Hot Topics for MNCs, Cool Analysis*
July 1st, 2019
President Donald Trump’s tough stance on intellectual property rights (IPR) violations seems to be driving China to treat foreign IPR more respectfully. At the Osaka G20 Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping announces several measures China will undertake to open its market further to foreign direct investment (FDI) and improve IPR protection. This past week witnessed the creation of the Belt and Road Economic Information Partnership (BREIP). Two major BRI projects in Africa end. At the Osaka G20 summit, participating countries embrace Japan’s international principles for quality infrastructure. Japan tells two leading candidates for the British Prime Ministership it does not want a “no deal Brexit.” As part of its downstream growth and diversification strategy, Saudi Aramco and its affiliates have signed a dozen accords with South Korean companies covering sectors areas like shipbuilding, engine manufacturing, and petrochemicals. A consortium involving Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KNHP) and KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering (KPS) signs a five-year maintenance service deal for the Barakah nuclear power plant, but fails to garner responsibilities for maintenance services, nuclear scientists, and engineers.
June 26th, 2019
China Premier Li Keqiang works to lure foreign direct investment (FDI) during the Global CEO Council in Beijing. In 2018, the deal value of European mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in China soared by 856 percent to USD $9.94 billion. European Union (EU)-China talks on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and China’s negative list show better progress than expected. Brazilian Vice President welcomes Chinese FDI in infrastructure as long as it creates jobs and respects Brazilian rules. Around the time of the G-20, French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss issues about the Renault-Nissan alliance with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Numerous Japanese corporate subsidiaries in the United States have voiced opposition to Donald Trump’s proposal to slap tariffs of 25 percent on another $300 billion of Chinese products. Tokyo has requested Seoul to establish an arbitration panel consisting of representatives selected by other countries to help deal with their wartime forced labor compensation dispute. Seoul prepared to block a deal that would sell Taihan Electric Wire to a Chinese company because it deems Taihan’s high-voltage cable technologies a “‘national core technology.’”
June 18th, 2019
People’s Bank of China willing to back “pilot program based in Shanghai to remove the foreign ownership limit in firms providing securities and fund management services.” According to China Ministry of Commerce report, the growth rate of United States (US) foreign direct investment in China seems to be slowing. Chinese firms have been become increasingly active in hydropower sector overseas. Shanghai’s new technology board seen offering opportunities for Chinese firms encountering limits in dealing with the US or US companies. Tokyo Electron not to supply “Chinese clients blacklisted by Washington.” Japan’s Inpex ready to agree in principle with Indonesia to build a USD $18.4 billion liquefied natural gas plant. Renault Samsung Motors union cancels plans for an all-out strike due to workers going on strike against union management. LG Chem forms 50-50 joint venture with China’s Geely to position itself for new market opportunities after Chinese government electric vehicle battery subsidies cease.
June 10th, 2019
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) reports United States (US) tariffs on Chinese goods have not significantly affected the country’s flows of inward foreign direct investment (FDI). MOFCOM announces China will blacklist “unreliable” foreign businesses which violate market rules, take discriminatory measures hurting Chinese business rights and interests, or threaten China’s national security. China’s plan to build a $1.9 billion light-railway system in Kazakhstan has stalled as China Development Bank cuts off funding due to possible corruption problems. China keeps open non-money-making Vietnam-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Park (VCEP) because of VCEP’s contribution to better image of Chinese FDI. Japanese and other multinational corporations call for more standardized and clearer rules and greater freedom for data transfer and storage. Airbnb experiences revival in Japan after new regulations caused tens of thousands of listers to check-out. Recent arrests of several Samsung Electronics senior executives for an alleged accounting fraud may distract Samsung from taking advantage of the woes of major competitor Huawei. In light of its recent retreat from overseas ventures, Korea National Oil Corp.’s announcement it planned to invest roughly USD $253 million in the UAE in an oil development project has caused controversy.
June 1st, 2019
Foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic firms, lured by, respectively, China’s consumer stimulus and attractive valuations may mitigate the adverse effects of the US-China trade war on China. The trade war and new regulatory environment is driving Fosun to limit its investments in United States (US) biotech companies and to turn its attention to emerging markets. Namibia amenable to China National Uranium Corporation taking over the world’s longest-running open pit uranium mine provided it respects Namibian employment laws. Japan tightens restrictions on FDI in its high-tech sectors. Japan’s Inpex Corp. strikes USD $20 billion framework deal with Indonesia to develop an onshore liquefied natural gas facility. Large Korean companies remain on the sidelines in the wake of the US’s action to limit the supply of parts to China’s Huawei. To protect their interests in China, Korean firms are courting Chinese party leaders, forming joint ventures, and investing billions of dollars in Chinese high-tech sectors.
May 27th, 2019
China’s Cyberspace Administration releases draft document stating, “operators of the country’s critical information infrastructure…will be required to take into account national security risk when purchasing foreign products and services.” A recent European Union (EU) Chamber of Commerce in China survey suggests the problem of forced technology transfers in China has worsened. The US is considering cutting off the flow of American technology to five other Chinese firms putatively because of these companies’ role in supporting Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang. With the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aiming to become a major China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner, China’s East Hope Group conglomerate contemplates $10 billion port investment there. China’s chargé d'affaires in London warns if Huawei banned from Britain’s 5G network there might be “substantial” repercussions for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United Kingdom (UK). The Japan unit of US e-commerce giant Amazon has decided to stop direct sales of all Huawei products through its online store. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. said it will tighten standards for lending to coal-fired power plants with high emissions of CO2. Renault Samsung workers in Korea reject draft wage and bargaining agreement which may lead to an “indefinite all-out strike” that drives the joint venture’s upcoming XM3 production to Spain. Iraq’s Ministry of Petroleum awards Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction a $2.45 billion contract to build a seawater supply facility in Iraq.
May 19th, 2019
According to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the growth rate of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) from the United States (US) into China over the first four months of 2019 dropped noticeably year-over-year (YOY). Beijing moves to tighten controls over technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and industrial security systems to bolster national information security. Expansion of American tariffs on Chinese goods drives more companies out of China. US Commerce Department’s proposed ban on hardware and service exports to Huawei could severely affect the firm and its American suppliers. Japanese companies working to use more foreign directors to enhance corporate governance and benefit from new thinking. Japan’s Toyota expresses dismay at US President Trump’s statement that “the US needs to defend itself against foreign cars and components.” FDI flows into South Korea for the first quarter of 2019 plummet YOY with some attributing it to the end of tax breaks. Hoping to position itself for the time when subsides for new energy vehicles (NEV) end, South Korea’s SK Innovation plans to open a second battery factory in China.
May 10th, 2019
The ongoing China-United States (US) trade war coupled with other economic and political factors drives more firms to consider other locations besides China. China moves to take more steps to protect intellectual property (IP), partly to assuage the concerns of foreign investors. China poured record amounts of investment into US start-ups last year despite Sino-American tensions, but there are dark clouds on the horizon especially in regard to investment screening. Security and other concerns lead US Federal Communications Commission hangs up on China Mobile’s effort to operate and offer service in the US. Not a single European country has joined Washington’s call to boycott China’s Huawei. Japanese banks move to improve their anti-money laundering and terrorist financing practices so as to increase chances of good Financial Action Task Force review. Japanese foreign direct investment in the US surges for political and economic reasons, with some “red states” seemingly benefiting from the former. Seoul police investigate if BMW Korea’s Chairman covered up automobile defects. Lotte Chemical launches USD $3.1 billion ethylene cracker complex in Louisiana with strong political support from Korea and the US.
May 3rd, 2019
Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) into China shows decent growth in the first quarter of 2019 with United States (US) FDI showing particularly strong growth. China announces moves to open its banking and financial sectors further. The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s strategic location allows it to snare USD $3.4 billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deals. Cambodia throws the dice for more China FDI deals while shifting further away from the European Union (EU). Japan ponders proposing rules to increase transparency and responsible financing for infrastructure investment in developing countries during the upcoming Group of 20 (G-20) summit. Lawyers representing South Koreans forced to labor for Japanese corporations during World War II requested a court to sell assets seized from relevant Japanese firms. South Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon lobbies Kuwait to allow more South Korean companies to participate in infrastructure project in the country.
April 30th, 2019
United States (US) Trade Representative (USTR) criticizes China’s intellectual property (IP) protections and calls for stronger IP safeguards. China pledges the journey along its Belt and Road (BRI) will only get better. Survey shows new European Union (EU) foreign direct investment (FDI) screening laws make Chinese companies feel the EU is discriminating against them. United Kingdom (UK) reportedly dials into China’s Huawei participating in its 5G network activities. Eager to keep Italy from moving too close to Beijing, Japan calls for deeper economic (and military) cooperation during top leader summit. Korea charged up about lack of level playing field relating to electric vehicle subsidies. Korean petrochemical firms will be hit by the upcoming end to the US policy of granting waivers to countries importing Iranian crude oil.