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MNCs in the News-2019-05-17

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.

MNCs in the News-2019-05-10

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.

MNCs in the News-2019-04-05

Chinese government shines light on subnational units that are making it difficult for foreign direct investment (FDI). China lubricating way for foreign energy giants to enter its petrochemical sector. Beijing is drafting rules to identify a list of BRI projects officially acknowledged by the Chinese government. China’s expansion in Latin America via the BRI raises US anxieties. British officials and senior labor union members will travel to Japan to press Honda to review its decision to shut down its United Kingdom (UK) Swindon plant. Toshiba experiencing delays in securing approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to sell its liquefied natural gas (LNG) business to a Chinese company. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) risks bid to become long-term maintenance service provider of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (ENEC) Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant because of its unilateral decision to replace plant’s workforce. Responding to a Saudi Arabian Cabinet member’s interview reporting “‘advanced’” talks, Hyundai Motor denied plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia.

MNCs in the News-2019-03-15

China’s National People’s Congress approves new foreign investment law obliging officials to protect commercially confidential information obtained from foreign companies. European Union (EU) releases policy paper in which the EU threatens to tighten rules on Chinese investment in Europe, partly in response to Chinese restrictions on EU investment in China. Top United States (US) general Joseph Dunford expresses concern that Google’s work in China directly benefits Chinese military. In response to increasing global criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing calls for American and European firms to join President Xi Jinping’s signature initiative. Toyota Motor now plans to invest $3 billion more than originally planned in the US to avoid increased tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will cease production of two more models at its Sunderland plant due to uncertainties flowing from Brexit. Lotte Group will leave China after failing to recover from the boycotts caused by Beijing’s diplomatic bickering with Seoul over the latter’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. Seoul and Tokyo fail to resolve their frictions flowing from the legal dispute over wartime labor compensation, with Tokyo warning of economic retaliation if Seoul goes ahead with the seizures of Japanese company assets.

MNCs in the News-2019-03-08

China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to consider new draft law on foreign direct investment (FDI) that seeks to provide stronger legal guarantees to overseas investors. About 1/3rd of North American-based corporations on the CNBC Global CFO Council say Chinese companies have stolen their intellectual property (IP) at some point in the past ten years. Mirroring global trends, Chinese FDI in Europe fell drastically in 2018 and a recent survey suggests the European Union (EU)’s new investment screening framework likely will curb Chinese EU mergers and acquisitions even more. Italian economic development ministry official announces Italy is planning to join China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Faced with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s refusal to negotiate, South Korean plaintiffs who won a wartime forced labor case against the company file court request to seize the company’s assets. Toyota Motor Corp. announced last week it may pull out of production in Britain due to the likely increase of tariffs in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Hyundai Motor is considering suspending operations at its Beijing manufacturing plant partly due to plummeting sales and partly due to budding opportunities elsewhere. South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance reports Korea’s OFDI reached a record high in 2018 partly due to Korean companies going abroad to enjoy a better manufacturing environment.

MNCs in the News-2019-03-01

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announces China will keep improving the legal and market environments for foreign investors. United States (US) President Donald Trump recently announced the US has made substantial progress in talks with Beijing on improving its IP protection. American Chamber of Commerce in China survey indicates some positive views about China’s progress in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR), though concerns about profitability and the future are rising. Following the European Parliament’s approval of a mechanism to control foreign investment in strategic sectors, Chinese official calls upon the EU to adopt an open and inclusive attitude towards foreign companies. Per JETRO survey, Japanese parts suppliers in China hit worse by US-China trade frictions than other Japanese firms there. British business secretary will travel to Japan to ask Honda Motors to reconsider its recent decision to shut down Swindon car plant. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company awards South Korea Engineering and Construction contract for USD $1.2 billion underground oil project. South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service will tighten monitoring of foreign firms’ unfair trading practices.

MNCs in the News-2019-02-22

Shanghai municipal government investment measures appear to have enabled the city to maintain strong foreign investment growth despite a challenging environment. BIStel says it will expand its investment in China despite the China-United States trade war because China is its biggest target market. Saudi Arabia’s Aramco signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for investment in major refining and petrochemical investments in Liaoning that may substantially boost energy exports to China. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), Chinese non-financial outbound FDI in 47 countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increased 8.1 percent year-over-year. Despite uncertainties over Brexit, Chinese companies remain interested in investing in the United Kingdom. Tokyo considers backing Russia’s Novatek’s Arctic liquefied natural gas project in the hopes of bolstering Japan’s negotiating position in territorial talks with Moscow. An increasing number of Japanese automakers are leaving or reconsidering their position in the UK as Brexit fast approaches. Seoul expects the second US-North Korea summit to facilitate inter-Korean investment projects including a Korea peninsula rail link. India and South Korea agreed to enhance cooperation in diverse economic areas, including many pertaining to investment.

MNCs in the News-2019-01-11

During a meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated his country welcomes investments from foreign firms and is open to deepening cooperation with them. An official from the Beijing Central Business District (CBD), which is undertaking steps to attract higher quality firms, touts foreign direct investment (FDI)’s contribution to CBD. Chinese merger & acquisition (M&A) activity in the US in 2018 plummets. Rising Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) scrutiny of foreign attempts to purchase minority stakes in American companies has fueled a major drop in Chinese venture funding of United States (US) start-ups. Chinese FDI pours into Latin America as US presence wanes and Latin American technology firms thirst for funding. South Korea President Moon Jae-in accuses Tokyo of politicizing recent court decisions over wartime labor. Meeting with his British counterpart, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo urges the United Kingdom (UK) to avoid a no-deal Brexit. During his New Year Press conference last week, South Korean President Moon reiterated his support for economic cooperation between the two Koreas and called for a lifting of economic sanctions. State-run Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) moves to liquidate overseas resources development projects that generated huge losses for the firm in 2017.

MNCs in the News-2019-01-04

Foreign companies remain cautious about increasing their foreign direct investment (FDI) in China because of the risk of trade war escalation. Multinational corporations (MNCs) in China worry not only about trade war’s impact on sales, but pressures to relocate their factories. China’s National People’s Congress reviews draft law than seems to more aggressively protect foreign investor interests than a previous version. Survey reveals US businesses finding trade war leading them to face increased Chinese non-tariff barriers. China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the Chinese Academy of Social Science have produced a report that central State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are delivering equal employment benefits to Chinese and locals. Attorneys representing former South Korean forced laborers for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal file for the seizure of Nippon Steel assets in Korea. South Korean government will tighten rules on the acquisition of Korean companies by foreign firms to limit technology leaks. Seoul to designate OLED equipment and chemical sector as “national core technologies” to gain influence over their sale and export.

MNCs in the News-2018-11-30

China moving to improve the business environment for foreign companies, especially in Free Trade Zones (FTZs). China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announces that it will permit foreign banks in China to apply for approval for a quota increase in their medium to long-term foreign debt for 2019. Per Donald Trump, the United States may take a bite out of Apple products coming from China which previously have escaped a special 10 percent tariffs on Chinese goods. China’ Huawei finds Kiwis not so soft after New Zealand’s intelligence agency blocks it supplying 5G mobile network equipment to the major domestic telecom provider. Maldives’ new finance minister criticizes true price of Chinese projects, which has led to the Maldives returning to an “India First” policy. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries ordered by South Korea’s Supreme Court to pay USD $365,500 in damages to two groups of South Koreans for forced wartime labor. In post-Carlos Ghosn arrest meeting, France suggests to Japanese official “the head of the Renault-Nissan alliance should be from the French automaker.” European firms with business in South Korea push Seoul to upgrade the country’s business regulations to reach international standards. At the 6th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Connectivity Forum, South Korea’s secretary-general of the ASEAN-Korea Centre states Korea is looking to improve relations with ASEAN countries especially in infrastructure area.

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