    Russia to open insurance sector to foreigners in 9 years - Gref

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    Branches of foreign insurance companies will be allowed to operate on Russia's market in nine years' time, the country's economics minister said Sunday.

    HANOI, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - Branches of foreign insurance companies will be allowed to operate on Russia's market in nine years' time, the country's economics minister said Sunday.

    Speaking to reporters in Hanoi, where he had attended this weekend's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, German Gref said, "We will open our insurance market to branches of foreign companies, but not until a nine-year transition period is over."

    "Subsidiaries 100% [foreign owned] will be allowed into the Russian market with a 50% [investment] quota," he added.

    Access of foreign companies to Russia's insurance and banking sectors was one of the main stumbling blocks in bilateral U.S.-Russian talks on the country's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

    On day two of the APEC summit, Gref and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab finally signed a WTO accession protocol after Russia agreed it will allow up to 100% foreign ownership of its banks and investment companies when it joins the world's largest trade body, and that it will let foreigners enter its insurance market after a transition period. Until then, foreign insurance companies will be able to operate in Russia through subsidiaries, including 100% foreign-owned non-life insurance companies, with foreign investment in the sectors to be limited to 50%.

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