MNCs in the News-2018-03-16

China

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) reported foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows for the first two months of 2018 totaled USD $22.1 billion, a 0.5 percent increase over the same period last year. During this period more than 8800 new companies were created. Of note, inward FDI (IFDI) into the high tech sector surged 27.9 percent year over year (YOY) while high-tech manufacturing IFDI jumped 89.7 percent YOY. Major sources of IFDI growth were Singapore, Korea, and the United States. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) IFDI grew by 75.7 percent YOY (“Trend of FDI Inflow,” China Daily, March 15, 2018, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201803/15/WS5aaa28a1a3106e7dcc141e39.html)

United States (US) President Donald Trump is looking at using Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act to impose tariffs on up to USD $60 billion of Chinese goods, specially targeting the information technology, consumer electronics, and telecoms sectors. Per reports, “Trump is targeting Chinese high technology companies to punish China for its investment policies that effectively force U.S. companies to give up their technology secrets in exchange for being allowed to operate in” China (David Lawder and Michael Martina, “Trump Eyes Tariffs on Up to $60 Billion Chinese Goods; Tech, Telecoms, Apparel Targeted,” Reuters, March 14, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china/trump-eyes-tariffs-on...)

China slowed its financing on BRI energy projects from $19.9 billion in 2016 to $14.3 billion in 2017, a drop of 28 percent YOY. Since 2001, China’s financing for BRI projects has totaled nearly $130 billion. The drop may be attributable to China’s restrictions on capital countries. A very large percentage of financing to date has gone to Europe and Central Asia with Asia getting a very large amount and Africa far less. Chinese financing has focused on coal projects (Faseeh Mangi and Dan Murtaugh, “China Seen Slowing Spending on Belt and Road Energy Projects,” Bloomberg, March 12, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-12/china-seen-slowing-sp...)

Pursuant to China’s BRI, there will a large number of infrastructure project along the route. These include a major coal power project in Pakistan pursuant to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $165.9 million hydro-electric station in Nepal, and a hydropower project in Laos. Chinese media report these projects are creating thousands of jobs and higher incomes, addressing power shortages, and creating indirect opportunities in the accounting, consulting, equipment transportation, and material supply sectors. Previously neglected areas are also benefitting from the expansion of the BRI (Li Xuanmin, “B&R Drives Sustainable Development in Asia,” Global Times, March 12, 2018, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1092855.shtml)

Japan

Japanese firm Panasonic recently announced it has started mass production of batteries for electric vehicles (EV) at its plant in Dalian, China. The electronics maker allegedly invested several hundred million dollars in its Dalian site, though it has not disclosed any specific figures. A boost in demand for batteries in China is expected because in 2019 Beijing will impose “a minimum requirement on production of new-energy vehicles.” Panasonic is currently the world leader in automotive lithium-ion batteries, however Chinese competitors are striving to catch up (“Panasonic starts mass-producing hybrid car batteries in China,” Nikkei Asian Review, March 14, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Panasonic-starts-mass-produci...)

The Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) raided US company Amazon’s Japanese headquarters over suspicions that the online retailing giant was in violation of anti-trust regulations. The JFTC suspects Amazon Japan of forcing suppliers to bear a portion of the cost of Amazon’s product discounts. Amazon stands accused of using its superior bargaining position to force smaller companies into compromising financial situations. This is the second time that Amazon has been accused of breaking anti-trust laws and the company says it is “fully cooperating” with authorities (“FTC raids Amazon Japan over suspected antitrust violation,” The Japan Times, March 15, 2018, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/15/business/corporate-business...)

South Korea

South Korea’s Ssangyong Engineering and Construction and Daewoo Engineering and Construction received a letter of acceptance from the government of Singapore to undertake a USD $740 million smart hospital project. The two South Korean companies will partner with Singapore’s Koh Brothers Building and Civil Engineering Contractor and each will hold a 40 percent stake in Singapore’s first integrated care facility. The consortium will adhere to government specifications for telehealth, automation and smart technology in building the public hospital (Kang Seung-woo, “Ssangyong, Daewoo wins $740 mil. Order in Singapore,” The Korea Times, March 15, 2018, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2018/03/693_245669.html)

After China’s Qingdao Doublestar recently acquired struggling South Korean tire company Kumho, the company’s workers staged a strike to protest against their new foreign owners. 4,000 union members participated in a walk out to raise awareness for their demands to terminate the Doublestar sale and to receive overdue wages. Kumho management officials warned the union that the company risked liquidation if the Qingdao Doublestar deal fell through, but no deal was struck with union leaders to terminate the strike (Park Jae-hyuk, “Kumho Tire workers to go on strike,” The Korea Times, March 13, 2018, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2018/03/419_245550.html)

Indonesia

Following a survey conducted by US News and World Report that reported Indonesia ranked second when it comes to the world’s attractive countries for investors, the country’s President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated the key criterion for investors was “the trend” and not “the condition.” He emphasized that “They (investors) know when the country is going to fix certain things that are not ideal yet, and so they target it. It will not work if the ideal country has a declined trend.” (“Indonesia ranked second among most attractive investors: Jokowi,” Antara News.com, March 15, 2018, https://en.antaranews.com/news/114988/indonesia-ranked-second-among-most...)

China has stated its intent to help fund and build a 5.6-kilometer bridge in Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province. However, according to North Kalimantan Governor Irianto Labrie, only a USD $31.67 million grant from the Chinese government has been used thus far even though a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the provincial government and the China Road and Bridge Corp. The bridge is set to be the longest in the country and cost up to USD $14.5 billion (“China to build Indonesia’s longest bridge in North Kalimantan,” The Jakarta Post, March 15, 2018, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/14/china-to-build-indonesias-...)

Thailand

US multinational Honeywell repeated its commitment to bring investment to and cooperate with Thailand. Honeywell believes its high-technology and investment plans match the government’s “Thailand 4.0” vision for transforming the economy into a digital economy. The US company also pledged to work more closely with local business, industry, and government entities to bring investment and infrastructure to Thailand by joining with 40 local partners across various industries and also investing in Thailand’s human resources (Jirapan Boonnoon, “Solutions provider Honeywell pursues path to high growth,” The Nation, March 14, 2018, http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/Corporate/30340838)

Germany’s luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz and its Thai joint-venture (JV) partner Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant will invest USD $123 million to build hybrid electric vehicle (EV) batteries in Thailand. The JV filed for investment privileges through Thailand’s Board of Investment for its battery operations as it meets new government EV criteria, becoming the first car manufacturer to produce EV batteries locally. The two companies will also launch new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles in the country under Bangkok’s new EV regulations (Piyachart Maikaew, “Mercedes-Benz readies PHEV batteries,” Bangkok Post, March 15, 2018, https://www.bangkokpost.com/auto/news/1428391/mercedes-benz-readies-phev...)

Vietnam

Following the collapse of a major USD $3.2 billion refinery and petrochemical project, Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment is reviewing large foreign investment projects throughout the country. Projects under review include a USD $1.2 billion solar manufacturing plant involving US First Solar Technology Group, a USD $3.5 billion university township project involving Malaysia’s Berjaya Corporation, and a USD $1 billion steel plant involving Japan’s Kobe Steel, among others. The government has instructed officials to resolve problems affecting project implementation or find ways to rescue projects that are infeasible (“Vietnam to review long-delayed projects,” Vietnamnet Bridge, March 15, 2018, http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/197181/vietnam-to-review-long-...)

Vietnam’s Binh Duong provincial People’s Committee granted 15 investment certificates to foreign firms investing in the region including US Warburg Pincus Financial Group and China’s Far Eastern Apparel. The latest round of investment projects brought USD $150 million in new registered capital which provincial leaders attribute to improvements and transparency in the local government’s investment climate. Binh Duong is the country’s second largest destination for foreign investment, attracting over USD $435 million in new and existing project over the past two months (“Binh Duong grants 19 investment certificates,” Vietnam News Bizhub, March 13, 2018, http://bizhub.vn/news/binh-duong-grants-19-investment-certificates_29311...)

*The information compiled in the MNCs in the News digest is gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the Wong MNC Center does not guarantee their accuracy. The content of the MNCs in the News digest does not necessarily represent the view of the Wong MNC Center, its Board of Directors, or its Advisory Board, but is intended for the non-commercial use of readers in order to foster debate and discussion and to facilitate and stimulate research.