China and India were identified as the two priority markets for UK insurers in an industry paper submitted by the ABI to the UK government.
Hong Kong (SAR), Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea were also named.
The countries were selected based on market size, growth potential, and the presence of existing commercial and regulatory relationships.
International trade deals
Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, said the insurance and long-term savings industry can be a frontrunner in the race to get the most out of new international trade deals in the wake of the Brexit vote.
The paper advocates a gradual approach to secure improvements in the ease of doing business.
“With protectionist forces growing in strength across the world, the insurance industry can become a leading example of how free trade can benefit everyone."
It also identifies some of the key protectionist or discriminatory practices that need to be addressed for UK insurers to build their business in these markets.
These include easing restrictions on foreign direct investment or limits on equity stakes in domestic insurers and tackling discriminatory measures, such as reinsurance collateral requirements.
Palpable, exciting growth opportunities
Evans said: “We are setting out the industry’s priority markets and what we think needs to be done to open them up further. Many insurers are already operating in the markets identified, but the potential for further growth is palpable and exciting.
“With protectionist forces growing in strength across the world, the insurance industry can become a leading example of how free trade can benefit everyone. The UK is seen as a world leader, and can help many emerging and developed countries that exhibit significant under-insurance.
“Trade deals offer the opportunity of a partnership between the expertise and best practice of British providers and the growing insurance needs of these countries.”
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), exports of insurance services declined in the past two quarters, falling £0.2bn between January to March, and April to June, and a further £0.2bn between April to June and July to September.
Nevertheless, insurance services retain one of the largest trade surpluses of any UK industry at £3.6bn.