MNCs in the News*
February 22nd, 2020
China’s Ministry of Commerce reports that inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in January reflected a small increase over the same period last year, with South Korea’s inward FDI (IFDI) surging and IFDI in medical equipment and instrumentation showing strong increases. Foreign businesses seem attracted by the Greater Bay Area’s promise of market opportunities and ongoing market liberalization, though policy, legal, and regulatory barriers still deter/concern some. The coronavirus’s adverse effect on the movement of goods within and outside China has affected some Belt and Road Initiative projects. Chinese contractors in Indonesia reject foreign media reports coronavirus has had a significant adverse impact on the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project. Japan issues new rules relating to FDI screening in the wake of the passage of its Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. Japan’s Shimizu and Indonesian state-owned enterprise form joint venture to extend Jakarta’s mass transit system. Korea’s LG Chem wins default judgement from United States (US) International Trade Commission regarding its lawsuit against SK Innovation for violating its electric vehicle rechargeable battery trade secrets. Korea’s Samsung faces Iranian retaliation for restricting Galaxy stores app services to Iranian users.
February 16th, 2020
JPMorgan (China) intends to assume full ownership of all its mainland China operations by 2021 to take advantage of China’s financial sector opening. Chinese regulators approve United States (US) credit card firm Mastercard Inc.’s application to establish a bankcard clearing house joint venture. Peter Navarro urges the US to reduce its reliance on Chinese pharmaceutical and medical supplies. New US regulations expanding the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) with respect to the review of foreign direct investment (FDI) have gone into effect, with notable implications for Chinese FDI in the US. Coronavirus impact on supply chains and production in China accelerates move already occurring because of US-China trade war and rising labor costs in China. Japan is excluded from list of countries exempted from new CFIUS review ambit, but this may change. Merger of Korean shipbuilding giants potentially affected by Japanese filing of World Trade Organization petition, charging illegal subsidies. Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction wins mega-deal to build a beltway in Kazakhstan.
February 10th, 2020
China’s Ministry of Commerce pushes Chinese Chambers of Commerce to provide force majeure certificates to Chinese firms struggling to meet their contractual obligations due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Wuhan Institute of Virology move to apply for a patent to use United States (US) firm Gilead’s remdesivir to treat pneumonia like symptoms raises intellectual property issues. Huawei’s Chief Representative to European Union (EU) institutions says the firm will build 5G manufacturing bases in Europe. US Attorney General Bill Barr advocates US and its allies taking controlling stakes in Nokia, Ericsson, or both to fend off Huawei 5G challenge. Japan’s Ministry of Defense reveals two new Japanese defense-related companies that suffered cyberattacks, without stating if classified information was leaked. Japanese company plans to cope with Brexit subject to change depending upon trade negotiations between the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU. Japan files petition with the World Trade Organization to challenge planned merger between Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Panama re-awards Metro Line 3 to Korean consortium, rejecting challenges from Chinese firms and a consortium with a Chinese company.
February 1st, 2020
The coronavirus is affecting the operations of numerous multinational corporations (MNCs) in China, though many remain hopeful about the longer-term and are not overreacting. The former Chairman of China’s Sinopec opined that Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in sensitive areas and big deals would be avoided due to the contemporary political environment. Chinese firms win railway tenders in Namibia, where they already have a noteworthy presence. Japanese Diet bill proposes requiring major technology firms, foreign and domestic, to report annually to Japanese authorities on practices like data collection and also to establish complaint procedures. Due to the coronavirus, Toyota Motors suspends operations in China pending further review. South Korea seeks to create a better environment for domestic and foreign startups to promote growth. South Korean FDI in the US hits USD $10 billion for the fourth consecutive as relatively higher growth rates and lower taxes prove attractive.
January 20th, 2020
China’s tax system has been improving and there are hopes this will boost inward foreign direct investment (FDI). Goldman Sachs contemplates major expansion of employees in mainland China if China’s financial sector opening continues and it can take full ownership of its securities joint venture (JV). JPMorgan moves to increase its ownership of its fund management business in China because of China’s financial sector opening and the attractive opportunities present in the sector. United States (US) pressures on the United Kingdom (UK) to shun Huawei’s presence in its 5G telecommunications system lead UK Prime Minister to query what are the alternatives. Lawsuit by various US states threatens to upend merger of Sprint, in which Japan’s Softbank has a huge stake, and T-Mobile. Softbank proposes huge investment in Indonesia’s planned move of its capital from Jakarta. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission action forces Netflix to revise some clauses in its customer agreements. Korea’s Samsung acquires TeleWorld Solutions, a US-based telecom firm, which may open 5G opportunities in the US.
January 13th, 2020
China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) makes it yet easier for foreign banks to set up and expand in China. China’s Ministry of Resources moves to lubricate the way for greater foreign direct investment (FDI) in energy exploration and extraction in China. Chinese outward FDI in North America and Europe plummeted in 2019 for multiple reasons. China ranked as Cambodia’s largest source of FDI in 2019. Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) is preparing a guidebook on the registration process for investment management, investment advisory, and related businesses to boost Tokyo’s status as a financial capital. Iranian action against United States (US) troops in Iraq led various Japan companies to send staff out of Iran and limit travel to Iran and/or Iraq. Korea’s inward FDI in 2019 dropped notably versus the highs of 2018, though the second half of 2019 was relatively promising versus the 1st half. Korean construction firms have gone on high alert due to the tensions in the Middle East and the Korean government is mobilized to help such businesses.
December 16th, 2019
UIBE Institute of International Economy 2019 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) report recommends China do more to enhance the business environment for FDI such as allowing the market to play a greater role in the allocation of resources. Chinese government orders all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer hardware and software by 2022. United States (US) National Defense Authorization Act bans use of federal funds to purchase buses and passenger cars made by Chinese manufacturers, which will hurt BYD’s US operations. Pakistan established new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) authority to expedite the progress of the initiative. Labor Union at Uber Eats Tokyo cannot stomach the latter’s unilateral decision to lower the base pay of workers. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission suggests too early for Asahi Group to toast its plan to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev’s local Australia operations. South Korea’s reported inward FDI (IFDI) tops USD $20 billion for the fifth consecutive year, though realized IFDI often falls far short of reported figures. Korean consortium HPH Joint Venture may lose multi-billion bid to build metro in Panama due to reported Chinese pressures for a review of the bid award.
December 10th, 2019
Per Chinese media, the Chinese government is on the verge of promulgating its “unreliable entities” list which will identify foreign companies that may be subject to sanctions. Beijing municipality moves to open its service sector to a wide variety of firms, though limitations will remain in some areas. Pledged foreign direct investment (FDI) from China into Vietnam surges to record levels over first 11 months of 2019. Online survey suggests that individuals in major Latin American countries have a generally positive view of Chinese FDI, though Japanese and German firms rank higher. Japan’s Internal Affairs Ministry proposes public-private team involving foreign and domestic players to develop mechanisms to fight fake news. Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) survey finds Japanese companies overseas increasingly pessimistic about effect of global events on their revenues. United States (US) chip firm Qualcomm fails to win overturning of record anti-monopoly fine by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC and will take its case to Korean Supreme Court. SK Innovation, spurred by changing Chinese government policies regarding electric vehicle (EV) batteries, increasing EV manufacturing presence in China.
November 26th, 2019
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issues new negative list for market access. Despite trade war with United States (US) and slowing economic growth, China witnesses solid inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows for 1st 10th months of 2019. FDI in China’s insurance sector shows notable developments in 2019. All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese encourages overseas Chinese businesspeople to get involvement in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Japan’s Diet passes new investment law that tighten review criteria for inward FDI. Japanese firms may not see worse repercussions from Japan-South Korea political frictions. South Korea Fair Trade Commission (FTC) to create special task force to examine potential unfair business practices by domestic and foreign technology companies. Korea will leverage Korea-ASEAN 2019 Smart City Fair to promote Korean business involvement in smart city development.
November 17th, 2019
According to a German Chamber of Commerce survey, a large percentage of German companies plan on boosting their foreign direct investment (FDI) in China over the next two years. The United States (US)–China trade war and rising costs in China unlikely to led to exodus of FDI outside China because no country possesses the entire package of advantages China does. China MOFCOM reports that China’s non-financial outward FDI (OFDI) grew almost 6 percent over the first 10 months of 2019 year-over-year. US National Defense Authorization Act language may terminate the availability of federal funds to buy electric buses made by BYD at its California factory. South Korean airlines are closing offices in Japan as well as suspending or reducing flights to Japan because of falling tourism resulting from Korea-Japan tensions. Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh calls on the latter to provide economic incentives and improve policy stability. LG Chem asks the US International Trade Commission to rule quickly on its trade secrets theft case against SK Innovation. Hyundai Heavy Industries submits formal request to European Union (EU) asking for approval of its planned merger Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering