Mr. & Mrs. S.H. Wong Center for the Study of Multinational Corporations

MNCs in the News-2019-09-13

Despite the United States (US)-China trade war, renowned economist highlights that US firms continue to remain in China because of the attractiveness of China as well as limits associated with the alternatives. During a meeting with a Japanese business delegation, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang welcomes more Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in China. Although it decreased compared to 2017, Chinese outward FDI in 2018 was the second highest globally after Japan. China is moving to expand “internet plus healthcare” cooperation with BRI countries generally and BRI countries specifically. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether BMW’s Japan subsidiary abused its market power to punish dealers that failed to meet sales quotas. Japan’s trade minister notes South Korea’s filing of a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint will not affect Japan’s export control measures and that it will decide later if it wants consultations. Korean employer and business groups express worries about government plan to ratify parts of International Labor Organization (ILO) convention which they fear will make Korean labor unions more powerful. Head of LG Chem opines that his company’s lawsuit against SK Innovation in the US does not undermine the national interest.

MNCs in the News-2019-09-06

On the eve of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to China, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) reports German foreign direct investment (FDI) in China grew more than 60 percent over the first seven months of 2019 year-over-year. Chinese media delivered some packaged criticisms against FedEx for the latter’s alleged shipments of controlled goods and rerouting of packages destined for Huawei. Relatively small-scale protests took place in three Kazakhstan cities against potentially questionable Chinese factory FDI. The United States (US) concludes declaration with Poland for the rigorous evaluation of foreign suppliers involved in 5G networks which some see as directed at China and Huawei. Nissan considers leaving Korea as Korea-Japan frictions make its challenging situation there even worse. Uniqlo partners with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to support research on labor markets and social security systems in some of its production hubs in South and Southeast Asia. Korean economic difficulties due to frictions with Japan encourages Hyundai union to settle with management without a strike. Korean government official meets with LG Group and SK Group executives to try to get them to resolve trade secrets dispute that LG Chem has brought to the US International Trade Commission.

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-2019-08-23

Exploiting the opening of China’s financial sector, Goldman Sachs moves to increase its ownership stake in its China securities joint venture (JV). The city of Beijing launches a plan to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in VPN services in a trial zone by the end of 2019. Moody’s Investors Service sees the growth of China’s outward FDI slowing or even declining because of increasing global geopolitical and economic risks. To garner Chinese support over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan announces it will set up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority to fast-track Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. Survey shows significant number of polled Japanese firms generally back Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s creation of a stricter export trade regime for goods going to South Korea and feel Japan would prevail in a World Trade Organization case if Seoul filed one. Report shows that Japan became a less important source of materials and components for Korea over the first five months of 2019, though trade deficit patterns remain unchanged. Korean research institute survey reveals many surveyed Korean firms feel Japan’s trade restrictions will affect not just their sales, but also their profits. Korea’s Ministry of the Environment finds Audi Volkswagen Korea and Porsche Korea illegally manipulated vehicle exhaust emissions and penalizes and reports the firms for prosecution.

Dr. Jean-Marc F. Blanchard's picture

The Free Trade Zone that Ate Shanghai

The Shanghai Free Trade Zone (SFTZ) came into being in 2013. Since its birth, it has scored accomplishments such as faster customs processing times and easier business establishment.

MNCs in the News-2019-08-16

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced inward foreign direct investment (FDI) over the first seven months of 2019 grew 7.3 percent over the same period last year. The city of Beijing intends to relax controls over FDI in cultural and entertainment businesses. Chinese FDI into Europe has slowed as a result of economic uncertainties and trade frictions. A survey suggests Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia are the top three Asian countries presenting the best opportunities for participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Japanese firms in Hong Kong are becoming cautious given tumultuous situation there. Japan alerts new Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister that talk of renegotiating power purchase agreements raises risks. Korean lawmakers contemplate limiting Korea Investment Corp.’s ability to invest in Japanese companies with ties to wartime forced labor. Korean consumer boycott of Japanese goods and services produces decline in imports of Japanese goods of 14 percent over the same period the prior year.

MNCs in the News-2019-08-09

To cope with United States (US) tariffs on Chinese goods, several prominent Japanese firms operating in China are planning to relocate some of their manufacturing to other Asian countries. China’s State Council has expanded the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ), adding an area called Lingang area which is supposed to become a business cluster for international businesses and cross-border financial services. The China-US trade war has driven two large Chinese consumer health care companies to seek to cooperate with/invest in Malaysia’s largest generic drug maker to grow their manufacturing base in Malaysia. China’s Zhong Ji Mining froze operations at its gold mine in Kyrgyzstan after 20 people were hurt in clashes between local protesters and Chinese workers. Tokyo touts that it had approved the export of a sensitive chemical to Korea, the first since it intensified export controls in July. Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister reports Japan’s Daihastu Motor “would provide ‘advanced technological support’” for Malaysia’s third national car company. A Korean National Labor Relations Commission decision to freeze the ongoing arbitration between GM Korea and its labor union means the labor union now has the legal right to strike. Due to Seoul’s decision in 2018 to have all public enterprises sell their overseas assets,” Korea Resources Corp. has been pursuing the sale of its Cobre Panama copper mine, albeit unsuccessfully.

MNCs in the News-2019-08-01

China has opened the upstream exploration of its oil and natural gas resources by foreign investors by scrapping joint venture (JV) restrictions. In the first half of the year, the top geographic destination for Chinese inward foreign direct investment (FDI) continued to be Jiangsu, which attracted large amounts of inward FDI (FDI) in emerging industries from countries like Great Britain. Cross-border investments between China and the United States (US) totaled $13 billion in the first half of 2019, dropping to a five-year low due to the trade war and other factors. In 2018, Chinese investors poured money into Indian start-ups due to the latter’s more affordable labor market and fast economic growth. Japan’s Cabinet approves removal of South Korea from its so-called white list with Seoul promising retaliation. Fears of a more stringent review process flowing from current tensions lead Hyundai Heavy Industries to delay filing for an antitrust review in regard to its planned takeover of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Seoul organizes information events for Korean companies that might be affected by Tokyo’s decision to remove Korea from its “whitelist,” with Korean firms complaining the initiatives are “‘unhelpful and belated.’” SK Innovation contemplates supplying electric vehicle (EV) battery separators to its Korean competitors because this could aid Korean businesses confronting Japanese export restrictions on EV battery separators.

Dr. Jean-Marc F. Blanchard's picture

Banking Blowups, the US-China Trade War, and Implications for China’s Financial Sector Reform

In my March blog, I expressed skepticism about China’s financial sector reform due to Beijing’s myriad political and economic reasons for maintaining control of the banking, insurance, and securities sectors.

MNCs in the News-2019-07-26

China’s Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology said the relocation of foreign companies due to the United States (US)-China trade war is “limited and under control.” China opens financial sector to overseas firms while moving to minimize risks confronting the sector. US Senator Joe Manchin raises alarm about 2017 USD $83.7 billion-dollar investment deal in West Virginia. Malaysia and China agree to resume Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) following an agreement to cut the project’s cost by about one-third. Major Japanese firms sign on to 30% Club, a global initiative aiming to put more women in top leadership positions globally. US National Security Advisor John Bolton says US does not intend to mediate Japan-South Korea forced labor and trade conflict. South Korean distributors of Japanese goods in South Korea suffering from boycott. Trade conflicts around the global are driving South Korean chaebol to invest in the US to escape the problems associated with these disputes.

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