China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) reported that inward foreign direct investment (FDI) over the first seven months of 2018 grew 5.5 percent year-over-year (YOY) with strong growth in inward FDI (IFDI) in high-tech industries. MOFCOM noted that there was major growth in IFDI from countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), South Korea, and Japan over the first seven months of 2018 YOY. Hundreds of Google employees raise concerns internally about the firm’s plans to produce a censored search engine for China. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) takes over Total’s stake in Iran’s South Pars Phase II project as Total must abandon it due to re-imposition of United States (US) sanctions. Japanese regulators investigating Apple over allegations that it unfairly pressured Yahoo Japan to slow the expansion of online games platform. Japan makes economic cooperation with the Indo-Pacific region a diplomatic priority in attempt to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. South Korea places ban on over 20,000 BMWs after more than 30 engines caught fire this year due to faulty hardware. South Korean Prime Minister calls for increased cooperation with Qatar especially in infrastructure projects.
China responds to United States (US) World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint that its technology licensing practices are not WTO compliant. Washington considers new mechanisms for reviewing and limiting Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) into the US technology sector. The Head of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board welcomes Chinese FDI as the country moves to improve its ability to minimize any related security threats. Takeda considering takeover of Irish drugmaker Shire as Japanese government seeks to tackle rising healthcare costs for its aging population. Softbank Vision Fund and Saudi Arabia to boost solar production in the Arab country. Tirebank intends to acquire Korean company Kumho Tire from Korea Development Bank because of frictions between Kumho’s workers union and Chinese buyer Doublestar. Renegotiation of South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement causes Hyundai to move production of its new pick-up truck model from Korea to the US. Pertamina reports it secured a contract with the Iranian government to take an 80 percent stake in Mansouri oil field. Jakarta put forth simplified tax holiday scheme in bid to boost investment in the country. Thailand approves USD $7.22 billion high-speed rail project to link three airports. Japanese electric vehicle producers flocking to Thailand in the wake of government promotion packages. Joint venture between Malaysia’s Yinson Holdings and PetroVietnam ordered to stop operations in Vietnamese offshore oil field due to Chinese pressure. InvestKL on track to bring in 100 multinational corporations by 2020. Hanoi announces list of sectors that would be prioritized to receive Japanese high-technology and investment. New Franco-Vietnamese investment deals signed as Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary visits France.
2018 China Business Climate Survey Report indicates "American companies overwhelmingly feel less welcome than before…and want the U.S. government to put more pressure on Beijing." American jury finds Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel of stealing trade secrets that cost American Superconductor Inc. $800 million. Australia tightens rules relating to sale of power and agricultural assets to foreign investors. United Arab Emirates' state-owned Abu Dhabi Oil Company to expand partnerships with Japanese petrochemical companies. Muji's China subsidiary maps out new catalog strategy after Beijing criticizes its portrayal of boundaries. POSCO E&C withdraws from project to build steel mill in Iran because of high political tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Samsung Engineering resolves conflict with Omani government over USD $1 billion construction deal with Oman's state-owned refinery company Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company. Pertamina awards USD $10 billion refinery project to consortium of Omani and Japanese businesses. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group proposes to merge its Indonesian subsidiary with local Indonesian lender to take advantage of Jakarta's banking consolidation drive. Royal Dutch Shell sells control of Thai Bongkot gas field to Thailand's state-owned gas producer PTT Exploration and Production for USD $750 million after failed effort to sell to non-Thai buyer. Thailand's largest state-owned petrochemical company PTT Global Chemical partners with Korea's Daelim Industrial to build USD $5.7 billion petrochemical plant in Ohio. Alibaba Group partnering with Malaysian Government's Digital Economy Corporation to set up artificial intelligence traffic system in capital. Malaysia's state-owned oil company Petronas acquired 6 oil and gas blocks for undisclosed amount from Mexican government in recent auction. Four foreign investors registered to become strategic investors in Vietnam's GENCO 3 as the Hanoi seeks to offload shares of the company. PetroVietnam Gas looking to gain Hanoi's approval to divest 30 percent of its stock to a foreign strategic investor.
On November 18 and 19, 2017, the "Political Economy of China's Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI), Africa, and the Middle East" conference was held in Shanghai, China. The conference, orchestrated and co-sponsored by the Mr. & Mrs. S.H.
Beijing’s actions to curb overseas foreign direct investment (FDI) by private firms coupled with other factors generate uncertainty among potential Western investment targets. American credit/debit card companies Visa and MasterCard move to gain access to China market, but licensing uncertainties remain. Nissan to sell battery subsidiary to Chinese private equity firm, following recent Chinese government policy changes on purchase of batteries for electric vehicles. Facing pressure to invest in US, Toyota and Mazda plan USD $1.6 billion partnership to establish US based electric vehicle production plant. SK Engineering & Construction Co. announces deal to upgrade Iranian oil plant, reflecting Teheran’s bid to bring in foreign companies to boost its oil industry. Daewoo Engineering & Construction and Samsung Engineering win mega construction projects in Oman. Vale Indonesia experiencing difficulties finding nickel smelter partners for new investments after rule change. Indonesian President courting China for investment but concurrently preparing the military for potential confrontation. EXIM Thailand plans to open new branches in Cambodia and Laos to support outward FDI by Thai firms. China and Malaysia launch USD $13 billion rail project connecting peninsular Malaysia's East and West. Mitsubishi’s CEO tells Vietnamese Prime Minster it plans to produce electric vehicles in Vietnam. Long Son Petrochemical Co Ltd announces Hyundai Engineering and Construction won building contract for petrochemical plant in Vietnam.
Donald Trump administration contemplates using Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act to challenge China’s technology transfer and intellectual property right protection practices. Foreign businesses increasingly fret about the burdens to be flowing from China’s rejection of non-approved virtual private networks (VPNs) and other data controls/restrictions. China’s Ministry of Finance issues a guideline to limit risk of overseas investments by state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Foxconn Technology Group announces major planned investment in the United States (US) to do R&D work relating to self-driving vehicles perhaps due to Trump’s efforts to bring more manufacturing to the US. Workers at Nissan’s Mississippi factory vote on whether to join the United Auto Workers. Japan’s JFE Holdings Inc. considers further investment into India’s JSW Steel Ltd as a way to profit from increased steel demand potentially flowing from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s economic plans. South Korean firms struggle in the Middle East due to government indifference and rising political tensions. South Korea’s LA Cable & System signs USD $195 million contract with Qatar’s state owned utilities firm. Jakarta focuses on simplifying investment application process for foreign firms seeking investment licenses. Indonesia’s government will start taking bids in September for construction of six massive geothermal power plants. Thailand and Australia discuss revising the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement to increase investment and trade. Indian Oil Corp Ltd in talks with partners to search for cheaper location for Pacific Northwest LNG terminal after recent withdrawal of Petronas. South Korea’s Lotte signs Eco-Smart city development contract with Vietnam’s People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam’s Prime Minister confirms that creation of Vietnam’s first three special economic zones would enjoy special rules to attract greater investment.
China’s Global Times touts that China remains a popular investment destination for foreign investors. China delays the implementation of a cybersecurity law rule on cross-border data movement for 18 months. Surging Chinese investment in Malaysia is oriented towards the construction sector and creates many, albeit low-skilled, jobs. Qatar may force Japanese companies out of investments in Qatar Petroleum projects. Japanese corporations increasingly partnering with South Korean firms in establishing overseas projects. Hyundai Engineering wins USD $890 million power plant deal in Malaysia. Samsung Heavy Industries snares multi-billion dollar LNG facility construction contract off Mozambique. Jakarta plans to ease business for investors operating in special economic zones. Malaysia and China to organize meetings on construction of three new ports and Bandar Malaysia project. Survey shows this year’s Japanese investment in Malaysia may rise by at least 30 percent. Vietnamese lawmakers call for public private partnerships to attract investment in railway sector. Vietnam’s Prime Minister says time is ripe for American companies to further engage in economic restructuring of his country
China’s State Council creates seven new free trade zones bringing the total number in the country to 11. China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) pushes foreign businesses to support its efforts to limit capital outflows from China. Prior to Donald Trump-Xi Jinping meeting, Chinese parliamentarian links the quality of the meeting to Google’s prospects for entering China. European Union regulators approve China National Chemical Corporations (ChemChina)’s massive acquisition of Syngenta while requiring some significant divestitures. Trump administration considers some dramatic steps to keep Westinghouse’s nuclear business out of Chinese hands. Sibanye Gold Ltd.’s proposed investment in Stillwater mining may not be golden because of American concerns over strategic materials access. Iran-Japan Investment Treaty enters into force on April 26 and may spur Japanese energy investment in Iran. Japanese foreign acquisitions hit a new record of almost USD $100 billion in fiscal year 2016, but performance is dubious. South Korea’s installation of the THAAD system continues to affect adversely Sino-Korean economic relations and Korean businesses. The fallout between China and South Korea over THAAD contributes to South Korean car manufacturers reducing production in their Chinese factories. Consortium of Chinese and Indonesian companies signs contract launching the construction phase of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train project. Afghan President Ghani encourages Indonesian investors to invest in Afghanistan and stresses the security of foreign investors as a top government priority. Tier-one American aerospace manufacturer may invest in Malaysia stimulating business for small and medium enterprises and creating high-income jobs. India and Malaysia sign investment deals with a value of USD $36 billion. Belgium plans to ramp up green energy investment in Vietnam.
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (United States) has called for global action in the face of China’s Made in China 2025 plan. Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) official defends his country’s “Made in China 2025” plan. China’s Food and Drug Administration issues draft policy that would allow foreign drugs to be tested and approved much more quickly in China. During a visit to China, Apple CEO Tim Cook announces Apple will open new R&D centers in Shanghai and Suzhou. Microsoft touts the development of a China-specific Windows 10 operating system that is “secure and controllable.” Chinese government agencies are working on a policy that would specify those sectors where outward foreign direct investment (FDI) was encouraged and those where it was restricted. Tokyo says it does not plan to support troubled Toshiba and that it will share information with Washington about Toshiba and its bankrupt US nuclear division. Japanese and Russian officials meet to discuss ways to jointly develop the islands off Hokkaido they both claim. South Korea asks the World Trade Organization to review Chinese sanctions against Korean companies relating to its deployment of THAAD. South Korea’s SK Engineering & Constructions partners with Turkey’s UNIT International to win multi-billion dollar power plant construction project in Iran. Energy firms urge Indonesian government to enhance its policies in the upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors.
Facebook’s efforts in China fail to deliver an opening. Japan’s Marubeni will build and manage one of the world’s largest mega solar power plants in the world in the United Arab Emirates. Japanese, Chinese, and Korean firms win multi-billion dollar contracts to improve and expand the capacity of Iranian oil facilities. Korean firms win main Turkish bridge building contract. South Korean firm Daewoo E&C re-signs road project in Qatar that might provide a beachhead for 2022 FIFA World Cup deals.