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Insurance firm Marsh launches China desk in Dubai to tap growing commerce

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By Reuters

By Tom Arnold

DUBAI (Reuters) – Marsh, one of the world’s largest insurance brokers and risk advisers, has launched a China desk in Dubai to benefit from growing commercial links between China, the Middle East and Africa, its regional chief executive said.

The subsidiary of U.S. professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Cos <MMC.N> is the latest multinational to establish a China desk in Dubai, which is acting as a conduit for regional business emerging from China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Marsh has picked up deals related to infrastructure projects since setting up the desk in the summer, said Christos Adamantiadis, Middle East and Africa chief executive.

“There is exponential growth [opportunities] but it’s starting from a low base,” he said. “We have already some traction. We have found a few projects in Africa but it’s not restricted to Africa. There’s also Chinese investment in the Middle East. Our main focus is China and Chinese contractors and principles.”

Africa and the Middle East are an important part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative, a $126 billion plan to bolster a network of infrastructure connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Banks Standard Chartered <STAN.L>, HSBC <HSBA.L> and Citigroup <C.N> already have China desks in the emirate.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Adamantiadis said in 2019 Marsh hopes to receive an insurance broking licence in Iraq, where infrastructure needs to be rebuilt after a nearly four-year war against the Islamic State.

($1 = 0.7895 pounds)

(Editing by Louise Heavens)