MNCs in the News*
January 16th, 2017
China’s inward foreign direct investment (FDI) increases moderately over 2015, with a major proportion going into the service sector. Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) soared in 2016, hitting new records, with Europe, above all, Germany a key destination. Jack Ma meets with US President-elect Trump and touts Alibaba’s potential to create one million jobs. Takata pleads guilty to one criminal charge and will pay USD $1 billion in fines in conjunction with falsifying test data about its faulty airbags. Honda will invest USD $372 million in an existing facility in Ontario, Canada. Japanese energy producer JX Nippon Oil & Gas and NRG Energy Inc. complete the world’s biggest carbon capture system in Texas. Apparently prodded by Trump’s protectionist rhetoric, Samsung Electronics will build its first home appliance plant in the US. Indonesia modifies it mineral export ban policy because of its challenging economic growth situation. Indonesia and Japan will discuss business and investment cooperation during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister and during post-visit meetings between Indonesia’s President and a large delegation of Japanese CEOs
January 9th, 2017
China forces Apple to withdraw New York Times apps from its China App store. During a visit to Korea, Chinese Foreign Ministry official warns Korean businesses of possible adverse consequences because of South Korea’s adoption of THAAD system. US government report may result in tighter restrictions on foreign involvement in US semiconductor sector with particular ramifications for Chinese investors. There are doubts Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US will be able to maintain the same volume in 2017 as in 2016. Sri Lanka will strike agreements with Chinese investors to advance the Hambantota Port project, but large local protests dampen the atmosphere. Donald Trump blasts Toyota’s plans to invest in Mexico and sell to the US, with Japanese officials defending the contribution of Japanese firms to the US. While growing slowly, inward FDI (IFDI) into South Korea hits new heights with European Union (EU) investors representing a big proportion of investing firms. Indonesia remains optimistic about its ability to attract IFDI despite the fracturing of its partnership with JP Morgan Chase. Thailand plans new measures and new focuses in its efforts to reach new IFDI targets for 2017.
January 1st, 2017
China plans to open various financial services sectors to foreign investors but details and timeframes remain unclear. Regulatory pressures inside and outside China may slow or reverse somewhat the pace of Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI). Conditions at home and abroad plus drags on Chinese OFDI may lead Japan to become a more prominent outward investor in 2017. Takata Corp. may settle the United States (US) Department of Justice criminal case against it. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission slaps USD $900 million fine on Qualcomm for abusing its market power. Deal by Malaysian state owned firm for a palm oil project in Indonesia raises political concerns within Malaysia as well as some environmental and labor concerns.
December 27th, 2016
American firms fret that Trump’s stances on China trade and Taiwan may lead China to retaliate against them. Chinese firm drops contract with Korean software and platform provider due to sensitivities about Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD system. Foreign decision makers strongly distrust Chinese state-owned enterprises where merger and acquisition deals are concerned. China retorts those critics arguing One Belt, One Road is a massive dumping scheme do not understand the idea of a double circulation economy. Japan is moving to force foreign pharmaceutical product prices to undergo annual reviews. Softbank pledges $1 billion investment in United States (US) as a partial fulfillment of a commitment made to US president-elect Trump. Russia, Japan, and many private companies strike new deals leading to cooperation possibilities in new areas. Japanese firms still intrigued by opportunities in the United Kingdom (UK) despite Brexit. The UK and Japan glow about a major nuclear cooperation agreement. The European Commission has fined Sony Corp., Panasonic Corp., and Sanyo Electric Co. regarding rechargeable lithium-ion battery price fixing. Investment in South Korea’s free economic zones is soaring but below prior highs. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. wins two orders including one from Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, the latter’s first post sanction order. Indonesia and Google fail to come to a settlement about Google’s alleged tax underpayments. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha orders mine operated by Australian gold miner Kingsgate subsidiary Akara Resources to shut down for health and environmental reasons. Vietnam’s inward FDI hits new low for the year.
December 13th, 2016
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) have reduced the number of sectors on its foreign investment catalog restricted and prohibited lists by more than 30 percent. China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) has denied there are restrictions on foreign firms' crossborder profit transfers. The NDRC has imposed a more than $17 million fine on Medtronic for violating China’s anti-monopoly laws. China’s national cybersecurity standards body, The Technical Committee 260, ignores foreign company pleas about its technical standards for operating systems, microprocessors, and office software. China’s concerns about capital flight and money laundering led it to strengthen its review of overseas deals exceeding USD $10 billion and in an overseas entity unrelated to the investor’s core business. China launches $22 billion fund to support overseas investments by Chinese companies. Chinese investment in Europe soars over 2015 totals. Softbank owner Masayoshi Son promises Donald Trump he will make a massive investment in the US. South Korea’s largest steel pipe producer buys two oil country tubular goods (OCTG) related facilitates in the US to escape possible US trade barriers. Indonesia’s Ambassador to Singapore encourages greater investment from Singapore, Indonesia’s largest foreign investor. Chinese investment in Indonesia soars, helping with infrastructure development, but raising some concerns. Chinese delegation from Zhejiang province to travel to Indonesia to assess the political risk environment in the country. Foreign companies in Thailand ask Prime Minister to update its laws pertaining to foreign workers. Official Thai delegation to China hopes to attract more investment, reinforce the relationship, and increase cooperation on China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak rejected the notion he was trading the country’s sovereignty for foreign investment. Vietnam’s FDI inflows reach record highs and Vietnam promises steps to attract more investment.
November 28th, 2016
China’s Ministry of Commerce notes that it will continue to welcome and support foreign direct investment (FDI) from the European Union (EU). Very senior Chinese Communist Party official meets with Microsoft CEO and calls for the company to share its technology with China. China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce imposes almost a $100 million fine on Sweden’s Tetra Pak for abuse of its market position. Qualcomm’s joint venture with the Guizhou provincial government will start to produce China-customized server chips in 2018. I order to enter China, Facebook reportedly is working on a tool that would empower the Chinese government to censor content. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) said it would recommend a Chinese investment consortium not be allowed to purchase Germany’s Aixtron. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said Washington should take action to ban China’s state-owned firms from acquiring U.S. companies. Japan’s Itochu Corporation and Electric Power Development Co. Ltd. will provide full support for the construction of a coal-fired Batang power plant in Central Java. Japan and Argentina work to boost Japanese investment in Argentina. New China Ministry of Industry and Information battery production standard will severely limit Korean battery sales in China. China takes adverse actions against Korean financial companies to, it is believed, punish Korea for its acceptance of the THAAD system. Despite uncertainties flowing from the US presidential election result, the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board still has faith in its investment realization targets. The Indonesia-Japanese investment relationship remains robust. Following on the heels of his efforts to court Chinese investors, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak is lobbying Japanese investors to put money in higher-value added activities in his country. Vietnam welcomes foreign investors to participate in the restructuring of the country’s banking sector. Vietnam pushes for investment in the food processing sector.
November 15th, 2016
China approves cyber security law despite intense lobbying by foreign business associations, firms, and governments. China reportedly is considering allowing foreign investment banks to have wholly owned operations on the mainland. China Development Bank Capital (CDBC) and Microsoft have formed a partnership to “promote technology innovation and smart city development.” Germany withdraws approval for a group of Chinese investors’ 670 million euro purchase of Aixtron. The German government is seeking greater powers to investigate and potentially block Chinese acquisitions of German companies. China has expressed concerns about Germany’s seeming new protectionist stance towards Chinese investment. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel speaks strongly about protecting German interests and gets the cold shoulder during a visit to China. High-level officials from the United Kingdom (UK) and Britain meet to discuss new investment collaborations in the financial sector. The Japanese government pushes Japanese firms to invest in Russia to help facilitate a resolution of the Russo-Japanese Northern Territories/Southern Kurils dispute. Japanese Trade minister Hiroshige Seko and Russian Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka agreed to promote economic development projects in Russia’s Far East ahead of a summit between their leaders in December. Japan’s JFE Engineering Corporation will start constructing greenhouses in Primorsky Krai in cooperation with a Russian federal state enterprise. The President of the Japanese chambers of commerce in Britain and the European CEO of Mitsubishi warns that more than general assurances about Brexit are needed to comfort Japanese firms in the UK. Korea and Oman establish basis for Korean companies to participate in almost $27.1 billion in energy and infrastructure projects in Oman. Korea Gas Corporation moving forward on cooperation with China National Petroleum Corporation on natural gas trading, joint international projects, and information sharing. Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indonesia has jumped following repeated high-level meetings between the Presidents of the two countries. Donald Trump’s victory dampens the opportunities for US energy companies in Indonesia. Jack Ma opts to serve as an advisor to Malaysia rather than Indonesia about the e-commerce economy. Chinese technology giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and Wanda Group have expressed their interests in participating in Malaysia’s digital economy plan. During his recent visit to China, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak signed 14 memorandum of understandings totaling USD $47.5 billion. Pundits note both future opportunities and risks relating to increase Chinese investments in Malaysia.
October 31st, 2016
Chinese outward foreign direct investment (FDI) exceeds inward FDI (IFDI) by an increasing amount in September and for the first nine months of 2016. Chinese companies embrace diverse strategies to ensure host country stakeholders embrace their investments. ChemChina’s interactions with the European Union (EU) over its Syngenta acquisition raise new uncertainties about the deal. Chinese FDI flows into Germany now are almost double what they were for the prior ten years! Businesses from the Philippines glom in large numbers onto President Roberto Duterte mid-October trip to China. China Everbright Ltd. CEO criticizes the motives behind some COFDI. Toyota is waiting for news from the United Kingdom (UK) about the post-Brexit tariff situation before making any decisions about future investments in the UK. Despite Brexit, Nissan opts to built its new Qashqai model in the United Kingdom (UK). Japanese firm wins new contract work for Delhi-Mumbai freight railway. Marubeni and Sojitz win multi-billion dollar gas-fired power plant station contract in Indonesia. Korea Electric Power Corporation signs mega-contract to operate four UAE nuclear power plants that it also will build. FDI flows into Indonesia increased 7.8 in the third quarter year over year (YOY). Japanese firms show increasing confidence in increasing their investments in Indonesia. FDI flows into Thailand increase minimally, reflecting limited confidence in the country’s growth prospects. Foreign technology firms push Thailand to undertake various measures to maintain and advanced its status as a “digital nation.” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will focus on getting more Chinese investment during his trip to China. PowerChina International, Shenzhen Yantian Port Group, and Rizhao Port Group will work with Malaysia on a deep sea port in the Strait of Malacca.
October 18th, 2016
China’s inward foreign direct investment (FDI) for the first nine months of 2016 grows a modest 4.2 percent year-over-year (YOY). China takes various steps to ease process for inward FDI, but foreign observers reserve judgement. Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration imposes several million dollars in fines on Shanghai Husi and OSI Group’s China office for distributing reprocessed and expired meat. GlaxoSmithKline has been moving over the past two years to enhance its R&D capabilities in China and to take other steps to enhance its ability to serve Chinese patients. Chinese outward FDI in the US hits a record in 2015, spurring increased sensitivity. Chinese President Xi Jinping promises Portuguese Prime Minister his country will encourage more investment in Portugal. Alibaba plans to help Thailand with small business development, e-commerce, and e-payments. Chongqing actively engages with China’s One Belt, One Road scheme giving it all kinds of new export and logistics opportunities. Fujitsu plans to downside in the UK and denies the move relates to Brexit, though there are doubts. Japan’s SoftBank partners with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to create massive tech investment fund. Korean construction firm Doosan wins approximately billion dollar power plant project in Saudi Arabia. Korea Electric Power Corporation wins more than $35 billion coal-fired thermal plant contract in South Africa, the country’s first independent power project. Investors enthused about Indonesia infrastructure opportunities, but worry about requirement they be paid in rupiah. Malaysia welcomes investment in the biomass industry and announces major new investment by Korean petroleum refiner. Samsung’s massive global Galaxy7 smartphone recall may have an adverse impact on Vietnam’s growth rate. Ho Chi Minh City see big drop in investment in industrial parks and export processing zones as it pushes investment in tech rather than labor-intensive sectors.
October 4th, 2016
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) dismisses foreign business concerns about the investment environment for foreign direct investment (FDI). Microsoft, whose Windows 8 was banned two years ago on government computers, is now working on a localized government operating system for China. Outward FDI (OFDI) by Chinese financial institutions jumped 26 percent in 2015 while Chinese OFDI hit a new record. Chinese private firms become the dominant Chinese overseas direct investors in 2015. ChemChina seeks European Union approval of its immense acquisition of Syngenta AG. The parties involved in the Hinkley Point nuclear power complex project, which involves a major Chinese role, finally signed a contract for the deal. China and Thailand struggle to settle issues pertaining to a major joint railway project. China moves to bolster its investment, trade, and other forms of cooperation with Cuba. Japanese business delegation asks China to enhance exit procedures and antitrust rules. Indonesia may impose more than USD $400 tax bill on Google. Foreign pharmaceutical companies pour big money into Indonesia in anticipation of new health care opportunities. FDI accounts for more than 30 percent of Malaysian investment in the first six months of 2016. Thailand is moving to tighten tax collection rules for foreign internet and technology firms. Vietnam moving towards eliminating various caps on foreign involvement in its banking sector. Vietnam’s planned divestiture of Vinamilk could be a very positive sign for the country’s privatization drive.