World Trade Organization

MNCs in the News-2020-02-14

JPMorgan (China) intends to assume full ownership of all its mainland China operations by 2021 to take advantage of China’s financial sector opening. Chinese regulators approve United States (US) credit card firm Mastercard Inc.’s application to establish a bankcard clearing house joint venture. Peter Navarro urges the US to reduce its reliance on Chinese pharmaceutical and medical supplies. New US regulations expanding the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) with respect to the review of foreign direct investment (FDI) have gone into effect, with notable implications for Chinese FDI in the US. Coronavirus impact on supply chains and production in China accelerates move already occurring because of US-China trade war and rising labor costs in China. Japan is excluded from list of countries exempted from new CFIUS review ambit, but this may change. Merger of Korean shipbuilding giants potentially affected by Japanese filing of World Trade Organization petition, charging illegal subsidies. Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction wins mega-deal to build a beltway in Kazakhstan.

MNCs in the News-2020-02-07

China’s Ministry of Commerce pushes Chinese Chambers of Commerce to provide force majeure certificates to Chinese firms struggling to meet their contractual obligations due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Wuhan Institute of Virology move to apply for a patent to use United States (US) firm Gilead’s remdesivir to treat pneumonia like symptoms raises intellectual property issues. Huawei’s Chief Representative to European Union (EU) institutions says the firm will build 5G manufacturing bases in Europe. US Attorney General Bill Barr advocates US and its allies taking controlling stakes in Nokia, Ericsson, or both to fend off Huawei 5G challenge. Japan’s Ministry of Defense reveals two new Japanese defense-related companies that suffered cyberattacks, without stating if classified information was leaked. Japanese company plans to cope with Brexit subject to change depending upon trade negotiations between the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU. Japan files petition with the World Trade Organization to challenge planned merger between Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Panama re-awards Metro Line 3 to Korean consortium, rejecting challenges from Chinese firms and a consortium with a Chinese company.

MNCs in the News-2019-10-11

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.

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-2019-09-13

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-2019-08-23

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.

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.

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-2019-07-12

Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into China continue to grow, especially in the high-tech sector. Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) official states that Inward FDI (IFDI) is not leaving China en masse and that China will “protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors.” Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) to Europe and North America over the first six months of 2019 shows a noticeable decrease over the same period the prior year. Despite a spying incident and Poland’s President saying he was opposed to Chinese OFDI (COFDI) in strategic infrastructure, Poland’s Foreign Minister told visiting Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi Poland is open to COFDI. Korea reacts strongly to Japanese media report in which a senior member of Japan’s Liberal Democratic party charged dual-use chemicals exported to South Korea ended up in the North. Japan is surprised at Seoul’s strong response to it instituting tighter controls on the export of certain chemicals to South Korea and Seoul making the issue a World Trade Organization (WTO) issue. Japan moving towards a formal WTO case regarding Seoul’s provision of subsidies to South Korean shipbuilders. Hyundai Engineering and Construction signs a $2.7 billion contract with Saudi Aramco for two projects relating to a massive oil and gas refining complex.

MNCs in the News-2019-07-05

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announces China plans to create a better environment for foreign direct investment (FDI) in China. China’s financial opening leads various foreign investors to move to take control of their China joint ventures (JVs). Chinese outbound mergers and acquisitions (M&A) volume for the first six months of 2019 is the lowest since 2013. During a visit to China, Turkey’s President works to attract Chinese FDI and take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). With the activities of information technology giants gaining increased Japanese government scrutiny, the Japan unit of Facebook joins Keidanren. Japan’s export curbs on semiconductor materials bound for South Korea due to their dispute over forced labor compensation could pressure Samsung and the broader Korean economy. Japanese export controls on high-tech materials and chemicals used in South Korean semiconductor and smartphone manufacturing will stress Korean companies already feeling market and trade pressures. After a gathering between United States (US) President Donald Trump and the heads of major South Korean business groups, some Korean firms stated they would boost their US investments.

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