China’s Ministry of Commerce reports that inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in January reflected a small increase over the same period last year, with South Korea’s inward FDI (IFDI) surging and IFDI in medical equipment and instrumentation showing strong increases. Foreign businesses seem attracted by the Greater Bay Area’s promise of market opportunities and ongoing market liberalization, though policy, legal, and regulatory barriers still deter/concern some. The coronavirus’s adverse effect on the movement of goods within and outside China has affected some Belt and Road Initiative projects. Chinese contractors in Indonesia reject foreign media reports coronavirus has had a significant adverse impact on the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project. Japan issues new rules relating to FDI screening in the wake of the passage of its Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. Japan’s Shimizu and Indonesian state-owned enterprise form joint venture to extend Jakarta’s mass transit system. Korea’s LG Chem wins default judgement from United States (US) International Trade Commission regarding its lawsuit against SK Innovation for violating its electric vehicle rechargeable battery trade secrets. Korea’s Samsung faces Iranian retaliation for restricting Galaxy stores app services to Iranian users.
China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) makes it yet easier for foreign banks to set up and expand in China. China’s Ministry of Resources moves to lubricate the way for greater foreign direct investment (FDI) in energy exploration and extraction in China. Chinese outward FDI in North America and Europe plummeted in 2019 for multiple reasons. China ranked as Cambodia’s largest source of FDI in 2019. Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) is preparing a guidebook on the registration process for investment management, investment advisory, and related businesses to boost Tokyo’s status as a financial capital. Iranian action against United States (US) troops in Iraq led various Japan companies to send staff out of Iran and limit travel to Iran and/or Iraq. Korea’s inward FDI in 2019 dropped notably versus the highs of 2018, though the second half of 2019 was relatively promising versus the 1st half. Korean construction firms have gone on high alert due to the tensions in the Middle East and the Korean government is mobilized to help such businesses.
China Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman rejects claim that Beijing is forcing American companies to abandon their values. China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has put forth the specific timetable when 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) stakes in brokerages, futures, and fund management companies will be allowed. United States (US) Senator Marco Rubio has sent a letter to the US Department of the Treasury requesting a national security review of China’s Beijing ByteDance Technology Co.’s acquisition of Musical.ly. US sanctions may have driven China National Petroleum Corporation’s dismissal from Iran’s South Pars field Phase 11 project. Japan and South Korea will soon have consultations relating to South Korea’s World Trade Organization case against Japanese export controls. Pressure from international institutions and business considerations are driving Japanese firms to pay more attention to corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues in their Southeast Asian supply chains. Korea witnesses growth in inward FDI for the first time in five quarters, with strength in new industrial sectors. Samsung Electronics contemplate major semiconductor FDI in Xian despite poor macro-political and economic conditions because of needs of Chinese government and customers.
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