MNCs in the News-2019-08-16

China

While China has been working on opening-up to more overseas investment, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced that foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into the mainland rose 7.3 percent year over year (YOY) to 533.14 billion yuan from January to July 2019. Over the same period, 24,050 new foreign-funded firms were established. High-tech industries and services saw the highest surge in FDI. Surveys among foreign companies investing in China show that they remain confident in China’s investment environment despite the trade disputes between Beijing and Washington (“Economic Watch: Wider opening-up attracts more FDI into China,” Xinhua, August 13, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/13/c_138306497.htm)

The city of Beijing issued a plan to relax controls over FDI in cultural and entertainment businesses over the next three years. According to the city’s plan, foreign investors will be able to invest in eight new sectors, provide online entertainment content including online games, and establish wholly foreign-owned entertainment venues and performance agencies nationwide. Beyond this, overseas investors will be allowed to invest in audio-visual production in certain industrial zones and, with domestic investors, parks (Liu Shuangshuang and Han Wei, “Beijing grants foreign investors wider access to entertainment industry,” Caixin, August 16, 2019, https://www.caixinglobal.com/2019-08-16/beijing-grants-foreign-investors...)

Chinese FDI into Europe is slowing down amid economic uncertainties and growing trade tensions. Chinese firms invested USD $2.4 billion in Europe in the first half of 2019, down 84 percent compared with the first six months of 2018. From January to June 2019, Chinese companies bought out or bought into 81 European businesses, 28 percent less than in the same period last year. There were no Chinese merger and acquisition deals in in Germany, Europe's largest economy and first investment destination for Chinese firms. (Chen Weihua, “Chinese investment in Europe dips in H1,” China Daily, August 15, 2019, http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201908/15/WS5d54b008a310cf3e35565d68.html)

According to a new survey, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia are the top three Asian countries offering the best opportunities for investing in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Companies looking to invest in BRI infrastructure in these countries are especially eyeing projects such as smart cities, industrial estates, and roads. As the BRI is often criticized for environmental and political problems, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that China will pay more attention to its sustainability issues (Dewey Sim, “Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia are Asia’s top spots for China’s belt and road plan: executives,” South China Morning Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/economics/article/3022994/vietnam-singapo...)

Japan

The volatile situation in Hong Kong has pushed Japan’s Foreign Ministry to put out a “Level 1 travel warning” which “advises travelers…to exercise caution.” “Japanese financial institutions with branches [there] have become wary of conducting business in the area. MUFG Bank…has instructed its employees against making unnecessary business trips to Hong Kong. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. is stepping up efforts to confirm the whereabouts of employees…Some companies have instructed employees to work at home if their safety cannot be guaranteed” (“Japanese firms in Hong Kong concerned protests may escalate as ministry issues warning,” The Japan Times, August 16, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/16/business/japanese-firms-hon...)

India’s Andhra Pradesh new Chief Minister charged the prior government had signed wind and solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) at unreasonable prices and that questionable practices might be involved. He said he would investigate and renegotiate. Japan is a big investor with Soft Bank and other companies investing in SB Energy while JERA is a major investor in ReNew Power. Japan’s Ambassador to India “has warned the state’s efforts to cut renewable energy tariffs…has unnerved foreign investors and damaged the business environment” (Kaavya Chandrasekaran, “Japan cautions Andhra Pradesh against reworking green power pacts,” The Economic Times, August 14, 2019, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/japan-caution...)

South Korea

Reacting to a report that in 2018 the Korea Investment Corp. (KIC), Korea’s sovereign wealth fund, had poured USD $3.4 billion into almost 50 Japanese firms with ties to wartime forced labor, Korean lawmakers have proposed legislation to prevent the KIC from putting money into such entities. The current environment also is putting pressure on “Korea’s National Pension Service to stop investing in Japanese businesses involved in Japan's wartime slave labor.” Lawmakers became especially active after Japan instituted export controls against Korea companies (Park Jae-Hyuk, “KIC also urged to stop investing in Japan,” The Korea Times, August 13, 2019, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/biz/2019/08/367_273879.html)

A Korean consumer boycott of Japanese goods and services appears to have led to a decline in imports of Japanese goods of 14 percent in July over the same period the prior year. Japanese cars were hit the hardest, though Japanese golf clubs, beer, and sake also saw noteworthy drops. Korea’s consumer boycott began after Tokyo commenced tougher export controls on goods going to Seoul. After Tokyo removed Korean companies from its whitelist of countries receiving preferential treatment, the boycott intensified (Baek Byung-Yeul, “Sales of Japanese consumer goods sink on ‘Boycott Japan’ campaign,” The Korea Times, August 15, 2019, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2019/08/693_274010.html)

*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.