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Dr. Jean-Marc F. Blanchard's picture

Dashing for the Door Due to Dealing in Data or Singapore Sling

The recent passage of the National Security Law for Hong Kong has raised all kinds of quandaries for high-technology and other companies, especially those that deal in data. This is so because the new law makes it easier for government authorities to access data, restrict the kinds of content that are published, and control the transmission of data. In the event of noncompliance with (vague and likely fluid) regulations, firms risk significant fines, imprisonment, or other sanctions. There has been a mild reaction by big firms such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, but they are not located in Hong Kong per se and their longer-term plans are unclear. Businesses actually located in Hong Kong face a serious quandary.

MNCs in the News-2020 May

China’s recently issued Guideline regarding its economy contains numerous favorable, albeit general, offerings for foreign direct investment (FDI). To retaliate against United States (US) exports controls against Huawei, China readies itself to add US companies to an “unreliable entity list” which may subject them to various sanctions. US Chamber of Commerce decries potentially excessive measures by US government to move supply chains away from China. United Kingdom looks to reduce Huawei involvement in its 5G network with Huawei potentially being removed from all telecommunications infrastructure by 2023. Chinese contractors plan to make substantial progress on Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail over the balance of 2020. US pressure influences Israel to reject Hong Kong firm’s bid on strategically located, large-scale desalination plant. Japan categorizes firms into three groups as part of its effort to clarify what review processes apply to FDI pursuant to its Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. New Japanese law requires technology companies operating e-commerce websites and apps to submit annual reports, notifications of contract changes, and establish complaint processes. In quest for supply chain resiliency, Japan will provide subsides to encourage Japanese firms to return to Japan or move to Southeast Asia. Realized inward FDI into Korea in the first quarter 2020 plunges over similar period last year due to shorter worker hours, higher minimum wages, and other factors. South Korean parliament passes legislation that likely forces content providers to share network costs with local internet service providers. US support for the Economic Prosperity Network raises fears among Korean companies they will be pushed to shift FDI to the US. Korean firm to make huge investment in UAE pipeline as part of its consortium’s winning bid.

MNCS in the News-2020-01-31

The coronavirus is affecting the operations of numerous multinational corporations (MNCs) in China, though many remain hopeful about the longer-term and are not overreacting. The former Chairman of China’s Sinopec opined that Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in sensitive areas and big deals would be avoided due to the contemporary political environment. Chinese firms win railway tenders in Namibia, where they already have a noteworthy presence. Japanese Diet bill proposes requiring major technology firms, foreign and domestic, to report annually to Japanese authorities on practices like data collection and also to establish complaint procedures. Due to the coronavirus, Toyota Motors suspends operations in China pending further review. South Korea seeks to create a better environment for domestic and foreign startups to promote growth. South Korean FDI in the US hits USD $10 billion for the fourth consecutive as relatively higher growth rates and lower taxes prove attractive.

MNCs in the News-2019-12-06

Per Chinese media, the Chinese government is on the verge of promulgating its “unreliable entities” list which will identify foreign companies that may be subject to sanctions. Beijing municipality moves to open its service sector to a wide variety of firms, though limitations will remain in some areas. Pledged foreign direct investment (FDI) from China into Vietnam surges to record levels over first 11 months of 2019. Online survey suggests that individuals in major Latin American countries have a generally positive view of Chinese FDI, though Japanese and German firms rank higher. Japan’s Internal Affairs Ministry proposes public-private team involving foreign and domestic players to develop mechanisms to fight fake news. Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) survey finds Japanese companies overseas increasingly pessimistic about effect of global events on their revenues. United States (US) chip firm Qualcomm fails to win overturning of record anti-monopoly fine by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC and will take its case to Korean Supreme Court. SK Innovation, spurred by changing Chinese government policies regarding electric vehicle (EV) batteries, increasing EV manufacturing presence in China.

MNCs in the News-2019-11-22

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issues new negative list for market access. Despite trade war with United States (US) and slowing economic growth, China witnesses solid inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows for 1st 10th months of 2019. FDI in China’s insurance sector shows notable developments in 2019. All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese encourages overseas Chinese businesspeople to get involvement in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Japan’s Diet passes new investment law that tighten review criteria for inward FDI. Japanese firms may not see worse repercussions from Japan-South Korea political frictions. South Korea Fair Trade Commission (FTC) to create special task force to examine potential unfair business practices by domestic and foreign technology companies. Korea will leverage Korea-ASEAN 2019 Smart City Fair to promote Korean business involvement in smart city development.

MNCs in the News-2019-11-08

China’s Ministry of Justice promulgates draft implementation rules for the country’s new foreign direct investment (FDI) law which contains a lot of positive news regarding intellectual property rights (IPR) and trade secrets. China rejects European Chamber of Commerce claims about the possibility of “promise fatigue.” China’s State Council issues 20 opinions with a strong emphasis on breaking down foreign entry and operating barriers in the banking, securities, and fund management sectors. Consultancy reports that China’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity jumped in 3rd quarter of 2019 versus 2nd, though it remained far under the highs of 2014. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission survey points out a number of internet giant practices that may violate the country’s anti-monopoly law. The United Kingdom’s Brexit is affecting an increasing amount of Japanese there such as by forcing them to develop alternative supply chains. China’s move to end subsidy programs for electric vehicles may give South Korean companies in China new business opportunities. South Korea’s Alliex partners with Vietnam’s Central on cashless payment system in Korea.

MNCs in the News-2019-09-20

Despite falling global foreign direct investment (FDI), China continues to show strength in attracting inward FDI (IFDI). Shanghai continues to be a magnet not only for IFDI, but also for regional headquarters and research and development facilities. The United States (US) has issued a regulation that will give the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States new powers to scrutinize FDI which many believe are directed at China. US Senators send Federal Communications Commission a letter asking it to review the operating licenses of Chinese telecommunications providers in the US. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) pushes Internet companies “to create a system to eliminate fake news and discriminatory postings.” Regarding Korea’s recent filing of a World Trade Organization complaint related to Japanese export controls, Japan has agreed to consultations. Korea FTC to decide if it will accept Apple Korea’s pledge to fix its alleged illegal collection of advertising fees from mobile carriers. Korea Electric Power Corp.’s coal mine development project in New South Wales rejected by Australia’s Independent Evaluation Committee.

MNCs in the News-2019-08-30

China’s plan to apply its social-credit system to foreign companies is raising concerns about possible abuses. China’s State Council announces it will establish pilot free trade zones (FTZs) in Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi Zhuang, Yunnan, Hebei, and Heilongjiang. United States (US) companies likely to stay in China despite trade war, a problematic regulatory environment, and US President Donald Trump’s call for them to leave. Although frictions over maritime issues remain unsettled, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposes joint oil & gas development in Reed Bank area to visiting Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte. Japan is paying more attention to tax shifting activities by high-tech companies and has recently forced Facebook to pay more in taxes for some questionable tax shifting activities. After the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), Japan and 53 African countries signed the Yokohama declaration which stressed “‘quality infrastructure investment.’” South Korea’s new policy for network fees has led to frictions with Facebook and service problems that led to fines which Facebook fought successfully in court. The Korea Startup Forum, the Korea Internet Corporations Association, and local and foreign content providers have called upon the South Korean government “to completely overhaul its network fee calculation structure.”

MNCs in the News-2019-07-19

Reports suggest that following intensifying China-United States (US) trade frictions, a growing number of foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) are considering moving their manufacturing out of China. At a recent China State Council meeting, officials state China aims to provide better intellectual property rights (IPR) protections and that it will treat domestic and foreign firms equally. China courts Japan’s involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) purportedly to improve the BRI’s image. Bangladesh works to calm foreign investors in the wake of a violent clash between local and Chinese workers at the Chinese-invested Payra thermal power plant. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) moves forward on guidelines to regular IT giants’ use of personal data without consent. Korea preparing plan to “‘to reduce the country’s dependence on Japan’s materials, components and equipment industries.’” Korean firms threatened by possibility that Japan will “remove Korea from its export white list.” Hyundai Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor America have requested the US International Trade Commission to start an investigation against four auto part importers.

MNCs in the News-2019-05-24

China’s Cyberspace Administration releases draft document stating, “operators of the country’s critical information infrastructure…will be required to take into account national security risk when purchasing foreign products and services.” A recent European Union (EU) Chamber of Commerce in China survey suggests the problem of forced technology transfers in China has worsened. The US is considering cutting off the flow of American technology to five other Chinese firms putatively because of these companies’ role in supporting Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang. With the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aiming to become a major China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner, China’s East Hope Group conglomerate contemplates $10 billion port investment there. China’s chargé d'affaires in London warns if Huawei banned from Britain’s 5G network there might be “substantial” repercussions for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United Kingdom (UK). The Japan unit of US e-commerce giant Amazon has decided to stop direct sales of all Huawei products through its online store. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. said it will tighten standards for lending to coal-fired power plants with high emissions of CO2. Renault Samsung workers in Korea reject draft wage and bargaining agreement which may lead to an “indefinite all-out strike” that drives the joint venture’s upcoming XM3 production to Spain. Iraq’s Ministry of Petroleum awards Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction a $2.45 billion contract to build a seawater supply facility in Iraq.

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