Hot Topics for MNCs, Cool Analysis*
March 22nd, 2020
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) notes China will strive to help foreign businesses resume normal operations, will shorten the negative list for foreign direct investment (FDI), and will advance major foreign-invested projects. Shanghai city government highlights that major foreign financial firms continue to inject FDI into the brokerage, asset management, and securities sectors, among others, despite the Covid-19 epidemic. China State Construction Engineering Corporation places first tower cap in mega skyscraper project for Egypt’s new administrative capital, part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Japan’s Ministry of Finance starts to solicit public comment on future revisions to the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. List of Japanese companies suspending operations at factories in the United States (US) due to coronavirus grows. Korea Rail Network Authority (KRNA) wins a bid from Thailand to manage a high-speed railway linking three airports. Hyundai Rotem, a subsidiary of Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, ordered by Brazil’s Ministry of Labor to pay large fine plus moneys due workers for failing to pay workers overtime pay.
March 15th, 2020
China’s State Council identifies measures to encourage greater foreign direct investment (FDI) into China. Shanghai continues to attract inward FDI and seeks to reach new heights in 2020. China’s TikTok to establish center in United States (US) to assuage worries that user data is being transmitted back to China. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tells US Congressional committee that the US is working with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to ensure their funds are not used to repay Belt and Road Initiative debts. Japan will not allow investors filing applications under its new FDI review system to submit notice online or in English. Japanese Ministry of Finance data shows Japan’s overseas investment earnings rose steadily in January 2019, offsetting deficits in other areas. Hyundai Heavy Industries’ acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering encountered another obstacle with the European Commission delaying its decision on the merger until the summer. Korea’s Samsung facing hindrances to its efforts to boost production at some of its Vietnam factories due to Vietnam’s restrictions on Korean travelers resulting from the coronavirus.
March 8th, 2020
China assures foreign investors measures to “help firms resume operations and restore supply chains” disrupted by the coronavirus epidemic will treat “foreign and domestic companies equally.” Foreign intellectual property filings (invention patents and trademarks) in China show respectable growth in 2019 over the prior year due to legal, regulatory, and processing improvements. Beijing Kunlun on the verge of fulfilling United States (US) Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to sell Grindr. CFIUS reportedly has advised US President Donald Trump to block German firm Infineon, who counts China as a major client, planned purchase of Cypress Semiconductor. Japan’s Council on Investment in the Future contemplating ways to protect the economy from supply chains disruption in China caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Japan Institute for Overseas Investment has concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with Zambia to join a network to facilitate FDI flows to Zambia. Korea Communication Commission develops arbitration proposal that might serve as a template for resolving conflicts between content providers and service providers. Vietnam to quarantine all visitors from South Korea potentially hindering Korean companies that are becoming increasingly prominent investors there.
March 2nd, 2020
American Chamber of Commerce in China survey shows foreign businesses want tax breaks, clearer and more consistent policies, and greater transparency to help their recovery from the coronavirus epidemic. Survey of European businesses in China reflects, among other things, dissatisfaction with “unpredictable rules, highly restrictive quarantine demands and extensive pre-conditions to restart operations.” Huawei plans to build its first European Union (EU) manufacturing plant in France to address security and other concerns. United States (US) Transportation Security Agency requests its employees to cease using China’s TikTok app to create public content and promotional materials. Tokyo may revise its Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act to lighten advance notice requirements for certain entities such as university endowments and corporate pension funds. Nissan warns that the failure to strike a free trade agreement with the EU post-Brexit may affect the future of its factory in the United Kingdom. Seoul to modify laws and boost incentives to lure more large South Korean companies to come home.
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.