European Commission

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Italy Signs on to the Belt and Road Initiative

In late March 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Rome, where he met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who signed a memorandum of understanding pursuant to which Italy signed on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), making it the first Group-7 country to do so.

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-2019-02-15

Per China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in January increased 4.8 percent versus the prior period in 2018. Despite United States (US)-China trade dispute, in January, China’s IFDI from the US increased 126.8 percent compared to the same period in 2018. European Parliament revamps European Union (EU) investment screening mechanism to give European Commission power to review deals, though ultimate decision making remains with EU states. U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission highlights personal and national security risks from Chinese investors taking stakes in American biotech companies. Israel will create an interagency body to oversee sensitive commercial deals partly to ensure foreign investments, above all by China, do not damage its ties with the US. Japanese and South Korean businesses fret about the impact of heightened tensions between the two governments relating to history and recent naval encounters. Per reports, following Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s visit to Tokyo last year, major Japanese companies invested hundreds of millions in Malaysia. Russia will take more steps to support Koreans firms doing business in Russia’s Far East. South Korea and Austria move to expand cooperation as Austria seeks Korean help to become a 5G leader in Europe.

MNC in the News-2019-02-01

A German Chamber of Commerce in China (AHK) survey makes clear German companies are concerned by China’s slow progress in resolving persistent problems facing foreign direct investment (FDI). European Commission considering taking action to prevent EU businesses from using 5G mobile networks provided by any country or company suspected of using its equipment for spying or sabotage. In 2018, Chinese firms were the biggest buyers of overseas mining assets, especially minerals needed for clean energy technologies and electric car batteries. French President Emmanuel Macron tells Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he is worried about Carlos Ghosn’s jail conditions and suggests Tokyo intervene in the selection of Nissan’s new chairman. Japanese lawmakers call for Japanese government to take a stronger stance against South Korea on historical disputes pertaining to Japanese companies. Seoul will focus on attracting foreign companies with high-end technologies by offering better incentives and fewer regulations. Rising trade barriers and a poor local economic situation are pushing an increasing number of Korean manufacturers abroad.

MNCs in the News-2018-06-01

China’s inward foreign direct investment (FDI) shows growth with especially impressive growth in high-tech areas like medical equipment manufacturing. Slew of political factors conspiring to dampen Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) to the United States (US). European parliament pushing increased reviews of FDI, partly due to surge of Chinese OFDI in Europe. China’s first report on central state-owned enterprises (SOEs) corporate social responsibility (CSR) argues their efforts go unnoticed and that they are doing a good job in environmental protection. Japanese contractors blindsided by Malaysia’s decision to scrap planned USD $14.8 billion high-speed rail link from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Government representatives of China, Japan and Thailand announce intentions to pursue business collaboration in Eastern Economic Corridor. General Motors’ $7 billion rescue plan for South Korean plants in jeopardy because of threat of Trump tariffs on foreign cars and car parts. Hanwha Q CELLS Korea signs memorandum of understanding with Whitfield County government to construct solar module production facility. Mahathir announces reconsideration of terms of USD $14 billion rail deal involving Chinese partners to prioritize reducing country’s ballooning national debt. Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas to become second-largest partner in Canadian liquefied natural gas export project by buying 25 percent stake.

MNCs in the News-2018-03-09

China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) states China will improve noticeably market access and operating conditions for foreign direct investment (FDI) this year. American Chamber of Commerce in South China reports that number one concern of American businesses in China because of the is China's cybersecurity law. European Union (EU) may adopt legislation relating to inward FDI this year as a result of rising security concerns especially where Chinese FDI involved. Beijing's controls on outward Chinese FDI do not dent Fosun acquisition spree in clothing and luxury goods areas. Nissan in talks with Renault to acquire bulk of French state's 15 percent Renault stake. Japanese companies still waiting to see what happens with Great Britain's EU Brexit negotiations before deciding how to react to Brexit. GM Korea to ask Korean government to make its Korean factory sites foreign investment zones so it can get tax concessions. Doublestar reaches agreement with Korea Development Bank on purchase of 45 percent stake in Kumho Tire as union protests continue. Jakarta makes it easier to invest in energy and mineral sector by reducing regulations and licensing burdens. Prudential in talks with Malaysia's second largest pension fund to sell 30 percent stake in Malaysian unit following Malaysian central bank move to reduce foreign investment stakes. Telekom Malaysia signs memorandum of understanding with Huawei to work together on expanding fiber broadband network reach in Malaysia. Vietnam revokes investment license for foreign-owned oil refinery project. Legal expert says that foreign investors are interested in developing infrastructure projects in Vietnam including the North-South highway but hesitate because of legal problems.

MNCs in the News-2017-09-15

China’s potentially massive electric car market and regulatory pressure charge up foreign auto firms’ willingness to share technology and invest in the sector. China plans to blacklist and potentially punish blacklisted Chinese outward investors that become “discreditable.” National security concerns lead American President Donald Trump to crunch Lattice chip’s sale to Chinese buyer. The European Commission has come up with a pan-European measure to vet Chinese investments in the European Union (EU). Thailand’s military junta assures Japanese investors proposed plan for USD $45 billion injection into Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor will go ahead regardless of the results of the next election. Suzuki Motor partnering with Toshiba and Denso to invest in electric vehicle facilities in India in line with the latter’s “Make in India” initiative and increasing demand for green mobility. Hyundai releases plans for electric vehicle manufacturing plant in India after Indian government pledges to ban sales of non-EV cars by 2030. South Korean retail giant Lotte Group has begun making plans to sell its China shops due to politically-related pressures in China. Asian Development Bank to support Indonesia’s energy sector. China’s expanded investment in Thailand raises local anxieties. The divestment of numerous Vietnamese SOEs has problematic features that discourage foreign investment. Southern Vietnamese province promoting investment in several industrial sectors through policy reforms and other initiatives.

MNCs in the News-2017-02-24

Capital outflow limits and consumer sector investment liberalization measures affect both the volume and sectoral distribution of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into China. Chinese restrictions on capital outflows are affecting how sellers perceive Chinese investors. Members of the US Congress are looking to empower the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US to scrutinize Chinese investors more rigorously. The European Commission launches an investigation of planned Chinese high-speed railway project connecting Hungary and Serbia. Uncertainties surrounding Trump Administration policies are making Japanese firms, with the exception of auto firms, cautious about investing in the US. Suzuki Motor Corporation obtains incentives that will cause it to expand its investment in Pakistan. Lotte is explicitly warned by China not to meet the South Korean government’s demand for land for its THAAD system. South Korea’s SKC Ltd. and Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals- Mitsui Chemicals & SKC Polyurethanes Inc. (MCNS) will set up a facility in India to produce polyurethanes. Freeport-McMoRan threatens to sue the Indonesian government if they do not resolve their dispute over Freeport’s obligations. Indonesia solicits Saudi investment, especially in non-oil and non-gas sectors.

MNCs in the News-2016-12-23

American firms fret that Trump’s stances on China trade and Taiwan may lead China to retaliate against them. Chinese firm drops contract with Korean software and platform provider due to sensitivities about Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD system. Foreign decision makers strongly distrust Chinese state-owned enterprises where merger and acquisition deals are concerned. China retorts those critics arguing One Belt, One Road is a massive dumping scheme do not understand the idea of a double circulation economy. Japan is moving to force foreign pharmaceutical product prices to undergo annual reviews. Softbank pledges $1 billion investment in United States (US) as a partial fulfillment of a commitment made to US president-elect Trump. Russia, Japan, and many private companies strike new deals leading to cooperation possibilities in new areas. Japanese firms still intrigued by opportunities in the United Kingdom (UK) despite Brexit. The UK and Japan glow about a major nuclear cooperation agreement. The European Commission has fined Sony Corp., Panasonic Corp., and Sanyo Electric Co. regarding rechargeable lithium-ion battery price fixing. Investment in South Korea’s free economic zones is soaring but below prior highs. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. wins two orders including one from Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, the latter’s first post sanction order. Indonesia and Google fail to come to a settlement about Google’s alleged tax underpayments. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha orders mine operated by Australian gold miner Kingsgate subsidiary Akara Resources to shut down for health and environmental reasons. Vietnam’s inward FDI hits new low for the year.

MNCs in the News-2016-10-28

Chinese outward foreign direct investment (FDI) exceeds inward FDI (IFDI) by an increasing amount in September and for the first nine months of 2016. Chinese companies embrace diverse strategies to ensure host country stakeholders embrace their investments. ChemChina’s interactions with the European Union (EU) over its Syngenta acquisition raise new uncertainties about the deal. Chinese FDI flows into Germany now are almost double what they were for the prior ten years! Businesses from the Philippines glom in large numbers onto President Roberto Duterte mid-October trip to China. China Everbright Ltd. CEO criticizes the motives behind some COFDI. Toyota is waiting for news from the United Kingdom (UK) about the post-Brexit tariff situation before making any decisions about future investments in the UK. Despite Brexit, Nissan opts to built its new Qashqai model in the United Kingdom (UK). Japanese firm wins new contract work for Delhi-Mumbai freight railway. Marubeni and Sojitz win multi-billion dollar gas-fired power plant station contract in Indonesia. Korea Electric Power Corporation signs mega-contract to operate four UAE nuclear power plants that it also will build. FDI flows into Indonesia increased 7.8 in the third quarter year over year (YOY). Japanese firms show increasing confidence in increasing their investments in Indonesia. FDI flows into Thailand increase minimally, reflecting limited confidence in the country’s growth prospects. Foreign technology firms push Thailand to undertake various measures to maintain and advanced its status as a “digital nation.” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will focus on getting more Chinese investment during his trip to China. PowerChina International, Shenzhen Yantian Port Group, and Rizhao Port Group will work with Malaysia on a deep sea port in the Strait of Malacca.

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