MNCs in the News-2018-06-29

China

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) revealed a new negative list reducing the items on the list from last year’s 63 to 48. As expected, restrictions like ownership limits in autos, insurance, and the financial services industry have been lifted as will be limits in ship and aircraft manufacturing, power grids, and certain agricultural areas. The United States (US) and the European Union (EU) have been pressing for changes. Capital requirements, limits on approvals, or other barriers may limit actual sectoral openings (Se Young Lee and Yawen Chen, “China Further Eases Foreign Investment Curbs,” Reuters, June 28, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-economy-foreign-investment/chin...)

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and NDRC released a revamped negative list for foreign direct investment (FDI) in China’s 11 pilot free trade zones (FTZs). The new list cuts the number of restricted sectors from 95 to 45 and differs from the nationwide negative list because it “removes or loosens foreign access restrictions in more fields” by allowing higher or no foreign ownership limits. The cultural sector has experienced a notable breakthrough with FDI allowed in performing arts agencies (“China Unveils New Negative List for Foreign Investment in FTZs,” China Daily, July 1, 2018, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201807/01/WS5b381d4aa3103349141dff5a.html)

Speaking to reporters, US President Donald Trump seemed to indicate that an enhancement of American FDI review/restrictions would not just focus on Chinese FDI, but all sources of FDI. Moreover, rather than establishing new procedures that might ban outright acquisition of industrially significant technology by companies with more than 25 percent Chinese ownership, the US would focus on expanding the review powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has support in the US Congress (Steve Holland and David Lawder, “Trump Says Security Panel can Protect U.S. Technology from China,” Reuters, June 27, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-investment/trump-says...)

Japan

Nissan has picked Thailand as the first market for exports of its new hybrid cars using the e-Power system due to the Thai government’s policies encouraging low-emission eco-cars by lowering buyer prices. The e-Power system is unique because it uses the gasoline engine solely to charge the battery for the electric motor that turns the wheels. Nissan also may consider local production of these cars in Thailand depending on how well the car sells locally and what investment incentives Bangkok offers (Rei Nakafuji, “Nissan picks Thailand as first export market for unique hybrid,” Nikkei Asian Review, June 23, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Nissan-picks-Thailand-as-firs...)

Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) signed a memorandum with Thailand’s governmental agency, the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office (STI), aimed at boosting Thailand’s inward FDI. SMBC hopes to prompt investments in Thailand’s special economic zone, the Eastern Economic Corridor, where the Thai government is promoting development. The STI will cooperate with SMBC by introducing human resources like researchers and engineers to SMBC’s clients. This is the first alliance the STI has made with a financial institution (Kishimoto Marimi, “Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Thai government agency cooperate to attract investment,” Nippon Nikkei Shinbun, June 29, 2018, https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXMZO3238417028062018FFE000)

South Korea

Managing leaders of South Korea’s Samsung Group recently convened to discuss a growing “China problem” as the company faces allegations of price fixing from the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of China’s Ministry of Commerce and tougher competition from Beijing’s policies to spur domestic tech firms. Though Samsung remains China’s largest individual foreign investor with over USD $14 billion pouring into the country, shifts in government policy are putting pressure on the South Korean firm to give up valuable patents if the firm wants to expand further (Kim Yoo-chul, “’China risk’ tops agenda for Samsung Group,” The Korea Times, June 25, 2018, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2018/06/133_251232.html)

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers, a leading silicon wafer producer, announced its intent to construct a $450 million production facility in Cheonan, South Korea. It previously signed an agreement with an unnamed South Korean partner for the plant, but remained cautious about a decline in the investment environment following increased trade tensions between China and the US. South Korea is the latest destination for GlobalWafers following investments in America’s SunEdison and Denmark’s Topsil Semiconductor Materials in 2016 (Cheng Ting-Fang, “GlobalWafers says $450m Korean investment on track,” Nikkei Asian Review, June 25, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/GlobalWafers-says-450m-Korean...)

Malaysia

The Malaysian government is optimistic that investors’ confidence will be restored and the string of eight consecutive weeks of foreigners fleeing Bursa Malaysia, Malaysia’s stock market, will end. Moreover, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s recent visit to Japan and Indonesia is expected to lure FDI into Malaysia. Mahathir has emphasized FDI as one of his top priorities, emphasizing high tech and capital-intensive investments. There is a steep hill to climb given FDI inflows dropped by 17 percent compared to 2016 according to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (“Azmin Ali expects investor confidence to be restored,” The Star, June 28, 2018, https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/28/azmin-ali-e...)

A recent survey on Japanese companies conducted by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry revealed that Japanese companies are interested in setting up their manufacturing bases in Malaysia and are looking to invest in new sectors in Malaysia including aerospace, automotive components, renewable energy and medical equipment. JETRO’s Managing Director stated “If government policies continue to promote new industries such as aerospace, there would be a big opportunity for related Japanese companies to venture into the Malaysian market” (“Japanese companies looking at opportunities in new sectors,” New Straits Times, June 28, 2018, https://www.nst.com.my/business/2018/06/385235/japanese-companies-lookin...)

*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.