DUTCH TREAT: INSURER TO FUND CHINESE EFFORT TO UPGRADE \ ING TO GIVE $60,000 FOR TRAINING CENTER

DUTCH TREAT: INSURER TO FUND CHINESE EFFORT TO UPGRADE \ ING TO GIVE $60,000 FOR TRAINING CENTER

China's efforts to bring its insurance industry into line with international standards are getting a boost from the Dutch, and that may help the Dutch as well.

The ING Insurance unit of ING Internationale Nederlande Groep NV of Amsterdam will donate 500,000 yuan ($60,000) to set up a training and examination center in Beijing.It will operate under the auspices of Life Office Management Association Inc. of Atlanta at the graduate school of People's Bank of China, the central bank.

LOMA, as the U.S. group is known, holds 100,000 examinations worldwide each year for the designation Fellow of the Life Insurance Management Institute. More than 800 took the exam in China last year.

China is expected to rank second or third among countries taking the examination over the next five years, said Thomas Donaldson, president and chief executive of LOMA. Translation of exam papers is under way and will be ready for use early next year, he said.

This will be the third LOMA center sponsored by ING China, and it's not wholly altruistic. Licenses to write policies are doled out only gradually by the government, and concrete assistance to the sector or some other area often speeds the process.

Phillip Sherriff, chief executive of ING Financial Services International Asia, said his firm is actively involved in China's efforts to develop a social security system, reform its housing system and improve the education system.

Mr. Sherriff expressed the hope that ING Insurance will soon obtain approval to do underwriting business in China so it could ''contribute more to the country's reform and opening drive.''

Only a handful of foreign companies are licensed so far, led by the American International Assurance Co. unit of New York-based American International Group Inc. and Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co. Since them, China has insisted that overseas players form joint ventures as a way to help its small but growing number of domestic insurers.

AIG is forecasting a 40 percent increase in premium income this year in China, from last year's $80 million to $100 million.

Pending a license, insurance firms are required to operate nonproductive representative offices for up to three years.

Liberty Mutual Group recently won approval to set up such an office in Chongqing, the main commercial center of southwestern Sichuan province, rather than the more customary Beijing or Shanghai.

Boston-based Liberty, a specialist in workers compensation, is the first foreign underwriter to open there.

''We believe Chongqing will play an essential role in the development and modernization of Southwest China (and) hope we will be able to contribute in some way,'' Thomas Ramey, president of Liberty International, was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua news agency.

Thomas Tuttle, director of the firm's investment arm, Newport Pacific Management, said that company is cooperating with local government officials to find the best method for direct investment.

One way would be to introduce funds and technology from their customers directly into the city. The other - thought to be preferred by Chongqing officials - would be to launch a joint venture fund.

At about the same time, broker Aon Corp. Bain Hogg Group PLC set up a representative office in eastern Jiangsu province, Xinhua said. The company, British unit of Aon Corp. of Chicago, is the first foreign-funded insurance agent there.