Hot Topics for MNCs, Cool Analysis*
June 2nd, 2021
According to China Ministry of Commerce statistics, China’s utilized foreign direct investment (FDI) over the 1st four months of 2021 showed impressive growth. In a recent report, the British Chamber of Commerce in China highlighted China’s data rules and data flow restrictions as new areas of concern on top of continuing issues like market access and the lack of a level playing field. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has given the United States (US)’s Goldman Sachs approval to enter into a wealth management joint venture (JV). In the wake of new data rules and various image problems, Tesla announced the construction of a new data center in Shanghai to store information on gathered on local users and their vehicles. China’s initiation of economic sanctions against various European Union (EU) officials in response to EU sanctions against China has raised questions about whether or not the ratification process for the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment will move forward. China’s Landbridge rejected concerns that its 99-year lease of Australia’s Darwin port presents any kind of a national security threat. A Japanese Liberal Democratic Party group investigating methods to enhance Japan’s economic security has proposed the creation of a public-private body to develop solutions for public policy issues like supply chain resiliency. An official Chinese media piece warned various prominent Japanese apparel companies’ decisions to stop using Xinjiang cotton might cause them to lose business in China. Japanese export restrictions against South Korea are driving Japanese semiconductor material companies to increase their activities and in South Korea as a way to circumvent Tokyo’s economic sanctions. During Korean President Moon Jae-in’s summit with US President Joseph Biden, Korean companies proposed massive investments in manufacturing plants
May 15th, 2021
Tesla’s road in China becomes bumpier. China’s China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) accepts application from France’s BNP Paribas to set up securities firm in China. China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in and lending to Africa switch from a focus on energy to minerals which also has implications for the countries that it targets. China’s Ministry of Commerce reports that non-financial outward FDI (OFDI) in the first quarter of 2021 grew 4.6 percent over the same period in 2020, with solid growth in OFDI to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries. Japan’s Line works to improve disclosures and employee data handling practices in the wake of revelations employees at an affiliate in China accessed some of its users’ data. Major investment by Tencent subsidiary in Japan’s Rakuten draws regulatory attention due to concerns about the leak of personal information and technology from the latter to the former. Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) imposes fine on Apple Korea due to Apple Korea actions that disrupted a KFTC investigation of Apple Korea’s abuse of its market dominance. Korean actors move to organize lawsuit against Facebook which has been found by Korean regulators to have violated Korean law by sharing user data without consent. Korea’s Samsung and Hyundai Motor reportedly prepare big proposals for FDI in the US prior to upcoming summit between Korean President Moon and US President Biden. SK Innovation pays $1.8 billion to LG Energy Solutions to settle a dispute between the two firms relating to the former’s theft of electric battery trade secrets from the latter.
April 2nd, 2021
China Ministry of Commerce spokesperson says China’s new foreign investment security review will not impose unnecessary burden on normal foreign businesses. China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman says China will press forward on efforts to combat the extraterritorial application of foreign sanctions. China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission gives foreign investors the right to acquire a 51+ percent stake in Chinese insurance companies. China’s economic sanctions against members of European Parliament threaten to disrupt the ratification process of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Sweden’s H&M faces backlash because of its stance of working with factories in or products from Xinjiang. Chinese executives in state-owned enterprises in Myanmar say turmoil in the country has not affected Belt and Road Initiative projects. Brexit has adversely affected Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United Kingdom. The head of SBI Holdings says he will move the firm’s brokerage out of Hong Kong due to the evolving political situation. Line takes steps to limit the access of Chinese affiliates and contractors to Japanese data and shift data from Korea to Japan. Japan’s Fast Retailing suffers disruptions due to fires set at two of its Myanmar suppliers in wake of military coup. Korea advances industrial cluster scheme to increase its local production capabilities in the wake of tensions with Japan and Covid-19 related disruptions. In response to complaints, Google Korea will lower in-app purchase commission for smaller app developers. South Korean companies partnering with Chinese internet platform and fintech firms worry that Beijing’s increasing regulation of the latter may adversely affect their joint ventures. The governor of Georgia asks US President Biden to overturn a United States International Trade Commission ruling that threatens a SK Innovation factory in Georgia.
February 2nd, 2021
China receives the largest amount of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020. China’s 2020 revised catalog of encouraged FDI takes effect increasing the number of encouraged sectors. China issues rules to counteract foreign extraterritorial sanctions affecting its nationals and companies. Renewable energy investments dominate China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) energy infrastructure investments in 2020, though coal remains prominent. India makes ban on dozens of Chinese mobile phone apps permanent due to national security and data privacy concerns. China asks India to clarify its permanent ban against Chinese mobile apps. Japan creates English-language, one stop shop to help foreign financial firms set up operations in Japan. United States (US) sanctions against Huawei and limits on Huawei’s involvement in foreign telecommunications infrastructure projects led Japan’s Sumitomo to turn elsewhere for business. Brexit deal between United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) will keep Nissan producing electric vehicles in the UK. Japan unconvinced Korean President Moon Jae-In’s labeling of a 2018 Supreme Court decision on corporate assets as “undesirable” will solve anything. The head of GM Korea emphasizes labor issues as one of the factors that reduce South Korea’s appeal as a destination for FDI. SK Innovation to invest $895 million into a battery plant in Georgia, a move some feel is about winning a case before the US International Trade Commission. Daewoo Engineering & Construction wins major port facility contracting deal in Iraq. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power gets contract for major dams in Pakistan.
January 5th, 2021
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) release revised 2020 catalog of encouraged industries for foreign direct investment (FDI). China’s NDRC issues rules relating to FDI national security reviews. China’s Standing Committee of National People’s Congress considering amendment to criminal law that would increase prison terms for intellectual property rights (IPR) crimes. Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) in Latin America in 2020 a bright spot versus Chinese OFDI (COFDI) in other regions like Europe. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses at news briefing that FDI in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC has not declined with many projects showing good results despite Covid-19. United States (US) Congress to provide billions of dollars to fund removal of ZTE and Huawei equipment from US telecommunication carriers’ systems. Japan not succeeding in attracting foreign financial firms due to tax, red tape, language barriers, and other factors. Japan 5G players gain potential new openings due to global crackdown on Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE. United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) post-Brexit deal may not prevent Japanese carmakers from leaving the UK. Japanese group to supply $1.8 billion for coal-fired power plant in Vietnam despite complaints about the environmental impact of the plant. Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) will administer a survey to Google Play Store users to accelerate its review of Google’s plan to increase application transactions to 30 percent. Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings receives Chinese government approval for its $1.8 billion acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. Korea electric vehicle (EV) battery makers move to diversify away from China, turning to other countries and local firms for raw materials and components. LG Group has signed a major investment deal with Indonesia that would facilitate its access to EV battery raw materials and product.
December 3rd, 2020
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China continues to surge despite Covid-19 and other challenges. China’s Ministry of Commerce says China will take further measures to liberalize ownership restrictions for foreign firms in the service sector. Shanghai shows strength in attracting inward FDI (IFDI) and adds to its regional headquarters and research and development center totals. India moves to ban an additional 43 Chinese phone apps including Aliexpress due to concerns about consumer privacy and national security. China states it will continue to support the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Malaysian state government of Melaka terminates $10.5 billion Melaka Gateway project. Nissan moves to sell only electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid cars in China to meet Beijing’s goal of all new vehicles being eco-friendly. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is expected to have notable impacts on Japanese FDI as well as supply chains given its provisions relating to tariffs, rules of origins, and intellectual property. Brexit may lead the European Union (EU) to slap tariffs and other requirements on EVs which have significant adverse effects on Japanese EV production in the United Kingdom. Tokyo Gas and Marubeni will construct a liquefied natural gas fired power plant in Vietnam. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission reportedly has come to the conclusion that Google abused its market position to prevent modified Android operating systems. The labor union at IKEA Korea strikes for similar wage treatment to workers at IKEA workers elsewhere. Some Korean steelmakers return back home due to government subsidy program. Korean consortium wins engineering, construction, and operations contract for $1 billion bridge project in Bangladesh.
November 3rd, 2020
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) says that inward foreign direct investment (FDI) increased 5.2 percent for the first nine months of 2020 when compared to the same period the prior year. China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee approves revised export control law. Germany says reciprocity needed if there is to be a European Union-China investment agreement and notes barriers facing European companies in China remain too high. State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council points out Central State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) contribution to China and the realization of is 13rd Five-Year Plan. Sweden bans Huawei and ZTE from its core 5G mobile networks. Italy prevents Fastweb, the Italian unit of Swisscom, from using Huawei equipment in its core network. Japan will not participate in US initiative to block Chinese companies from participating in its telecommunications systems. Japan’s NEC Corp. will support United Kingdom government in its effort to develop a next generation 5G wireless network. Consortium led by Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. will develop massive $4.29 billion smart-city project in Hanoi. Mitsubishi Motors will work with Thailand agency to develop system that would allow electric vehicle batteries to power homes. Korean Fair Trade Commission to set up plan to investigate Google for potential abuses of its mobile operating system. Seoul to require Korea Resources Corp. to sell off certain assets to improve its financial condition. Samsung Fire & Marine and Samsung Life face criticisms for support of coal projects and investments through project financing, bonds, and insurance underwriting. Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction signs $2.2 billion contract with Vietnam’s VAPCO for massive coal power plant.
October 3rd, 2020
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issues rules relating to China’s long-discussed “unreliable entities” list. MOFCOM tells foreign companies not to worry about unreliable entities list as it is not targeted at any specific country or company. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation is preparing to launch an antitrust investigation into Google relating to Google’s alleged abuse of the Android mobile operating system’s dominant position. MOFCOM, China’s National Bureau of Statistics, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange issue report showing Chinese outward foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 4.3 percent year-over-year in 2019. Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) in the United States (US) plummets to record lows because of Covid-19 and US-China political frictions. Indian Minister says there will be no blanket ban on all Chinese mobile apps, nor will Chinese companies be excluded from 5G contracts for wireless equipment. The tightening of US restrictions on the export of semiconductors will have potent adverse effects on Japanese companies. Frictions relating to the fees Apple takes in conjunction with its App stores have sparked regulatory attention in Japan. Covid-19 and the resignation of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo are hindering the expansion of Japanese OFDI in Africa. Hitachi may terminate its multi-billion-dollar project in the United Kingdom (UK) to build two nuclear reactors because of a failure to obtain UK government support to cover rising project costs. Korean semiconductor firms will suffer big loss of business due to new US restrictions on the export of semiconductors to Huawei. Korea Fair Trade Commission apparently sends signal to Google that it is being watched for its app store fee collection practices. Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction led consortium wins $573 million railway project in the Philippines.
September 5th, 2020
On October 1, China will establish a new compliant mechanism that, among other things, will allow foreign business associations to raise concerns about the investment environment. China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has given permission for a second foreign asset management joint venture (JV), involving BlackRock and Temasek. Looking to exploit China’s financial sector opening, JPMorgan will spend a huge amount of money to take full control of its China mutual fund JV. Foreign pharmaceutical companies fail to win public hospital bulk medicine purchase contracts in China due to an apparent unwillingness to cut prices to near zero. China based firms such as Foxconn reportedly looking at expanding their presence outside China in countries such as Mexico due to troubled political economic environment. Sino-Indian tensions drive Alibaba to suspend plans for new investments in India. US backlists 24 Chinese firms because of their role in the building of South China Sea artificial islands. Chinese outward foreign direct investment (FDI) in Belt and Road countries jumps nearly 29 percent for the first seven months of 2020 year-over-year. Japan will move to improve administrative procedures, such as allowing English paperwork, to draw in more FDI and improve Japan’s prominence as a financial center. Japan is considering tax and other measures to enhance Japan’s role as an international financial center. A Japanese ruling party official raises concerns about TikTok with respect to data privacy and national security. Japan, Australia, and India are discussing a supply chain resilience initiative. South Korean regulators are watching what the US, Japan, and India do vis-à-vis TikTok before they decide how to address relevant data privacy and national security concerns. India’s exclusion of Chinese telecommunications players like Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network may create openings for Korean players.
August 1st, 2020
Chinese President Xi Jining courts foreign direct investment (FDI) in encouraging letter to the Global CEO Council. China plans to impose sanctions on United States (US) company Lockheed Martin because of the latter’s weapons sales to Taiwan. China’s new, strict cybersecurity laws and regulations have driven Morgan Stanley, a US investment banking firm, to block its interns in China from remotely accessing its virtual network. The recent border clash with China has increased the pressure on New Delhi to reduce the country’s dependence on Chinese solar goods. Various special interest groups have called for the US to sanction China’s CRRC after the US Pentagon labeled it as backed by the Chinese military, saying it represents a security threat. Despite calls for a boycott in the wake of India’s border clash with China, many are skeptical Chinese smartphones can be displaced from the India market. Japanese and British trade negotiators agree they will not require encryption keys or the localization of data. Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group faces growing shareholder pressure to stop financing coal projects. Japan helps Japanese companies move to Vietnam and also helps them shift production lines to Japan as well as various Southeast Asian countries. Myanmar gives three Japanese firms permission to build a mega-liquified natural gas power plant. Korea to spend billions to promote an innovation-based economy. European Union to restart review of the merger of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings. Incheon Port Authority joins the United Nations Global Compact. The backlash against Huawei creates some openings for Samsung, though it is unclear if the Korean firm can exploit them.