MNCs in the News*
March 18th, 2019
China’s National People’s Congress approves new foreign investment law obliging officials to protect commercially confidential information obtained from foreign companies. European Union (EU) releases policy paper in which the EU threatens to tighten rules on Chinese investment in Europe, partly in response to Chinese restrictions on EU investment in China. Top United States (US) general Joseph Dunford expresses concern that Google’s work in China directly benefits Chinese military. In response to increasing global criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing calls for American and European firms to join President Xi Jinping’s signature initiative. Toyota Motor now plans to invest $3 billion more than originally planned in the US to avoid increased tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will cease production of two more models at its Sunderland plant due to uncertainties flowing from Brexit. Lotte Group will leave China after failing to recover from the boycotts caused by Beijing’s diplomatic bickering with Seoul over the latter’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. Seoul and Tokyo fail to resolve their frictions flowing from the legal dispute over wartime labor compensation, with Tokyo warning of economic retaliation if Seoul goes ahead with the seizures of Japanese company assets.
March 10th, 2019
China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to consider new draft law on foreign direct investment (FDI) that seeks to provide stronger legal guarantees to overseas investors. About 1/3rd of North American-based corporations on the CNBC Global CFO Council say Chinese companies have stolen their intellectual property (IP) at some point in the past ten years. Mirroring global trends, Chinese FDI in Europe fell drastically in 2018 and a recent survey suggests the European Union (EU)’s new investment screening framework likely will curb Chinese EU mergers and acquisitions even more. Italian economic development ministry official announces Italy is planning to join China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Faced with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s refusal to negotiate, South Korean plaintiffs who won a wartime forced labor case against the company file court request to seize the company’s assets. Toyota Motor Corp. announced last week it may pull out of production in Britain due to the likely increase of tariffs in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Hyundai Motor is considering suspending operations at its Beijing manufacturing plant partly due to plummeting sales and partly due to budding opportunities elsewhere. South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance reports Korea’s OFDI reached a record high in 2018 partly due to Korean companies going abroad to enjoy a better manufacturing environment.
March 4th, 2019
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announces China will keep improving the legal and market environments for foreign investors. United States (US) President Donald Trump recently announced the US has made substantial progress in talks with Beijing on improving its IP protection. American Chamber of Commerce in China survey indicates some positive views about China’s progress in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR), though concerns about profitability and the future are rising. Following the European Parliament’s approval of a mechanism to control foreign investment in strategic sectors, Chinese official calls upon the EU to adopt an open and inclusive attitude towards foreign companies. Per JETRO survey, Japanese parts suppliers in China hit worse by US-China trade frictions than other Japanese firms there. British business secretary will travel to Japan to ask Honda Motors to reconsider its recent decision to shut down Swindon car plant. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company awards South Korea Engineering and Construction contract for USD $1.2 billion underground oil project. South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service will tighten monitoring of foreign firms’ unfair trading practices.
February 27th, 2019
Shanghai municipal government investment measures appear to have enabled the city to maintain strong foreign investment growth despite a challenging environment. BIStel says it will expand its investment in China despite the China-United States trade war because China is its biggest target market. Saudi Arabia’s Aramco signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for investment in major refining and petrochemical investments in Liaoning that may substantially boost energy exports to China. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), Chinese non-financial outbound FDI in 47 countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increased 8.1 percent year-over-year. Despite uncertainties over Brexit, Chinese companies remain interested in investing in the United Kingdom. Tokyo considers backing Russia’s Novatek’s Arctic liquefied natural gas project in the hopes of bolstering Japan’s negotiating position in territorial talks with Moscow. An increasing number of Japanese automakers are leaving or reconsidering their position in the UK as Brexit fast approaches. Seoul expects the second US-North Korea summit to facilitate inter-Korean investment projects including a Korea peninsula rail link. India and South Korea agreed to enhance cooperation in diverse economic areas, including many pertaining to investment.
February 22nd, 2019
Per China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in January increased 4.8 percent versus the prior period in 2018. Despite United States (US)-China trade dispute, in January, China’s IFDI from the US increased 126.8 percent compared to the same period in 2018. European Parliament revamps European Union (EU) investment screening mechanism to give European Commission power to review deals, though ultimate decision making remains with EU states. U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission highlights personal and national security risks from Chinese investors taking stakes in American biotech companies. Israel will create an interagency body to oversee sensitive commercial deals partly to ensure foreign investments, above all by China, do not damage its ties with the US. Japanese and South Korean businesses fret about the impact of heightened tensions between the two governments relating to history and recent naval encounters. Per reports, following Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s visit to Tokyo last year, major Japanese companies invested hundreds of millions in Malaysia. Russia will take more steps to support Koreans firms doing business in Russia’s Far East. South Korea and Austria move to expand cooperation as Austria seeks Korean help to become a 5G leader in Europe.
February 3rd, 2019
A German Chamber of Commerce in China (AHK) survey makes clear German companies are concerned by China’s slow progress in resolving persistent problems facing foreign direct investment (FDI). European Commission considering taking action to prevent EU businesses from using 5G mobile networks provided by any country or company suspected of using its equipment for spying or sabotage. In 2018, Chinese firms were the biggest buyers of overseas mining assets, especially minerals needed for clean energy technologies and electric car batteries. French President Emmanuel Macron tells Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he is worried about Carlos Ghosn’s jail conditions and suggests Tokyo intervene in the selection of Nissan’s new chairman. Japanese lawmakers call for Japanese government to take a stronger stance against South Korea on historical disputes pertaining to Japanese companies. Seoul will focus on attracting foreign companies with high-end technologies by offering better incentives and fewer regulations. Rising trade barriers and a poor local economic situation are pushing an increasing number of Korean manufacturers abroad.
January 28th, 2019
Sinochem’s chairman predicts Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) abroad will decrease due to trade tensions with the United States (US) and China’s domestic economic slowdown. Former China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) chairman says China should make sure that its investment and financing projects meet international standards to quieten overseas criticism of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The chairman of DP World warns other countries to be careful of China because of the latter’s predatory practices. Former People’s Bank of China official opines restrictions imposed by Western governments on Huawei could lead to it significantly reduce investments in Silicon Valley. Japanese firms cautious about boosting investment given China-US trade war and uncertainty about the global economy. Sony to move its European headquarters from the United Kingdom (UK) to the Netherlands to avoid disruptions that might result from “Brexit.” South Korea will offer support for overseas construction and plant orders to offset weakening exports caused by the global trade disputes and China’s economic slowdown. South Korea’s major business associations and the Presidential Committee on New Southern Policy form alliance to help Korean entrepreneurs seek better opportunities in the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) market.
January 22nd, 2019
China Ministry of Commerce report shows anemic increase in inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in 2018 year-over-year (YOY), though strong growth in manufacturing inward FDI (IFDI) in 2018 YOY. Foreign automaker optimism about the China market increases due to the calming of the United States (US)-China trade war. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s 2019 global M&A outlook report predicts Chinese companies will continue to look for overseas mergers and acquisitions (M&As), partly because of readily-available capital. Paitron Services and the China Overseas Development Association report Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) now riskier because of growing tensions with the US and threats posed by terrorist groups. During a recent visit to Israel, US Deputy Secretary warned Jerusalem bilateral intelligence sharing could be at risk if the latter did not implement tougher screening of Chinese investments. Hitachi Ltd. board decision to suspend plans to build two nuclear reactors in the United Kingdom (UK) flow from financial issues not the political turmoil flowing from Brexit. South Korea will pursue closer ties with United Arab Emirates in the energy sector. Seoul High Court upholds ruling ordering Japanese machinery maker Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp. to pay compensation to Korean forced laborers.
January 16th, 2019
During a meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated his country welcomes investments from foreign firms and is open to deepening cooperation with them. An official from the Beijing Central Business District (CBD), which is undertaking steps to attract higher quality firms, touts foreign direct investment (FDI)’s contribution to CBD. Chinese merger & acquisition (M&A) activity in the US in 2018 plummets. Rising Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) scrutiny of foreign attempts to purchase minority stakes in American companies has fueled a major drop in Chinese venture funding of United States (US) start-ups. Chinese FDI pours into Latin America as US presence wanes and Latin American technology firms thirst for funding. South Korea President Moon Jae-in accuses Tokyo of politicizing recent court decisions over wartime labor. Meeting with his British counterpart, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo urges the United Kingdom (UK) to avoid a no-deal Brexit. During his New Year Press conference last week, South Korean President Moon reiterated his support for economic cooperation between the two Koreas and called for a lifting of economic sanctions. State-run Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) moves to liquidate overseas resources development projects that generated huge losses for the firm in 2017.
January 8th, 2019
Foreign companies remain cautious about increasing their foreign direct investment (FDI) in China because of the risk of trade war escalation. Multinational corporations (MNCs) in China worry not only about trade war’s impact on sales, but pressures to relocate their factories. China’s National People’s Congress reviews draft law than seems to more aggressively protect foreign investor interests than a previous version. Survey reveals US businesses finding trade war leading them to face increased Chinese non-tariff barriers. China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the Chinese Academy of Social Science have produced a report that central State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are delivering equal employment benefits to Chinese and locals. Attorneys representing former South Korean forced laborers for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal file for the seizure of Nippon Steel assets in Korea. South Korean government will tighten rules on the acquisition of Korean companies by foreign firms to limit technology leaks. Seoul to designate OLED equipment and chemical sector as “national core technologies” to gain influence over their sale and export.