MNCs in the News-2017-06-23

China’s State Council recently announced its newest “Negative List” for foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into its eleven provincial- and city-level free-trade zones (FTZs) contained 27 fewer restrictions pertaining to issues such as joint venture (JV) requirements or ownership percentage. Areas having changes include like precious metals and lithium mining, internet access services, credit rating services, theme part construction, and rail transport restrictions. Other areas have been liberalized in the past with the government not having provided timelines or specifics (Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo, “China Removes 27 Restrictions for Foreign Investment in Free-Trade Zones,” Reuters, June 16, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-trade-ftz-idUSKBN1970Q8)

According to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), China’s non-financial outward FDI (OFDI) for May dropped 38.8 percent year-over-year (YOY) and plunged 53 percent over the first five months of 2017 YOY. For the first five months of the year, MOFCOM data indicated Chinese companies invested in over 3,121 overseas firms. Key investment areas included commercial services, manufacturing, information transmission, and software and info tech. MOFCOM noted OFDI in One Belt, One Road initiative countries was 14.4 percent of the total for the first five months of the year (“China’s ODI Down 38.8% in May,” China Daily, June 17, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-06/17/content_29782057.htm)

Chinese legal experts reportedly are calling on “new mechanisms to resolve disputes related to outbound investments of Chinese companies.” According to one partner at Global Law Office, new mechanisms are needed because dispute settlement entities like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes are “almost entirely in the hands of Western countries” and supposedly will “affect the implementation” of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Moreover, given the nature of the BRI and the fact many BRI projects are about infrastructure, disputes are highly likely (Meng Fabin, “Time to Level the M&A Field,” China Daily, June 19, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-06/19/content_29792435.htm)

China’s Huadian Corporation, a state-owned enterprise (SOE), announced at a ceremony in Yaroslavl, Russia that a USD $571 million 483-MW gas-steam combined heat and power plant that it had built in cooperation with TGC-2, Russia’s second largest regional power company, had come online. The project will help to solve the region’s power shortages. China Huadian plans to expand its activities in global energy markets. At the ceremony, a Russia official stated that Russia would “create more favorable conditions to facilitate energy cooperation between” it and China (“China’s Largest Power Project in Russia Put into Operation,” Xinhuanet.com, June 21, 2017, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-06/21/c_136381538.htm)

Japan

A white paper released by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China found that the decline of political tensions in recent years has boosted business confidence, stating that over 40 percent of the Japanese investors are “willing to expand their business” in China. It is the first time since 2011 that Japanese firms are willing to invest more. However, the paper also called for fair treatment, more transparent procedures, and market access (Liu Zhen, “Japanese firms now more willing to invest in China, after years of decline over political tensions,” South China Morning Post, June 22, 2017, http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2099417/japanes...)

According to a survey conducted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, at least 50 Japanese corporations that have already invested in Thailand stated they “will definitely expand their investment further,” especially in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). The Thai government considers the ECC as Thailand’s new growth engine, as it was designed to attract new foreign investment in targeted industries “to pursue added value” and to “push the economy” towards the Thailand 4.0 era. Bangkok aims to attract 30 leading MNCs within the next two years (Lamonphet Apisitniran, “Japan firms keen to invest more,” Bangkok Post, June 22, 2017, http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1273207/japan-firms-keen-to-inv...)

Korea

Samsung Electronics Co. is about to finalize talks on a USD $300 million investment to expand its US production facilities at a factory “soon to be vacated” by Caterpillar Inc. The facilities are designed to transfer some productions that currently takes place in Mexico and is expected to generate around 500 jobs. Samsung’s interest in a US factory “was influenced by” the election of Donald Trump, who vowed to “bring more manufacturing jobs back” to the US (Timothy W. Martin, “Samsung in Late-Stage Talks to Open South Carolina Factory,” Fox Business, June 22, 2017, http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/06/22/samsung-in-late-stage-tal...)

Indonesia

In a move to attract more foreign investment, Indonesian cabinet ministers announced that Jakarta will ease ownership rules in sectors that until now were “partially or fully closed” to foreigners, including airport operation services. Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi stated that “The president really wants investment to increase.” However, despite last year’s amendment of the country’s “negative investment list” that “specifies caps and restrictions,” foreign direct investment in the country remains “sluggish” (Jakarta bureau, Gayatri Suroyo & Richard Borsuk, “UPDATE 1-Indonesia promises more easing of rules to attract foreign investors,” Reuters, June 20, 2017, http://in.reuters.com/article/indonesia-investment-regulation-idINL3N1JH3H5)

The National Gas Company (PGN) plans to make Batam Indonesia a center of natural gas supplies and hopes the region will become a “paradise” for energy investors. Batam’s high potential of gas reserves and its strategic location for international trade have attracted the interest of both local and foreign investors. The local government has turned to international investors to improve its local economy through developing commercial, industrial and electricity sectors. These investments will also contribute to enhancing Indonesia’s national energy resilience and independence (Oliviana Handayani, “Batam Set To Be ‘Paradise’ For Foreign Energy Investors,” Indonesia Expat, June 22, 2017, http://indonesiaexpat.biz/business-property/pgn-targets-batam-centre-gas...)

Malaysia

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MEDC) welcomes Japanese ICT companies to use Malaysia as a stepping-stone for entering the Southeast Asian market. MDEC’s chief executive officer said investment in the Multimedia Super Corridor was particularly urged. The officer added “Malaysia is a business-friendly country and always understands how important ICT business is” for its best interest, and that “We are very open-minded and understand many countries’ business cultures.” The MDEC currently cooperates with the Japan External Trade Organization to understand how Japanese firms work (“Japanese ICT firms urged to use Malaysia as stepping-stone to Asean,” Bangkok Post, June 22, 2017, http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asean/1273622/japanese-ict-firms-urged-t...)

Malaysia’s state-owned Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) will participate in the ongoing Swiss challenge bidding process of Indian railway stations’ redevelopment. Earlier, CDIB had sought to win the contracts through nomination route, however since India “does not allow” this method, the Board is required to participate in the auction. Various Japanese and South Korean companies also expressed their interests in the projects that marks the first “major foreign investment” in the operations side of Indian railways (Rajat Arora,“Malaysian firms eye Rs 5,000 crore station makeover kitty in 1st big FDI boost for Railways,” The Economic Times, June 20, 2017, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/railways/mal...)

Thailand

Jesus Alcocer and Pawee Sirimai, “Thai firms looking beyond backyard,” Bangkok Post, June 20, 2017, http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/finance/1272003/thai-firms-looking-b...

Sido Divakaruni, “Thailand hopes to attract investment,” Foreign Brief, June 22, 2017, http://www.foreignbrief.com/daily-news/thailand-hopes-attract-investment

Singapore

Ho Chee Hin, “Partnerships key as Singapore firms embark on Belt and Road,” Strait Times, June 20, 2017, http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/partnerships-key-as-spore-firms-emba...

Vietnam

Mai Nguyen, “Compelling Vietnam: Foreign investors unfazed by Trump's trade deal rebuff,” Reuters, June 21, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vietnam-investment-idUSKBN19C32X

“Will FDI in Vietnam retreat after FED raises the interest rate?” VietnamNet, June 22, 2017, http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/180495/will-fdi-in-vietnam-ret...

*The information compiled in the MNCs in the News digest is gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the Wong MNC Center does not guarantee their accuracy. The content of the MNCs in the News digest does not necessarily represent the view of the Wong MNC Center, its Board of Directors, or its Advisory Board, but is intended for the non-commercial use of readers in order to foster debate and discussion and to facilitate and stimulate research.