MNCs in the News-2021-October

China

During a press conference on its 5-Year Plan and 2035 long-term objectives, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) noted “China will push further opening-up of businesses in key fields including finance, telecom, internet, education, culture, and medical services in a considered manner…and will relax the conditions for investment by high-quality foreign investors in listed companies.” Furthermore, China plans to improve its negative list while “easing the access burden of foreign-funded enterprises.” China expects foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021 to exceed $160 billion (“Total Foreign Investment in China Forecasted to Exceed $160 Billion in 2021,” Global Times, October 22, 2021, https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202110/1237046.shtml)

At the aforementioned press conference, MOFCOM “pledged to improve the quality of FDI while keeping the quantity stable.” On a related note, it said China expected to “rank among the top destinations globally in terms of the scale of [inward] FDI [IFDI] use and its position as a major country in FDI use should remain steady.” China MOFCOM further observed the “interaction of IFDI with outbound FDI, foreign trade, and domestic consumption should grow during the 5-Year Plan period” (“China’s Ministry of Commerce Issues Development Plan for FDI Use,” China Daily, October 25, 2021, https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202110/25/WS61761d7ca310cdd39bc710cc....)

China’s Ministry of Finance released a statement in which it affirmed, except where national security or state secrets were involved, “China would equally treat suppliers from home and abroad in terms of government procurement [of goods and services]…to ensure a level playing field per the nation’s foreign investment law and protect foreign companies’ legal interests.” China sees fair treatment as critical for joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and also boosting IFDI. Experts highlighted the importance of increased procurement transparency (Chen Jia, “Govt to Treat Domestic, Foreign Suppliers Equally in Procurement,” China Daily, October 26, 2021, global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202110/26/WS617738dca310cdd39bc712ec.html)

Indonesia is allocating state-funds to support the now over-budget and behind schedule Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway (HSR), which was supposed to be completed by a Chinese consortium “with no financial contributions or guarantees required from the Indonesian government.” The project is having problems because of unexpected obstacles relating to land acquisition, poor planning, and higher construction costs. The project has failed all the metrics which led Indonesia to support this Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) HSR project over a competing Japanese project (Koya Jibiki, “Indonesia Turns to State Coffers as China-Led Rail Project’s Costs Soar,” Nikkei Asia, October 14, 2021, https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Belt-and-Road/Indonesia-turns-to-state...)

Cosco has received an additional 16 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority, boosting its stake to 67 from 51 percent. Cosco is entitled to the shares pursuant to a 2016 agreement which obligated it to invest about 300 million euros in building up the port. Many investments remain incomplete with Cosco blaming the Greek government and local groups. Some criticize the deal’s benefits for Greeks while others worry about its political and security implications. China views Piraeus as critical node in its BRI (Eleni Varvitsioti, “Piraeus Port Deal Intensifies Greece’s Unease over China Links,” Financial Times, October 19, 2021)

Japan

Chinese and Hong Kongese companies and individuals are among the largest investors in Japanese real estate, including some with forests and access to water resources. This FDI in such natural assets has raised concerns among local governments and residents, especially since there is a paucity of data and limited legal and administrative structures to regulate what purchasers are doing. For now, Japanese national law just allows the collection of detailed information about landowners and land usage activities near facilities deemed sensitive to national security (“Japanese Real Estate Targeted by Chinese and Hong Kongers,” The Japan Times, October 11, 2021, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/10/11/business/overseas-property-...)

Taiwan’s TSMC will build a plant in Japan that can produce chips for use in automobiles and consumer electronics. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida lauded the plant, commenting it would “serve to improve Japan’s economic security.” Tokyo will provide financial aid for the project, which is particularly welcome at time when global semiconductor demand exceeds supply and China and the United States (US) remain in a technology war. TSMC recently announced plans to set up a R&D subsidiary in Japan (“TSMC Looking to Build Japan Plant in 2022 and Start Operations in 2024,” The Japan Times, October 14, 2022, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/10/14/business/corporate-business...)

Korea

During a report to the Korea National Assembly, the Chair of the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) “dismissed the possibility of toughening regulations on big tech companies as a corresponding measure against them abusing their market dominance as platform operators” because of fears of hurting market innovation or dynamism. However, the chair added that the KFTC was paying close attention to unfair business practices and also working to ensure that needed legal structures existed to limit the mistreatment of businesses and customers (Yi Whan-Woo, “Korea Dismisses Possibility of Toughening Rules on Big Tech Firms,” Korea Times, October 5, 2021, https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2021/10/693_316504.html)

With South Korean companies becoming bigger players overseas, financial firms are marketing them an increasing number of merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. Of late, Korean firms are becoming particularly active in biotechnology, renewable, and other high-tech areas, which is turning their attention to M&A possibilities in the US and Europe from traditional investment destinations such as China and Southeast Asia. Notable players in M&A include SK, Hyundai, LG Electronics, and Hanwha Solutions which have purchased, among other things, renewable energy, auto parts, and petrochemical companies (Jung Min-Hee, “South Korean Enterprises Emerging in Global M&A Market,” BusinessKorea, October 5, 2021, https://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=77827)

*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.