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IUMI turns the spotlight on Asia….

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Ole Wikborg

Ole Wikborg

IUMI turns the spotlight on Asia as it gears up for its 2014 annual conference in Hong Kong,  By James Brewer

 A strong emphasis on Asian markets will be a feature of the 2014 annual conference of the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), it is clear from the agenda for the major event, which will take place in Hong Kong from September 21-24.

With the theme “Building Expertise for a Changing World” the gathering will focus on topics including those which are specific to the Far East and its fast growing maritime sector.

IUMI secretary general Lars Lange said: “The developing markets in Asia are playing a significant role in the marine and cargo insurance markets and we are delighted that we have been able to host the annual conference in Hong Kong in recognition of that increasing role.”

IUMI has 54 national associations as members. The annual meeting is a platform for gauging the problems facing the shipping and insurance sectors and publication of key industry statistics, with lively presentations by leading experts.

Mr Lange said: “The conference will feature a range of senior speakers and address topics which are of global concern to the marine insurance sector and those that are specific to the Asia region. The opportunities for marine insurers in Asia are evident but there remain challenges for the underwriters both in term of the risks they are being asked to assume and the need to ensure that firms possess the necessary expertise to understand those risks.”

Lars Lange

Lars Lange

The event will be opened with a keynote address by the Hon C Y Leung, chief executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Subsequent speakers will include SCOR Group chairman and chief executive Denis Kessler who will examine “Expertise and knowledge management as key features of sustainable growth – the case for Asia.“

Matters of global concern under scrutiny will include places of refuge, cyber risk, Arctic shipping, revision of the York-Antwerp-Rules and the increasing criminalisation of seafarers and masters.

Several sessions will be geared to the Asia region. Delegates are set to discuss ferry safety and development, and the new rail Silk Road: the China – Europe land-bridge. There will be a panel discussion on challenges of underwriting cargo in Asia.

In keeping with the overall theme of the conference there will be a session on building expertise in Asia Pacific construction and offshore development, in the light of the task of enhancing the experience and skill-sets needed to underwrite marine and energy risks in Asia.

The final afternoon will see the election of a new president to replace Ole Wikborg of the Norwegian Hull Club. The announcement of the candidate will be made by IUMI’s nominating committee, and there has been speculation that Munich Re executive Dieter Berg will be proposed for the role.

Mr Berg has long been a strong supporter of IUMI and is currently a vice-chairman. He has taken a close interest in many of the top questions for insurers, including piracy, the advent of mega-containerships, and the rising cost of casualties.

If his expected appointment is confirmed, he will preside over the IUMI annual meeting in Berlin in 2015. IUMI presidents usually serve for three years, although Mr Wikborg has been in the post for four years, during which time the IUMI secretariat was moved to Hamburg.

As traditional, the 2014 conference will make a donation to a maritime charity, with the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers having chosen for this year The Sailor’s Society, an independent Christian society.

The Hong Kong Federation, which is the conference host, will present its donation on the opening morning to Simon Doughty, chief executive of Wallem Group Hong Kong, as a representative of the charity regionally.

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