MNCs in the News*
April 24th, 2017
Big foreign companies increasingly willing to voice complaints about the situation in China. China’s limits on capital outflows affect the willingness of some to invest in China. Beijing is considering “braking” the requirement capping foreign companies ownership in the auto sector to no more than 50 percent with some predicting a crash of domestic firms if this happens. China’s nonfinancial outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) experienced major drops in March over the prior year and over the first quarter of 2017 year-over-year (YOY). China’s One Belt, one Road (OBOR) initiative leads to the signing of a major number of transportation related accords. Sharp considers joint bid with Hon Hai on Toshiba’s memory chip unit as it seeks to mitigate national security concerns. Kia plans USD $900 billion car manufacturing plant in India to surmount India’s steep import duties and China’s anti-Korean economic sanctions. Malaysian trade mission to South Korea brings home Korean investment worth around USD $550 million. Malaysia seeks to increase its cooperation with New Zealand in IT and tourism sectors. Vietnam develops public-private partnership framework allowing more foreign investment particularly from Japan in its infrastructure sector. Hoang Son Trading Investment JSC partners with Spanish-Japanese joint venture to build new solar plant in Vietnam.
April 18th, 2017
China announces draft rule that would require certain firms to obtain permission to transfer data out of China. Apple promotes the adoption by yet more of its China suppliers of renewable energy. A Chinese think tank and corporate collaborator release a report showing that Chinese firms have been substantially boosting their investment in the manufacturing sector. Potential seen for greater Chinese involvement in ambitious American infrastructure programs. China and Myanmar agree to open oil pipeline linking Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port to Yunnan, China. Likely opposition from Japanese and US government may drive Toshiba to reject highest bid from Taiwan’s China-connected Hon Hai. Korean companies participate in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 project and, accordingly, will get special support from the Saudi government. Foreign firms pour money into South Korea’s IT, fashion, and entertainment startups to profit from Korea’s cultural power. News reports reveal Malaysia Korea Partners funneled money to the leadership in Pyongyang for decades, violating UN sanctions. China’s Alibaba Group and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) jointly establish Digital Free Trade Zone. Cheaper labor, less stringent legal structure, and better intellectual property right protections spur Italian corporate pivot from China into Vietnam. Local officials in Can Tho court French investment in various sectors including agriculture.
April 11th, 2017
China’s State Council creates seven new free trade zones bringing the total number in the country to 11. China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) pushes foreign businesses to support its efforts to limit capital outflows from China. Prior to Donald Trump-Xi Jinping meeting, Chinese parliamentarian links the quality of the meeting to Google’s prospects for entering China. European Union regulators approve China National Chemical Corporations (ChemChina)’s massive acquisition of Syngenta while requiring some significant divestitures. Trump administration considers some dramatic steps to keep Westinghouse’s nuclear business out of Chinese hands. Sibanye Gold Ltd.’s proposed investment in Stillwater mining may not be golden because of American concerns over strategic materials access. Iran-Japan Investment Treaty enters into force on April 26 and may spur Japanese energy investment in Iran. Japanese foreign acquisitions hit a new record of almost USD $100 billion in fiscal year 2016, but performance is dubious. South Korea’s installation of the THAAD system continues to affect adversely Sino-Korean economic relations and Korean businesses. The fallout between China and South Korea over THAAD contributes to South Korean car manufacturers reducing production in their Chinese factories. Consortium of Chinese and Indonesian companies signs contract launching the construction phase of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train project. Afghan President Ghani encourages Indonesian investors to invest in Afghanistan and stresses the security of foreign investors as a top government priority. Tier-one American aerospace manufacturer may invest in Malaysia stimulating business for small and medium enterprises and creating high-income jobs. India and Malaysia sign investment deals with a value of USD $36 billion. Belgium plans to ramp up green energy investment in Vietnam.
April 3rd, 2017
Chinese government financial institutions intensify their backing for China’s “Made in China 2025” initiative and press non-governmental bodies to increase their support. Chinese law on joint ventures with specific requirements regarding new energy vehicles alarms foreign carmakers which fear they will be required to transfer technology. Beijing Intellectual Property Court supports Apple on design patent dispute with Shenzhen Baili. United States Trade Representative office issues report on trade barriers, highlighting many problems relating to China’s treatment of American companies in China. Chinese officials continue to defend their intensified oversight of Chinese outward investment. Tsinghua Unigroup garners massive new aid pledges from the China Development Bank and China national chip fund. Myanmar reportedly will restart construction on a China financed oil pipeline. Last week, the Chinese business community in Kenya establishing a lobbying group. Westinghouse’s bankruptcy filing means troubled Toshiba faces a potential net loss of USD $9 billion net loss in 2016. Russia and Japan discuss plans for investment projects and other joint cooperation on the disputed Kuril Islands. SK Innovation Co. freezes the operations of its battery packing plant in China, denying they relate to Chinese economic sanctions against Korea. Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. secures Saudi Arabia seawater desalination deal worth over USD $400 million. Mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia agrees to convert its contract of work into a special mining permit, providing a potential basis for a settlement of its disputes with the Indonesia government.
March 30th, 2017
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (United States) has called for global action in the face of China’s Made in China 2025 plan. Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) official defends his country’s “Made in China 2025” plan. China’s Food and Drug Administration issues draft policy that would allow foreign drugs to be tested and approved much more quickly in China. During a visit to China, Apple CEO Tim Cook announces Apple will open new R&D centers in Shanghai and Suzhou. Microsoft touts the development of a China-specific Windows 10 operating system that is “secure and controllable.” Chinese government agencies are working on a policy that would specify those sectors where outward foreign direct investment (FDI) was encouraged and those where it was restricted. Tokyo says it does not plan to support troubled Toshiba and that it will share information with Washington about Toshiba and its bankrupt US nuclear division. Japanese and Russian officials meet to discuss ways to jointly develop the islands off Hokkaido they both claim. South Korea asks the World Trade Organization to review Chinese sanctions against Korean companies relating to its deployment of THAAD. South Korea’s SK Engineering & Constructions partners with Turkey’s UNIT International to win multi-billion dollar power plant construction project in Iran. Energy firms urge Indonesian government to enhance its policies in the upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors.
March 20th, 2017
Foreign companies change “government” relations practices in China to adjust to the newfound role of the Communist Party. Boeing will work with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd., a Chinese state-owned enterprise, to construct a Boeing 737 completion center near Shanghai. During his visit to China, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman signs agreements with a potential value in the tens of billions of dollars, many relating to the construction of petrochemical facilities in China. The head of the People’s Bank of China decries irrational investments in defending the government’s recent imposition of capital controls. Japan and Saudi Arabia agree to study the value of special economic zones as a means to attract Japanese companies to Saudi Arabia. Toshiba’s financial woes, relating to its troubled American Westinghouse unit, are raising all kinds of national security, job, and financial issues for the Japanese and American governments. Japan may use various economic laws to ensure Toshiba’s memory chip unit is not sold to a bidder that may represent a national security risk. Myanmar authorities give KB Kookmin Bank permission to establish a cooperative microfinance venture in the country. Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. wins a USD $408 million deal to upgrade an existing Indonesian power plant. Indonesia runs major investment promotion event in Singapore. Indonesia Tourism Ministry courts Singaporean investment in North Sumatra airport and other infrastructure.
March 15th, 2017
European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing highlights China’s 2025 Plan as possibly violating China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. China’s re-imposition of capital controls becomes a hot issue at China’s 2017 National People Congress meeting. Facing seemingly severe constraints on their ability to access/use yuan, Chinese corporate executives are complaining about the impact of such limits on their ability to do deals. In the face of possible increased American trade barriers, Great Wall Motor Co. ponders building its first factory in the United States (U.S.). Wanfeng Auto Holding Group looks to the U.S. for deals to jump potential tariff and other barriers in the U.S. Toyota Motor Corp. may wait until economic fallout of Brexit becomes clearer until it decides whether or not to produce the next generation Auris in the United Kingdom (U.K.). Honda announces plans to invest $150 million in transmission facilities in Georgia and Ohio in the US. Chinese sanctions against South Korea because of the latter’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system hit Korean companies inside and outside China. Korea’s Trade Minister meets with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to seek ways to boost investment and other forms of cooperation. Indonesia explores new levels of investment cooperation with Japan. Indonesia welcomes small amount of investment from Saudi Arabia flowing from visit of Saudi king, but does not receive large amounts expected.
March 6th, 2017
China’s elderly care needs create space for foreign investors. China’s efforts to control capital flight are leading to increased bureaucratic review and deal delays. Japan’s Takata Corp. enters into a settlement pursuant to which it accepted a felony charge and will create two compensation funds worth USD $1 billion. Nissan Motor Co. faces fines relating to worker injuries at its Mississippi and Tennessee auto factories. Despite the threat of Chinese sanctions, Lotte Group exchanges land with the Korean government that the latter wants for its THAAD missile system deployment. In the face of US President Donald Trump’s threat of tariffs on goods imported from Mexico, LG Electronics announced plans for a home appliance plant in Tennessee that will produce for the US market. Freeport McMoran and Indonesia battle it out with some optimistic a settlement will be reached and others fretting about adverse political and economic consequences for Indonesia. Saudi Arabia and Indonesia strike numerous deals following King Salman’s visit to the latter, though Indonesia hopes for tens of billions of dollars more.
February 28th, 2017
Capital outflow limits and consumer sector investment liberalization measures affect both the volume and sectoral distribution of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into China. Chinese restrictions on capital outflows are affecting how sellers perceive Chinese investors. Members of the US Congress are looking to empower the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US to scrutinize Chinese investors more rigorously. The European Commission launches an investigation of planned Chinese high-speed railway project connecting Hungary and Serbia. Uncertainties surrounding Trump Administration policies are making Japanese firms, with the exception of auto firms, cautious about investing in the US. Suzuki Motor Corporation obtains incentives that will cause it to expand its investment in Pakistan. Lotte is explicitly warned by China not to meet the South Korean government’s demand for land for its THAAD system. South Korea’s SKC Ltd. and Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals- Mitsui Chemicals & SKC Polyurethanes Inc. (MCNS) will set up a facility in India to produce polyurethanes. Freeport-McMoRan threatens to sue the Indonesian government if they do not resolve their dispute over Freeport’s obligations. Indonesia solicits Saudi investment, especially in non-oil and non-gas sectors.
February 20th, 2017
American business community becomes more favorable towards “reciprocity” policy towards China. Hejun Vanguard Group files complaint against sale of McDonald’s China and Hong Kong assets. Chinese firms’ pursuit of investment in critical sectors leads Germany, France, and Italy to ask European Union (EU) to give it more powers to investigate and block investments. The United States (US) Federal Trade Commission asks Syngenta for more information regarding its proposed acquisition by China’s ChemChina. In the face of potential restrictions on Chinese firm investments in non-core businesses, Dalian Wanda eyes European bank deals. Japanese companies face investigation by South Korea’s transport ministry which has begun to investigate more firms in the wake of the Volkswagen emission manipulation scandal. Toshiba will remove itself from work on the UK’s new Moorside nuclear plant. South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) has started its first wind power plant in Jordan. Korean outward foreign direct investment (FDI) grows significantly in 2016 with a large increase in money flowing to the US. Indonesian loosening of ban on raw mineral ore exports has many implications. Indonesian regional elections have big implications for Indonesia’s inward FDI (FDI)