Asia-Latin America Round Up — 17 Aug 2017

Highlights

Chinese investors set sights on Miami — Miami Agent Magazine
A summary of an Investorist report that revealed that Miami has a high level level of activity from Chinese investors — second only to Los Angeles — who are drawn to the city's rising land values, reputation as a major financial hub and an increased interest from Chinese students to attend the University of Miami.

China-Latin America

Bioceânica, orçada em R$ 155 bi, se torna conto chinês — Valor
The Bioceanic railway is a Chinese sponsored project that was going to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific via Brazil and Peru. However, the project has struggled with disagreements among the three countries as to the best route, and other delays. And with a $49b price tag in it’s best case scenario, the Brazilian government has balked at paying it’s share, and it’s unclear whether the project will actually go forward.

China Steps up for Sustainable Infrastructure — Hablemos de cambio climático
The IDB applauds the China International Contractor Associations (CHINCA) coming out withGuidelines of Sustainable Infrastructure for Chinese International Contractors. Last year they issued a joint technical report on sustainable infrastructure which provides a practical and process-oriented perspective for Chinese institutions and sets the stage for a new chapter of China-LAC infrastructure cooperation, which the IDB sees as a precursor to the new guidelines. The IDB sees China as continuing to be a key part of solving Latin America’s infrastructure gap of about $180b per year. Interesting to note that they see working with the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a key part of filling that gap.

Returnees from Venezuela eager to leave China again — SCMP
As Venezuela implodes, so do the dreams of Chinese migrants — SCMP
Two companion pieces profiling the fortunes of the 400,000 Chinese people that had moved to Venezuela, in part due to the economic connections and political affinity between China and Chávez’s government. Of note, 50,000 people with roots in Enping a county-level city in Jiangmen in the Pearl River Delta which has a long history as a source of Chinese migrants, had returned to China from Venezuela last year.

China in Bolivia: Financial Sovereignty or New Dependency? — NACLA
While Chinese investment in Venezuela has been the biggest discussion in Latin America, it isn’t the only one. "China has become the principal funder and contractor for President Evo Morales’s state-led development project.” This article profiles the Chinese presence in Bolivia, which continues to grow, and has led to several protests:

A major highway in Cochabamba, Bolivia, under construction by Chinese conglomerate Sinohydro, is paralyzed by five work stoppages in 14 months. In Santa Cruz, Sinopec, a Chinese oil and gas megafirm building another road, is cited for contaminating a nearby river with construction debris. Outside La Paz, 86 communities declare a “state of emergency” to protest the alleged diversion of water by Chinese mining companies during an unprecedented water crisis.

China Econ/Policy

Trump's China trade crackdown coming Monday — Politico
Trump administration goes after China over intellectual property, advanced technology — Washington Post
After much speculation in leading up to the announcement on Monday, the White House announced what was received as underwhelming steps towards addressing trade with China. The announced policy directs U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to determine whether to launch an investigation into Chinese intellectual property theft. The inquiry — which could take up to a year — would give the president broad authority to retaliate if it finds that China is compromising U.S. intellectual property.

Why China Is Shooting Its Gray Rhinos — Variety
An interesting profile of how the recent clampdown on private Chinese companies like Wanda and Fosun has impacted Hollywood. The article says the lessons for the US movie industry are twofold: first, political risk should be moved far higher up the agenda in any Sino-international dealing; and second, that China is now a major player that has enough momentum and scale to affect global industry. 

Vista Tower moving ahead despite Chinese crackdown on investor — Chicago Tribune
After all the news about Dalian Wanda in the past several weeks, Magellan Development Group says that the billion-dollar, 98-story Vista Tower, which will be the third-tallest building in Chicago once completed, is unaffected.

China’s love of US chicken feet proves a recipe for a perfect trade — FT
China’s demand for agricultural products goes beyond what Westerners traditionally define as consumable, as the country imports300,000 tonnes of chicken feet each year. This article does a deep dive into the regulatory process behind getting approval for canning chicken in China for the US, the economic case for which was driven by those feet.

Asia-Latin America Round Up — 11 Aug 2017

Highlights

Miami International Airport direct flights to Asia two years away — Miami Today
Miami International Airport is expanding its search of Asian air carriers to create a direct commercial flight to Asia. After meeting with Japan Airlines to market a Tokyo-Miami connection, MIA has continued to look at all Asian carriers who are interested in servicing Miami with an Asian link. “We’re about two years out from a direct flight to Asia, but I hope I’m wrong,” says Emilio Gonzalez, Miami-Dade County aviation director. In the past ten years, Asian cargo flights and tonnage have more than doubled. The most recent figures show that nearly 100,000 tons of cargo flow between MIA and Asia annually, at a value of $5.2b.

Air China opens commercial office in Cuba to enhance cooperation — China Daily
Air China opened a commercial office in Cuba to boost tourism cooperation between the two nations. The airline has been flying between Havana and Beijing since 2015. "With a duration of almost 20 hours of flight and a technical stop in Montreal, Canada, Air China's flight to Cuba is the only direct link between China and the Caribbean region.”

Miami travel-tech startup grows to 150 employees, sets sights on Asia — Miami Herald
Miami-based Oasis, a curated marketplace of private homes offering upscale travel accommodations start from one employee in 2009; now it has 150 helping connect people to 2,400 properties in 22 markets. Now Hyatt has stepped in with other investors to bolster the company with $35m; that investment will allow Oasis to enter it’s next market: Asia.

Gaw Reportedly in Talks for $340M Manhattan Hotel — Mingtiandi
Changes coming to the Standard Grille. Hong Kong private equity shop Gaw Capital Partners is reported to be in talks to purchase the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s meatpacking district for $340m. The purchase price is 15 percent less than the $400 million the hotel was contracted to sell for in a reported 2014 deal that never closed. The acquisition would represent Gaw Capital’s first high-profile investment in the city, following a series of real estate deals in California and Chicago in recent years.

China-Latin America

Mexican state of San Luis Potosi looks to China for more investment — Xinhua
Mexico's north-central state of San Luis Potosi — on the edge of the enormous Centro-Bajio industrial corridor — is angling for a business delegation from China before the end of the year.

Peru launches JingDong online alpaca clothing store to conquer China market — Agencia Andina
Peru's Trade Office in Beijing (Ocex Beijing) and Chinese companies signed an MOU that will will allow the Inca nation's alpaca garment exporters export up to $1.5m a year in wool. E-platform JingDong will open a special online store for Peruvian firms to market top-quality alpaca garments under sectoral brand Alpaca del Peru (Peru's Alpaca).

Present and Perspectives of the “Triangle” Between China, Latin America and the United States — COHA
A brief summary of academic writing on the relationship between China and the US in Latin America, concluding that "China and the US have much more to win than to lose by collaborating in the region."

Brazil needs to improve business environment to attract Chinese companies — Xinhua
Brazil’s São Paulo state boosts relations with China — Macauhub
Brazil’s premier think tank, the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) hosted it’s "1st Brazil-China Seminar -- Regulation and Legal Challenges for Chinese Companies and Investments in Brazil” in São Paulo. The seminar concluded that Brazil needs to improve its business environment and have a more open structure to attract more Chinese investors. São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin also met with Banco da China Brasil and the Shanghai General Association of Brazil to promote relations.

China Extends Her Silk Road to Haiti — Huffington Post
China plans to invest $30 billion in Haiti’s infrastructure. To kick it off, Haitian company Bati Ayiti (Build Haiti), has signed an agreement with the Southwest Municipal Engineering and Design Research Institute of China to construct a 600 megawatt power plant to electrify Port-au-Prince, the construction of a new City Hall, markets, thousands of apartments, and eventually a railway from Port-au-Prince to the countryside. 20,000 workers will begin work before the end of 2017, backed by an initial infusion of $5 billion. It is unclear whether the workers will be Chinese or Haitian. Importation of workers for Chinese projects has caused issues in the Caribbean and other areas before.

Leading candidates emerge in contest to score free trade deals with China — Seafood Source
Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica already have FTAs with China. But the country is looking to expand the number of agreement it has in hopes of gaining new sources of food and agriculture:

China is also considering dealing with Ecuador and Colombia. In Ecuador, shrimp exporters have long called for a free trade deal with China so they can compete with countries that already have one, including Vietnam. However, Ecuadorians and Venezuelans may be disappointed by the fact that Colombia is in the mix, considering the fact that both regional rivals already well within China’s orbit as trade partners and recipients of loans-for-oil from China.

In most of its trade deals, China moves to guarantee supply and flatten prices at home in order to tame food price inflation. Free trade deals, which take a long time to negotiate, give exporters an enviable edge in sales to China.

China Bets on Venezuelan Mining — The Dialogue
A risky bet - two large Chinese companies unveiled agreements in July worth several hundred million dollars to revitalize the underdeveloped sector in the unstable country. The first—a $400m JV between the Corporación Venezolana de Minería, Chinese firms CAMCE and Yankuang Group, and Colombia’s Inter-American Coal—aims to restore CVM’s coal mining and port operations. CAMCE, a construction engineering affiliate of state-owned China National Machinery Industry Corporation (SINOMACH), and Yankuang Group, a Shangdong-based coal company, will also invest $180m to develop Venezuela’s nickel industry.

Panama sends security, trade envoys to Beijing for talks — SCMP
Panama could become part of the Silk Road and globalize it: Tapiero — The Bulletin Panama
Panama sent representatives for discussions with China's Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, and other senior Beijing security and migration officials, as well as the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), following the establishment of diplomatic relations in June. Panamanian economist Eddie Tapiero sees a key role for the country in CHina’s One Belt One Road initiative. This view is driven by Panama’s logistics capabilities around the Canal, bolstered by renewed bilateral interest.

Pearl of China Centre  for Welgelegen Road — The Daily Herald St Maarten
Plans for the Pearl of China Center in St Maarten continue to evolve. It will be split in two, with its planned convention and training centre to be moved to across the road form the original site. The Chinese government-backed complex is planned to complete it’s first phase by the end of 2018. The center will be constructed from prefabricated panels that will be shipped in from China and assembled on the site.

Asia-Latin America

Korea-Latin America forum held in Seoul — Korea Times
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea International Trade Association organized the Korea-Latin America Future Cooperation forum in Seoul to promote “Korea-Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Cooperation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Era” at the end of July. Costa Rica’s Vice Minister of Economy, Industry and Commerce Carlos Mora Gomez also attended the event. 

The Case For Increased Israel - Mexico Commercial Relations — Jerusalem Post
Our colleague Carlos Gutierrez of the Highline Point Group makes the case for increased ties between Mexico and it’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, Israel. He highlights a lot of the connections that already exist in areas such as agriculture and technology. 

India, Peru to start FTA negotiations this week — Economic Times
Peru and India have kicked off FTA negotiations. Peru ranks third among export destinations for India in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Bilateral trade was $1.8b last year, up from $1.5b the year before.

Mexichem to take over Israeli irrigation firm Netafim in $1.5 billion deal — Reuters
Mexican industrial group Mexichem has agreed to buy an 80 percent stake in Israeli irrigation firm Netafim in a deal valuing the company at $1.9b. Netafim is a pioneer in drip irrigation technology, as well as crop management technologies such as monitoring and control and dosing systems and crop management software.

Toyota says to delay start of Mexico plant to early 2020 — Reuters
Toyota will push back the start of operations at its scheduled new plant in Mexico to the first half of 2020 from the initial plan of 2019. Japan's top automaker had initially planned to start building the Corolla sedan at it's $1b Guanajuato plant but said last week it would switch production to a new U.S. factory. Toyota says the delay was necessary to adjust its supply chain in Mexico to produce the Tacoma pickup model instead of the Corolla.

Chile short-lists seven companies for value-added lithium projects — Reuters
Chile’s push for lithium development continues. The country’s state development agency CORFO announced that seven companies — Russia's TVEL/Rosatom, South Korea's Samsung SDI Co, Belgium's Umicore, Chile's Molymet and China's Fulin Group, Jiangmen Kanhoo Industry Co and Gansu DET Co — had advanced to the short list to develop value-added lithium projects in the country. The selection process is expected to be completed around January and that more than one winner could be selected. Projects resulting from the auction should come online in 2019.

Qatar Airways to expand Latin America with cargo-friendly flights — Air Cargo World
Qatar Airway has announced plans to offer passenger flights on cargo-friendly A350-900 widebodies from Doha to Rio de Janeiro and Santiago, beginning next year. The newly announced flights will operate four times per week, with service from Doha to Rio de Janeiro before going on to Santiago. Qatar Airways has expanded it’s Latin America presence, buying 10% of LATAM Airlines in December and and launching 777 freighter services to São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Quito.

Aela Energia secures $410 million in funding — Windpower Monthly
Mainstream Renewable Power and investment firm Actis have secured $410m in funding for two projects developed by their Chilean joint venture, Aela Energia. The Inter-American Development Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, the Korean Development Bank and Spanish group Caixa have funded the two projects that will have a combined installed capacity of 300MW. Both projects are due for completion in the second half of 2018.

Asia-Latin America Round Up — 21 Jul 2017

Highlights

US and China talks in Washington end in deadlock as threat of trade war rises — SCMP
US and China step up steel talks to avert trade war — FT
The U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue this week confirmed that the honeymoon between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is over. The talks appear to have been substantive, but looming over them is Trump’s threat of invoking a Cold War-era law and impose either tariffs or quotas on steel imports.

China’s Jack Ma has penetrated the Trump administration — and he knows what he wants — Washington Post
China's Richest Man Jack Ma Leads Chinese Business Tycoons to US — The Diplomat
On Tuesday, Alibaba’s Jack Ma cohosted the US-China Business Leaders Summit with Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the private-equity firm the Blackstone Group. The meeting was held the day before the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, and Ma’s goal is approval by CFIUS of Ant Financial’s acquisition of MoneyGram.

Chinese Top Foreign Homebuyers in US - Again — Mingtiandi
Foreign Buyers Drive Record $153 Billion of U.S. Residential Sales, Miami Top Market — World Property Journal
For the third year in a row, buyers from China exceeded all countries by dollar volume of sales at $31.7 billion, as well as number of housing units (40,572), according to the National Association of Realtors’s annual survey. Florida received 22% of foreign buying activity, with Miami being the main focus. However the state was not the biggest focus of Chinese buyers (which was California), but instead attracted the most Canadian buyers.

It’s Official: Mexico City Eliminates Mandatory Parking Minimums — Streetsblog USA
Mexico City has eliminated mandatory parking minimums for real estate developments, in many cases replacing them with maximums. For example, office developments had been required to include at least one parking space per 30 square meters of floor area. Now that is the maximum parking ratio developers can build. Additionally, the new rules also require developers to pay a fee if they build more than 50 percent of the maximum parking allowed in the central city. The new rules do require one type of parking: new buildings will have to include space for bicycles.

BTG Pactual hires Credit Suisse trader for Miami wealth unit — Citywire
Brazil’s BTG Pactual has hired a trader from the Bahamas to grow their presence in the Miami  offshore market, which is driven by Latin America clients.

Where We Are in the Emerging Market and Big Dollar Cycle — Mark Dow
One of the smartest independent macro analysts out there is still bullish on Emerging Markets.

 

China-Latin America

Chinese investors zero-in on Latin America — China Dialogue
Chinese foreign direct investment in Latin America has now surpassed $110b and continues to rise fast — it’s expected to total $250b by 2025.

Alongside the rapid rise in investment, the nature of Chinese investment in Latin America is changing as well, with the service sector receiving over half of all investment since 2013. In fact, industries such as finance, electricity, renewable energy, and transport have all received more than US$4 billion in Chinese investment.

Elsewhere, Latin America’s automotive industry has received over US$10 billion in investment, as Chinese firms race to capture market share in the Americas. However, these investments are concentrated in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. This is consistent with overall Chinese investment in Latin America, focused in a just few countries, including Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Bolivia. Also notable is that the vast majority of Chinese investment is from state-owned enterprises (SOEs), comprising over 80%, contrary to Chinese FDI in the US and EU, which come from mainly private Chinese firms.

Chineses planejam investir pelo menos R$ 32 bi no Rio — O Globo
Chinese SOEs are looking to make signifiant investments in Rio de Janeiro totaling at least R$32b ($10b). Sanitation company Cedae is being looked at by “chinese companies.” China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is looking to participate in the construction of the R$13b ($4b) Angra 3 nuclear power plant.  China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is looking to build a R$13b ($4b) refinery for the Comperj oil complex. State Power and China Three Gorges are competing to purchase the R$2.2b ($700m) Cemig stake in the Light power utility. And phone company Oi is in negotiations to be recapitalized by China Development Bank, ZTE, and Hong Kong investment fund TGP. This all follow’s HNA’s R$4b ($1.25b) purchase of Odebrecht’s stake in Galeão airport.

Belgium-China consortium wins $166m Panama cruise terminal contract — Seatrade Maritime
Cruceros del Pacifico, formed by Belgium’s Jan de Nul and Beijing-based China Harbour Engineering Co. (CHEC), was awarded a $165.7m contract by Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) to design, develop and build the Amador Cruise Terminal at the Panama Canal Pacific entrance. The terminal will have capacity to accommodate two ships of 360 meters in length, with a capacity of 5,000 passengers per vessel, in an area whose draught must reach 10.5 meters.The work will be completed by mid-2019.

Sino-Mexican consortium wins oilfield exploration contract in Mexico — China Daily
A consortium made up of China's Shandong Kerui, and Mexico's Sicoval MX and Nuevas Soluciones won the bid for Area Six, a field of 193 square kilometers in the Veracruz oil belt which has potential to provide liquefied gas. The consortium bid $2.2b, beating out a Mexican and an American competitor.

China Could Have a Big Say on Venezuela's Future — Bloomberg
Venezuela owes China more than $62 billion in loans, and is behind in the oil shipments used for payment on some of them. Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is refusing to negotiate with a strengthened opposition in that country. A Chinese-led effort to show Maduro the error of his ways might have some impact, but will involved China overcoming it’s policy of"non-interference” in the internal affairs of other countries. 

Fosun faz oferta avaliando a Guide em R$ 500 milhões — Brazil Journal
Fosun has made an offer for a majority of Banco Indusval’s Guide Investimentos that values the brokerage at R$ 500m ($160m). Last year Fosun bought Rio Bravo Investimentos, and is expected to integrate the two.

In Cuba, a Chinatown With No Chinese — The Diplomat
“The barrio chino? Not even the Chinese go there.” An interesting article that contrasts the lack of Chinese nationals in a country that is awash in Chinese white goods, automobiles, and investment.

 

Asia-Latin America

Asian firms seek to shake up Chilean infrastructure — Reuters
A $600 million tender for Chile's Route 66, known as "The Fruit Highway," will be published in the coming weeks. This is part of $2b in infrastructure projects that Chinese Korean, and other firms are showing a strong interest in. The firms include China Harbor Engineering Co and the China Gezhouba Group Co, China Three Gorges Corp, as well as South Korea's SK E&C, Posco E&C, and Hyundai. A Malaysian investors’ group has also shown interest.

Axis Bank, IIC pact to boost trade with Latin America — Money Control
India’s Axis Bank has signed up for the Inter-American Investment Corporation’s Trade Finance Facilitation Program (TFFP); making it the first Indian bank to do so.

Empresa argentina San Miguel compra peruana Agrícola Hoja Redonda — Reuters
Argentine fruit company San Miguel bought Peruvian company Agrícola Hoja Redonda for $64m so as to be able to access Asian and US markets. San Miguel is a citrus company; Hoja Redonda is the largest mandarin orange producer in Peru, and also grows avocados and grapes.

Minera Crystallex gana orden judicial en corte EEUU contra china Haitong sobre activos de Venezuela — Reuters
Canada’s Crystallex received a $1.4b judgment from the ICSID international arbitration court against the government of Venezuela last year due to the latter’s expropriation of the Las Cristinas gold mine in 2008. Crystallex has now received a US judgement attaching Venezuelan assets held in the US by China's Haitong International Securities Group. This attachment means that the assets cannot be moved until Crystallex is compensated. Last month, a similar judgement was issued against Japan’s Nomura.

TPP, the Trade Deal Trump Killed, Is Back in Talks Without U.S. — NYT
Japan has been pushing the eleven remaining members of the TPP — including Mexico, Chile, Peru, Malaysia and Korea — to move forward with the trade deal without the US. The deal would strengthen trade ties across the Pacific, as well as potentially push China to reform.

 

China Econ/Policy

China tells lenders to turn off the taps to Dalian Wanda — FT
Wanda Finds Second Buyer After Sunac Deal Draws Scrutiny — WSJ
What’s the Rationale Behind Wanda’s $9.4 Billion Asset Sale? — Caixin Global
Dalian Wanda’s woes continue. Last week, Sunac had agreed last week to buy 76 of Wanda’s 77 hotels, together with Wanda’s 13 cultural tourism projects, for $9.3b. However, after the deal announced last week came under fire from major credit ratings firms, R&F Properties suddenly stepped in to acquire the 77 for RMB 19.9 billion ($2.9b). R&F has been expanding it’s real estate empire, recently acquiring several properties in London.

HNA risks in Latin America — Bloggings by Boz  
Behind a Chinese Powerhouse, a Web of Family Financial Ties — NYT
Another Chinese company that has been under scrutiny is HNA, which the New York Times notes has a lot of related-party relationships with companies owned by family members of leadership. Our friend Boz notes that a stumble by HNA could impact Latin America, where it has bought shares of airlines and airports. It would cause uncertainty, to be sure, but ultimately these are best thought of as contingent liabilities for the Chinese government, who would step in and take over HNA.

Chinese state TV asks: did Suning buy Inter Milan to launder money? — SCMP
Appliance retailer Suning Holding Group, made a splash last year by buying a 70% stake in Inter Milan for €270m ($311.61m). But now it’s taking a hit from the government media over the move:

“This famous club (Inter Milan) has been making a loss for five years, with total losses amounting to 275.9 million euros. For what purpose would a Chinese company take over it?” asked the host of a TV show on state-owned China Central Television on Tuesday morning.

“Some companies are already highly indebted at home, yet they spend lavishly with bank loans abroad ... I think many overseas acquisition deals have a low chance of generating cash flow, and I cannot exclude the possibility of money laundering,” said Yin Zhongli, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, during the show.

China to Accelerate SOE Consolidation in Bid to Build Corporate Giants — Caixin Global
The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) is looking to rationalized the Chinese SOE sector. A document now being drafted by SASAC will be released by the end of the year, with a target of classifying all companies as either investment, financial services or industry firms, the source said. After completing the grouping, SASAC will use consolidation to reduce the number of companies under its supervision from the current 101 to about 80. Among those, about 20 will be investment companies; two or three will be from the financial services group; and about 50 will come from the industry category.

Asia-Latin America Round Up — 14 Jul 2017

Highlights

ASRR’s Asian partners want out at Miami Arts & Entertainment District site — The Real Deal
One month after ASRR Capital announced plans to build a massive 1.7 million-square-foot complex on a block-long swath of land in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District, its Asian partners want out. Citing filings on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the Real Deal says Chinese construction company CNMB International and the Hong Kong-based G-Resources are looking to sell the site, or their stake. ASRR stated that it will consider buying its partners out.

Hollywood Circle, largely funded by Chinese EB-5 investors, scores $60M loan — The Real Deal
The Hollywood Circle mixed-use project under construction in downtown Hollywood, FL, has received $60m in financing from City National Bank of Florida. Hollywood Circle is largely funded (70%) by Chinese EB-5 investors, who invested $125 million. Located north of Hollywood Boulevard and east of U.S. 1, the development will offer 397 rental apartments and a 104-room boutique hotel, a 10,000 sqf restaurant and a 46,744 sqf Publix.

The Accelerating Disruption of China’s Economy — Fortune
According to Fortune, the impact of the online-to-offline (or “O2O”) revolution is being highly underestimated and stands to take legacy retailers almost completely by surprise: 

Starting in 2016, Alibaba’s Jack Ma advocated the concept of “New Retail”—in his words, “the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain.” Considering that Alibaba already accounts for more than one-tenth of China’s total retail sales (including 75% of online sales)…

And the integration of O2O is only going to continue:

In February, Alibaba announced a strategic alliance with Bailian Group, the state-owned supermarket, mall and department store chain, which boasts massive amounts of underused retail space in Shanghai and on the eastern seaboard. The new partners will share offline retail branches, merchandising capability, logistics and technology. They are already designing new retail outlets together and developing retail technologies incorporating big data and artificial intelligence.

 

Asia-Latin America

Chile receives 12 bids for value-added lithium projects — Reuters
The companies that have applied to the program include China's Sichuan Fulin Industrial Group Co, SinoVenture Chile, Gansu Daxiang Energy Technology Co, and a joint venture of Shenzheng Metal Tech Co and Jiangmen Kanhoo Industry Co.; as well as South Korea's Samsung SDI Co.

Israel’s Eco Wave Power building 4.1MW project in Mexico — Israel21c
The Israeli company Eco Wave Power announced that it will build its first energy-generating station in Mexico, a 4.1MW project that will be located in the Cuyutlán-Tepalcates beach area of Manzanillo in the state of Colima. Eco Wave Power’s proprietary technology extracts energy from ocean and sea waves and converts it into electricity. The Tel Aviv-based company has raised the first $1 million toward completing the Mexican project and intends to raise an additional $12 million by the end of 2017.

 

China Econ/Policy

Tencent Dominates in China. Next Challenge Is Rest of the World — Bloomberg
The owner of the WeChat app (and lesser-known QQ) is trying to figure out how to leverage it’s dominance of it’s home market — WeChat alone has 937.8 million active users, more than a third of whom spend in excess of four hours a day on the service — into a global presence. That global push is coming through WeChat Pay, the acquisition of Clash Royale app game, and that according to Bloomberg, "Tencent’s greatest hope for overseas expansion rests with the increasing number of its Chinese users moving or traveling abroad and carrying the gospel of WeChat with them."

Wanda Signals Retreat on Debt-Fueled Acquisition Binge — NYT
Wanda Sells Theme Parks and 76 Hotels to Sunac — Mingtiandi
The rebalancing of China’s big four private companies under official sector pressure continues. Wanda has announced it is selling a 91 percent stake in its 13 “Cultural Tourism City” theme park projects, along with 76 hotels, to Tianjin-based builder Sunac for RMB 63.18b ($9.3b) asset. This appears to be China’s largest ever real estate transaction. Wanda chief Wang Jianlin says the proceeds from the deal will be used to reimburse most of the company’s bank loans, in a plan to relist the company’s equity onshore in China.

China's URWork to Open Co-Working Center in NYC — Mingtiandi
URWork Lands in Fosun's 28 Liberty in Manhattan — Mingtiandi
China’s URWork — the $1.3b Beijing-based startup that aims to be China’s answer to WeWork — has partnered with New York-based Serendipity Labs to set up a 34,000 sqf space at 28 Liberty St. The coworking space in a financial district building owned by Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun will open in October.

China’s $800 Billion Sovereign Wealth Fund Seeks More U.S. Access — NYT
China Investment Corporation is urging American authorities to allow it better access to the market, at a time when Chinese deals are facing more scrutiny. CIC is particularly focused on infrastructure, an area where the Trump administration has been pushing for private players to invest more money, and it says that sovereign wealth funds are a good source of financing for such major, long-term deals. However it is concerned that current restrictions on foreign ownership, and mooted plans to strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), could hamstring it.

Chinese real estate industry is set for an insane level of consolidation — The Real Deal
Analysts at Citigroup say that there is a wave of consolidations washing over the Chinese real estate industry, and they predict that the country’s 10 biggest developers will increase their joint share of sales from 20 percent in 2016 to 28 percent by the end of the year. And by 2020, that share is expected to grow to 35 percent.

The Top Cities for Minority Entrepreneurs — Entrepreneur
Miami places second, coming in second for start-up density, having the third highest rate of new entrepreneurs, and having the twelfth best economic opportunities for minorities.

Apple to set up its first data centre in China — FT
Apple is opening its first iCloud data center on the mainland, after Beijing’s introduction last month of tighter cyber security rules. The new facility in Guizhou will be jointly operated with a Chinese internet company, as part of a $1bn investment in the southwestern province. However Apple continues to state it is keeping user information secure: “As our customers know, Apple has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” it said in a statement. 

How Alibaba is reinventing a 114-year-old newspaper in Hong Kong — Quartz
Alibaba bought Hong Kong’s English-language South China Morning Post (SCMP) about a year-and-a-half ago in a $266m deal. Alibaba has said it wants to transform the SCMP into a media company that is more relevant in the digital era. But in recent years, the paper has been accused of self-censorship and toeing a pro-Beijing line, and that remains a concern. Going forward, Joseph Tsai, Alibaba’s co-founder and vice chairman says it has a: 

10-year “gestation period” for the paper–a “general philosophy” that he said he applies to every single Alibaba business. The first three years should be focused on creating a product that people like. The focus between the third and fifth year is to come up with a revenue model. Year five to seven is about walking down a path to profitability. “Beyond year seven, you try to harvest. But after year ten, you have to go back and reinvent yourself,” Tsai said.

Alibaba Just Beat Out Amazon in Race to Have Stores With No Cashiers — The Street
Alibaba's Taobao launched a pop-up cashier-less café in Hangzhou, China, that functions almost exactly like the Amazon Go stores. Customers scan the Taobao app on their smartphone when they walk in, grab what they want from inside the store and step out through a door with computer sensors that can detect what the customer took from shelves. The bill for those items is sent directly to the customer's phone via Alibaba's Taobao e-commerce app. While the Amazon Go store is currently only for the company’s employees, the Taobao store is open to all clients.

Massive Metropolis condo complex ushers in a new era of residential development in downtown L.A. — LA Times
The first condominium tower in Metropolis, one of the biggest real estate developments in Los Angeles history, officially opened Thursday. The $1b luxury condo-and-hotel complex is one of a handful of mega projects being built by Chinese real estate companies looking to make a splash in Los Angeles and establish themselves as global brands. The new tower stands 38 stories and has 308 units, 80% of which have been sold or are in escrow, according to Metropolis. The second condo tower of 40 stories is expected to be finished next May, and the third condo tower of 56 stories is set to open in October 2019. Built by the US subsidiary of Shanghai-based Greenland, Metropolis will be one of the largest mixed-use developments in the West at 3.5 million square feet on 6.33 acres.

10 Chinese Megacities to See Before You Die — Bloomberg
Dean of the omnivores Tyler Cowen does a quick tour of Chinese megacities that usually escape the attention of Western visitors, including Qingdao, which he describes as: "well-groomed and set on the water, with a lot of open space."

Asia-Latin America Round Up — 7 Jul 2017

Highlights

China lashes out at US as Trump-Xi honeymoon ends — FT
Trump phones Xi as US-China friction grows — FT
1 big thing: Honeymoon over with China — Axios
Trump Considers Hard Line on Chinese Steel in Advance of G20 Summit — Time
Trump overrules cabinet, plots global trade war — Axios
The White House is now saying it is going to be tougher on China, a change in the approach seen in the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-lago in April. The two drivers of the change are North Korea’s bellicosity (which Trump sees as enabled by China, who he thinks can effectively take a stronger hand), and the need to deliver a win for his electoral base (that Trump thinks would benefit from slapping tariffs on the 26% of steel that is imported from China). Needless to say, a 20% on steel and other imports (including: aluminum, semiconductors, paper, and appliances like washing machines) would be devastating to bilateral relations and the global economy. While Trump’s advisors are nearly unanimous in arguing against, reports are that Trump is "hell-bent on imposing tariffs."

Alibaba-Backed Logistic Company Best Inc. Files for U.S. IPO — Bloomberg
Chinese delivery firm Best Inc. has filed for an initial public offering through American depository shares with an initial offering size of $750m. Alibaba, Best’s biggest existing shareholder with a 23% stake, accounted for about 70% of the firm's express deliveries in the three months through March.

Leveraging Big Data, Mercado Libre Offers Loans in Brazil and Mexico — US News & World Report
Online marketplace Mercado Libre plans to provide working-capital loans to entrepreneurs in Brazil and Mexico this year, expanding on a program the company launched in Argentina last month. Sellers using Mercado Libre and its Mercado Pago payment platform will be eligible for loans equivalent to as much as two months of their monthly sales. Brazil and Mexico accounted for about 60 percent of Mercado Libre's revenues last year.

South Florida by the numbers: Chinatown(s) in Miami? — The Real Deal
A profile of some of the numbers behind the two proposed Miami-area Chinatowns: North Miami (along Northwest Seventh Avenue between 119th Street and 135th Street) and North Miami Beach (on Northeast 163rd Street from Northwest Second Avenue to Northeast 15th Avenue). It’s a pretty thin gruel, with the highlight being 47 Asian and Chinese-owned business in North Miami Beach, and a 2.2% Asian population in North Miami.

Where’s the Chinese money? — The Real Deal
A piece about what the driving factors are behind the lack of Chinese investors in the Miami. China-Miami commentator Seth Gordon suggests that South Florida lacks signature commercial buildings that attract high-net-worth Chinese investors and companies. “Chinese investors with real money don’t want to be in the business of being a landlord and collecting rent,” Gordon says. “They are buying for the prestige of owning a trophy property.” The article goes on to discuss how most Chinese investment in South Florida has been driven by the EB-5 visa program, which grants permanent U.S. residency to foreign nationals and their immediate family members for investments of  $500k to $1m in development projects that produce at least 10 direct or indirect jobs.

 

China-Latin America

Brazil, China open $20 bln fund for infrastructure, tech projects — Business Insider
The $20 billion Brazil-China bilateral infrastructure investment fund is ready to receive investment pitches, according to the Brazilian Planning Ministry.

Rising Chinese FDI in Latin America and the Implications for the United States — Atlantic Council
Chinese FDI in Latin America — Atlantic Council
The Atlantic Council has a new report and panel about Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Latin America. In addition to the increase in flows, as discussed before, the report notes that Chinese investment has diversified into the service sector, industries like automotive and IT, and electricity generation and transmission, in addition to more traditional investments in oil and mining. The recovery in Latin American economies, concerns by policy-makers in Europe and the US about Chinese investment in those economies, and the interest by Chinese firms to diversify away from China will all contribute to Chinese FDI in Latin America remaining buoyant in the coming years.

China key recipient of expanding Mexican avocado market — Fresh Plaza
According to the Mexican National Bureau of Statistics (INEGI), consumer prices for avocado in the country grew by 95% in the twelve months ending May 2017. Rapid growth of the international market demand and falling crop yield drove the price increase. In 2016 more than a half of Mexican avocado was exported. United States, Japan and China have became major markets for Mexican avocado.

Brazil's Cemig says China's State Power Investment bids for stake in dam — Reuters
Brazil's Centrais Energeticas de Minas Gerais received a proposal from China's State Power Investment Overseas Co. for its stake in Santo Antonio dam, the company said in a securities filing. Cemig has been selling assets to reduce its debt.

 

China Econ/Policy

Funding Tap Runs Dry for Property Developers — Caixin Global
Article discussing how debt funding for Chinese property developers is being constrained by government curbs on bank lending and efforts to get the financial sector to deleverage. While it is unclear how real the slowdown will be, one sign that property developers are being squeezed by government restrictions on borrowing is that equity financing is accounting for an increasing percentage of the money they raise.

Wanda Agrees to Buy London Site for $595M — Mingtiandi
Dalian Wanda continues to expand it’s holdings around it's Nine Elms project. It has agreed to purchase the 10.2 acre Nine Elms Square project for £470m ($595m) from a joint venture of UK builder St. Modwen Properties and France’s Vinci. The project has received initial approval for three towers of between 32 and 54 stories and 1,821 apartments.

China's CBRC Targets Wanda, HNA and Fosun in Crackdown — Mingtiandi
China warns its banks about four of its most global companies — The Economist
The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has asked financial institutions to review borrowing by the four conglomerates and report to the regulator on any potential dangers. The companies targeted include Dalian Wanda, Fosun, Anbang, and HNA - as well as Zhejiang Rossoneri, an investment company that bought AC Milan earlier this year. Some observers speculate that this may be related to factional struggles, or that it might signal an attempt by Xi Jinping to tighten his grip on the economy. Others suggest that this is part of a broader “regulatory storm” over the past six months to clean up the financial system.

CIC, China Life Join TIAA in $1.1B US Parking Deal — Mingtiandi
A unit of China Investment Corporation (CIC) and insurance giant China Life are teaming up with a group led by Fortune 500 financial services firm TIAA Private Investments and Antarctica Capital to buy Chicago-based InterPark for $1.1b. The deal gives the partners ownership over 57 parking garages and surface lots containing 49,000 parking spaces across the US. Parking assets offer the potential for high returns. According to one expert cited by Mingtiandi, active investors in parking lots can earn yields in the range of 12-18%.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 26 Jun 2017

Highlights

Chinese firm buys Lauderhill retail center — The Real Deal
Jin Yang Real Estate Corporation paid $4.15m for a 20,000 sqf shopping center in Lauderhill  for $213/sqf – its first real estate investment in the United States. Jin Yang Real Estate Corporation is a Florida entity set up earlier this year by a Kendall-based Mr Nanyang Wang.

Jack Ma Woos Mom and Pop Shops in U.S. Jobs Push — Bloomberg
Can China and the Internet Save American Small Business? — MIT Technology Review
Alibaba in America? Don't Bet on It. — Bloomberg View
Alibaba Considering Distribution Center in Detroit — Multichannel Merchant
There was plenty of coverage of the Alibaba event that Teddy and Mike attended in Detroit last week, and in the MIT Tech Review, Emily Parker outlines some of the US small business success stories that were highlighted there. The Gateway 17 conference was part of Jack Ma’s effort to achieve two goals: mollify Donald Trump’s protectionist urges and increase Alibaba’s US/global sourcing footprint. Success on the former goal remains to be seen, but the latter goal is the one that commentators have focused on. Christopher Balding in Bloomberg View notes that Alibaba has nowhere near the logistics and delivery platform one would expect from the “Amazon of China,” and that this will make it hard to attract SMEs (intimidated by the difficulties of shipping to China) and large firms (who won’t see a cost benefit from going with Alibaba). However Alibaba wants to continue showing it’s commitment to Detroit, and says it’s considering a distribution center in the area.

Increasingly Affluent Chinese Want Healthier Food — Fortune
Great lede: "China's frozen dumpling makers are finding there's a quick route to winning new sales - increase the vegetable content, and cut down on the meat.” The rising Chinese middle class is becoming more conscious about what it wants to eat, but - like US counterparts - are taking it slowly:

"They like to try to eat more healthy products once a week or fortnight. It's a big trend for mainland China consumers, especially those aged 20 to 35," said Ellis Wang, Shanghai-based marketing manager at U.S. food giant General Mills, which owns top dumpling brand Wanchai Ferry.

China-Latin America

China, Panama diplomatic drive puts business first — Reuters
The fallout from Panama and China’s mutual recognition continues. Panama and Beijing’s diplomatic embrace was backed by Panama's business community, which has set its sights on attracting more investment from China. According to Reuters, initial approaches started soon after President Carlos Varela took office in July 2014, but a push for full ties was not seriously undertaken until a tacit diplomatic truce between Beijing and Taipei in place since 2008 fractured last year, as we had previously suspected.

China puts Nicaraguan Canal plan on hold — The Times
In other news you heard here first in the wake of the Panama-China connection, the planned canal across Nicaragua seems to be officially dead. Per the UK’s Times, construction had been due to start this year, but residents along the planned route have reported no signs of any activity. ProNicaragua, the Nicaraguan government’s investment agency, made no mention of the project in its 2017-2021 plan.

China highlights ties with Peru, eyes infrastructure investment opportunities — Andina
A summary of an interview with China’s ambassador to Lima, Jia Guide. The Ambassador states that China will continue encouraging top-tier companies to invest in Peru, thus "serving as [growth] engine for traditional sectors like mining, hydrocarbons and infrastructure, while creating new growth drivers in fields like environmental protection, renewable energies and information connectivity.” He also notes that we must speed up trade cooperation, trying to optimize the bilateral free trade agreement […] and third, we must continue to strengthen humanistic and cultural exchange, focusing on education, technology, sanitation and tourism cooperation."

China is Mexico's second largest trading partner — Fresh Plaza
US and China can work together in Latin America — Nikkei Asian Review
Berries continue to flow from Latin America to China.  the state of Jalisco sent its first shipment of blueberries in 2015, and last year sent it’s first shipments of raspberry and strawberry to Dubai, Kuwait, and Singapore. As a result, Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s economy minister, suggests his country could shift its trade focus to China from the U.S., in the wake of the latter’s threats to tear up NAFTA.

Oliver Stuenkel — Twitter
"Just returned from southern Guyana, where Chinese merchants have set up a remarkable trading hub in Lethem. Packed with Brazilian shoppers."

Asia-Latin America

Costa Rica seeks FTA with Japan — The Japan News
It’s not just China Latin American countries are looking for FTAs with. Costa Rica is aiming to reach a free trade agreement and an investment pact with Japan as part of the Central American country’s strategy to diversify its economy based on business-friendly but environmentally conscious development platforms, Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora says in an interview with The Japan News. Costa Rica’s FTAs with China and Singapore entered into force in 2011 and 2013; last year, South Korea also reached an FTA with six Central American countries including Costa Rica.

China Econ/Policy

Europe and US cannot afford to ignore China's 'belt and road’ — SCMP
German's ambassador to China highlights that the EU and US cannot ignore Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. While questions remain about China’s ability to follow through on the Belt and Road vision, it’s impact on Europe’s periphery and surrounding areas means that China’s growing presence needs to be addressed. The Ambassador suggests two approaches: partner with China to close development gaps, while reinforcing the open, transparent and non-hierarchical world order (as he notes seems to be working with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank); and offering a competing model of local content, transparent bidding, and environmental and labor standards that would benefit the host countries of infrastructure projects.

A high-flying Chinese dealmaker has his wings clipped — The Economist
A good summary of what Anbang and chairman Wu Xiaohui have accomplished, and the difficulties the firm (and the man) now face.

Ping An Lends $700M for Chicago's Wanda Vista Tower — Mingtiandi
Ping An Bank, the bank financing division of the Chinese insurer, has extended a $700 million loan to the developers of Chicago’s 95 story Vista Tower, said to be the biggest construction loan in the city’s history. The financing will allow partners Magellan Development Group and Dalian Wanda Group to complete the billion-dollar, mixed-use luxury skyscraper by 2020.

China Oceanwide Buys SF Retail Building for $32M — Mingtiandi
China Oceanwide purchased a 15,995 sqf retail property at the corner of First and Mission Streets in San Francisco for $32.5m. The deal further solidifies their control around the ambitious $1.6 billion, Oceanwide Center mixed-use project that broke ground last December and is expected to be the second-tallest skyscraper in San Francisco when complete.

China gains entry to MSCI’s $1.6tn global index — FT
This was the big financial news last week. MSCI, which runs the benchmark global equity index, has agreed to include Chinese stocks in the index, forcing passive investors who track the index to buy those stocks. MSCI’s move means mainland equities, known as A-shares, will next year be included in its flagship emerging markets index, obliging the estimated $1.6tn of investment funds that track the index to buy the stocks. However, Chinese shares will only have a 5% weighting, meaning that they will be one-twentieth what they should be in the basket, limiting their potential upside. 

CIC bidding for 49% stake in 1515 Broadway, valuing tower at $2B — The Real Deal
China Investment Corporation is looking to buy 1515 Broadway, home to Viacom, from SL Green in a deal that could value the 1.75m sqf tower at around $2 billion, or around $1,142/sqf. SL Green is denied a deal has been reached. Last year, CIC, which is a Chinese sovereign wealth fund, bought a 45 percent stake in 1221 Sixth Avenue.

Big China companies targeted over ‘systemic risk’ — FT
China’s bank regulator ordered domestic lenders to check the “systemic risk” presented by “some large enterprises” involved in overseas buying sprees, sending stock prices of some of the country’s most acquisitive private-sector companies sharply lower. As a result, shares in companies controlled by Dalian Wanda, Fosun International and conglomerate HNA all fell.

Trump and the Thucydides Trap: Why West Wingers are boning up on Greek history. (Hint: Think China.) — NYT
Are China and the United States Headed for War? — The New Yorker
The buzzwords du jour inside the Beltway are “Thucydides Trap,” a catchphrase popularized by Graham Allison in his new book “Destined for War.” The phrase purports to describe the fact that “on the current trajectory, war between the U.S. and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than currently recognized.” The idea comes from Thucydides’ the Peloponnesian War, in which the established Sparta was threatened by the rise of Athens, and the resulting change in balance of power made war almost inevitable. Replace “Sparta” with “the US” and “Athens” with China, and you see why people, even in the White House, are nervous after reading this book.

However, Ian Buruma throws Allison a pretty convincing blowback pitch: "His book would be more persuasive, however, if he knew more about China.” Buruma lists many of the issues that can hold back China:

China’s population is aging so rapidly that an ever smaller pool of young people will have to support a growing number of old people, who lack proper welfare provisions; the country is an ecological disaster zone; the dead hand of Communist Party control makes necessary economic reforms difficult; innovative thinking is hampered by censorship; and so on. In terms of military hardware—aircraft carriers and the like—China still lags well behind the United States. And the United States has a wide network of allies in Asia, while China has almost none.

He goes on to highlight several other books (notably Amitai Etzioni’s “Avoiding War With China”) which would be better prisms through which to view the trans-pacific challenge.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 16 Jun 2017

Highlights

Why international tech startups are making Miami their U.S. base — Miami Herald
An article based around the eMerge Americas conference highlights that in the last year, nearly half of the tech companies checking out Miami have been international, and the Beacon Council has seen increasing interest from Europe, particularly from Spain and France. In addition to the cultural and global appeal of Miami, daily flights to Europe have been increasing and some countries incentivize their companies to expand beyond their borders.

Chinese investors hungry to get into US commercial real estate market  — China Daily
China was the top country of origin in both the buying and selling of US commercial real estate last year.

"For many global investors-including Chinese buyers-US real estate markets offer portfolio diversification, along with safety of capital and solid yields," [George Ratiu, NAR's director of quantitative and commercial research] told China Daily.

"While top-tier cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles have been attracting investment for a long time, with a shortage of inventory in those markets, many investors have found favorable conditions in mid-tier and small-cap markets."

In an expanding economy like the US, demand for commercial space increases, which helps to attract Chinese and other foreign buyers, he said.

"US commercial properties are well diversified both across geography as well as the price spectrum. Moreover, given the various property types, investors gain exposure to various segments of the US economy-industrial trade and logistics, retail consumption and multi-family housing.

China May Be Loria's Last Chance To Get $1.3 Billion For Marlins — Forbes
A group led by Tagg “Son of Mitt” Romney has been trying to cobble together enough money to buy the Marlins for months and is now looking to China for capital. Supposedly at least one owner of a soccer team is currently looking over the Marlins books. Romney is the only group offering $1.3 billion for the baseball team after the group with Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter pulled out of the bidding two weeks ago because it could not come up with the money. Other people interested in buying the team think the Marlins are worth between $900 million and $1.1 billion.

Panama switches diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China — AP
侠客岛:与台湾“断交” 巴拿马绝不是最后一个 — People’s Daily
Panama has recognized the PRC as the official government of China, switching diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing. China and Taiwan have vied for recognition from other countries, often sweetening the opportunity with aid packages and trade deals. Panama had been among the largest economies to have maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The island now has just 20 formal diplomatic partners, 11 of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean. The move ends what had been a decade long “truce” between China and Taiwan, and People's Daily "blogger" Xiake Dao says Panama will definitely not be the last country to cut ties with Taiwan. This also probably puts a nail in the coffin of the Nicaragua canal plan.

Alibaba Looks to Boost Sales Beyond Mainland With Tmall World — Caixin Global
Alibaba is looking to expand in Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, through allowing domestic Chinese merchants whose products attain certain quality and certification standards to sell through a single platform to multiple markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. This will be done through Tmall World, that will broaden its scope in these markets with better “logistics, payment and localization support,” the company said in a press release.

Baidu’s Turnaround Strategy — WSJ
An interview with new Baidu chief Qi Lu, who plans to turn Baidu around include a big investment in artificial intelligence for the development of new technologies for search and other businesses—including driverless cars.

Mnuchin Seeks Greater Scrutiny of Chinese Investments in U.S. — Bloomberg
The US Treasury wants to include China among a proposed group of hostile nations whose companies would undergo extra scrutiny for national security risks. The proposed expansion of Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) would also broaden the scope of the committee to include technology joint ventures and real estate transactions near military bases or other national security facilities.

Not one, but two dueling Chinatowns proposed in neighboring Miami-Dade cities — The Real Deal
Both North Miami and North Miami Beach have districts in the works. According to proponents, the proposed Chinatowns are fueled by Chinese investors’ appetite for South Florida real estate and commerce.

China-Latin America

Venezuela’s Road to Disaster Is Littered With Chinese Cash — Foreign Policy
From 2007 to 2014, China lent Venezuela $63 billion — 53% of all its lending to Latin America during this time. Beijing insisted on being repaid in oil. When oil dropped to close to $30 a barrel in January 2016, this caused Venezuela’s price tag for serving its debt to explode. To repay Beijing today, Venezuela must now ship two barrels of oil for every one it originally agreed to. With Venezuela a living nightmare for many of it’s people and teetering on the edge of collapse, Beijing faces no good options on collecting it’s debt, and other countries it is courting through the Belt & Road Initiative will be wary of getting caught in a similar situation.

China está lista para concretar TLC con México — El Financiero
China’s Ambassador to Mexico underlined that his country has the “doors open” to a free trade deal with Mexico. The statements were made at the China HomeLife fair in Mexico City, that brought over 700 Chinese textile, machine, and electronics companies looking to expand their business in the country.

China Southern Airlines eyes Brazil, Argentina destinations — SCMP
Fresh off establishing a route to Mexico earlier this year, Asia’s largest carrier in terms of passengers flown plans to establish passenger routes to Brazil and Argentina within the next five years, completing its worldwide reach. China Southern boss Wu Guoxiang declined to comment on reports that it is in talks to sell a stake in itself worth US$200 million to American Airlines, saying only that the two airlines are talking about “how to cooperate in the future”.

Latin America pivots to China on trade and development — American Journal of Transportation
"As the U.S. goes it alone, China steps into the void.” A look at how China and Latin America are trying to shoehorn the Belt and Road Forum into the vacuum left by the collapse of the US’ participation in the TPP.

Asia-Latin America

Singapore, Americas to boost fintech ties — The Straits Times
Abu Dhabi builds a 'fintech bridge' to Asia — Nikkei Asian Review
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Supervisors of Banks of the Americas (ASBA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday to bolster fintech ties between Singapore and the Americas. The MOU provides a framework for fintech cooperation between Singapore and the 36 ASBA member countries. Under the framework, MAS and ASBA can explore potential joint innovation projects on technologies such as blockchain and big data. MAS also signed a similar deal with Abu Dhabi.

China Econ/Policy

Culture Clash at a Chinese-Owned Plant in Ohio — NYT
Chinese company Fuyao Glass Industry Group spent more than a half-billion dollars to fix up an abandoned General Motors plant outside of Dayton, Ohio. But with the explosion of investment has come unexpected trouble — Fuyao faces an acrimonious union campaign by the United Automobile Workers and a lawsuit by a former manager who says he was let go in part because he is not Chinese. “Some workers questioning the company’s commitment to operating under American supervision and American norms."

China Engages California on Climate After Trump’s Paris Snub — WSJ
China and the Americas — Trinidad Express
China rolled out the red carpet when California Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown arrived to take part in an international clean-energy forum and meet provincial officials. Brown was received by President Xi Jinping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People; U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, also in town for the forum, was received by a vice premier. Among the agreements announced during the week included plans by California to coordinate emission-reduction programs with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and to set up a joint climate research institute between California and China’s Tsinghua University. The deal got positive play in many places, including Trinidad and Tobago.

China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt — NYT
Spectacular photos of bridges China has built illustrate this article about the dark side of China’s infrastructure boom. China has overspent on infrastructure domestically, leaving it with white elephant projects that most Chinese can’t afford to use and are saddled with debt. Says one expert who found that  fewer than a third of highway and rail projects are “genuinely economically productive”:

“Infrastructure is a double-edged sword,” said Atif Ansar, a management professor at the University of Oxford who has studied China’s infrastructure spending. “It’s good for the economy, but too much of this is pernicious. ‘Build it and they will come’ is a dictum that doesn’t work, especially in China, where there’s so much built already.”

Cheesegrater financing deal completed — Property Funds World
The Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as the ‘Cheesegrater’, a 46-storey tower in London was bought earlier this year for £1.15 billion ($1.5 billion) by C C Land Holdings Limited, a Hong Kong listed real estate company. It was the largest acquisition of a single building in the UK since December 2014.

Chinese Tech Firms Forced to Choose Market: Home or Everywhere Else — NYT
This article from last August and the accompanying video provide a good outline of the dilemma facing Chinese start ups:  the “Great Firewall" has forced them to choose — either create something that caters to China’s digital population or focus on the rest of the globe. "In many ways, the split is like 19th century railroads in the United States, when rails of different sizes hindered a train’s ability to go from one place to another."

Singapore offers to help bankroll China's global ambitions — Miami Herald
Singapore is offering up its financial industry to help bankroll China's ambition to develop a network of ports, railways, power plants and other projects across a broad swath of Asia, Europe and east Africa. Singapore has traditionally looked to the US for support (the US Navy has a support facility at the Port of Singapore since 1992 and periodically holds joint exercises with Singapore's navy), but the isolationist rhetoric has caused the island state to strengthen it’s connections with China. "Singapore has been a believer in China's rise," Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said after meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing on Monday. "This is a wonderful opportunity to restore, in a sense, these ancient trade links."

Anbang Insurance Chief Wu Xiaohui Said Detained Since Friday — Mingtiandi
Chairman of Chinese Firm Who Tried to Forge Ties With Jared Kushner Is Detained — NYT
Anbang’s billionaire chairman Wu Xiaohui steps aside amid probe reports — SCMP
Anbang Rout Turns China's Stock Giants From Heroes to Zeros — Bloomberg
Anbang's Woes Deepen as Banks Are Told to Halt Dealings — Bloomberg
The Anbang crisis deepens. Last week the company confirmed rumors that had been circulating for over a week that Chairman Wu Xiahui had been taken into custody by the authorities. The exact nature of Wu’s detention remains a mystery. Per Bloomberg:

Wu faces questions in a probe that includes looking into the sources of funding for Anbang’s acquisitions overseas, possible market manipulation by insurers, and “economic crimes,” people familiar with the matter said. The questioning doesn’t mean Wu is accused of any crime or will face charges, they said.

While this could be seen as just the latest and most high-profile move in Xi Jinping’s ongoing corruption clean up, Anbang itself could be in trouble:

Chinese authorities have asked lenders to suspend some business dealings with the insurer, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who didn’t provide further details. At least six large banks have stopped selling Anbang policies at their branch networks, with some taking action before the government notice, people with knowledge of their operations said.

“It’s like having your legs broken,” said Grace Zhou, a Hong Kong-based analyst at ICBC International, referring to the reported block on Anbang’s bank channels. “It’s their main source of revenue.”

China-backed fund in third bid for U.S. to approve chip deal — Reuters
Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, the China-backed buyout fund that agreed to acquire Lattice Semiconductor Corp in November for $1.3 billion, will submit the deal for U.S. review by CFIUS for the third time. Vacancies left in senior positions at several government agencies since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, have reduced CFIUS' capacity to review cases expeditiously, and are weighing on its decision-making ability, according to Reuters' sources.

Chinese firms in the US worried about Trump, but it won’t impact their investment strategies: survey — The Real Deal
Sixty-three percent of respondents to a Real Deal survey said they expect government oversight of mergers and acquisitions involving Chinese firms will be tightened under Trump, and 53% said they expect tightened government oversight of their activities more generally. However, the CEO of Bank of China USA blames “reasonable” capital controls — and not US policy — for the drop in Chinese investment.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 9 Jun 2017

Highlights

South Florida tries to hold back the sea — The Economist
As the subhed says: "Denial rules in Tallahassee; Miami takes matters into its own hands.” According to the Economist, by 2030, average sea levels in South Florida are likely to be six to ten inches above the mean level seen in 1992; by 2060, between 14 and 26 inches. By 2100 the Atlantic could devastate the area because of Florida’s porous limestone bedrock and shallow water table, which allow water to well up even behind sea walls. Florida Governor Rick Scott refuses to say whether he accepts the links between human activity and global warming, despite reports that say rising waters will threaten up to $36bn-worth of Florida’s coastal property by 2050. So Miami Beach will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the next few years on raising streets and improving drainage.

Alibaba’s bullish sales projection draws gasps — FT
Alibaba is forecasting annual revenue to grow by almost 50% this year, more than 10% above analysts’ estimates and "elicited gasps of “wow” and loud clapping from investors at the e-commerce group’s Hangzhou headquarters.” That growth is expected to be driven by the core retail business, including in newer areas such as physical supermarkets and international businesses. 

China Econ/Policy

Billionaire Anbang boss Wu Xiaohui barred from leaving China — FT
Anbang Denies China Is Preventing Chairman From Leaving Country — Bloomberg
The headlines say it all. Wu Xiaohui, the billionaire chairman of the acquisitive Chinese insurer Anbang, has been barred from leaving China, according to four people who have had business dealings with him. The claim was denied by the firm, that has been aggressive in it’s overseas investments in the past several years, starting with the purchase of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The apparent motivation, according to one unnamed finance SOE senior executive is that regulators “want to stop financial institutions from doing crazy things” that might provoke a financial crisis. Since the restraints were announced last Friday, no news on Wu has surfaced.

China's Tencent cracks top 10 'most valuable' brands list — Nikkei Asian Review
WPP and Kantar Millward Brown media agencies placed the WeChat owner 8th in their annual top 10 "most valuable" global brands. Tencent was the only non-American brand in the top 10 of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2017 ranking.  Alibaba was 14th, search engine company Baidu 39th and smartphone maker Huawei 49th.

Top U.S. Diplomat in China Quits Over Trump Climate Policy — NYT
David Rank, the chargé d’affaires (acting Ambassador) of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, has left the State Department over the Trump administration's decision to quit the 2015 Paris agreement to fight climate change, a senior U.S. official said on Monday. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, President Donald Trump's pick as the next U.S. ambassador to Beijing, is expected to take up the post later this month.

Chinese-Owned Aussie Builder Scoops Up Sydney Project for $60M — Mingtiandi
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) bought an office tower in the heart of downtown Sydney through John Holland, a local company it bought three years ago. The 14-storey Grade B tower with 7,357 square meters (79k sqf) of office space and a small retail component sold for A$80m ($60m).

Chinese regulators tighten lending to property developers via trust company loans — SCMP
The China Banking Regulatory Commission is stepping up scrutiny on trust companies in an effort to curtail lending to the real estate sector. According to a local trade publication, officials will check whether trust companies are helping developers to circumvent CBRC-imposed leverage caps by offering additional debt or equity financing to developers. Per SCMP and Brookings, China’s trust companies are financial firms that have a flexible charter and combine elements of banks and asset managers.

China City Construction warns of debt repayment problems — Reuters
China City Construction Holding Group, a state-owned infrastructure and property developer, has warned it is facing cash flow problems and could struggle to repay debts due on June 12. CCC issued bonds worth RMB 1.5b ($220.5) in 2014; while repayment of the principle and interest is due this month, China City Construction says its "financing channels have been restricted.” China City Construction had previously failed to make interest payments on a medium term note due on March 1 this year.

SOHO China chief sues fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui in New York for defamation — SCMP
No week is complete without a new turn in the case of Guo Wengui. The chairman of property developer SOHO China says he’s filed suit against Guo in NY Superior Court for defamation. Guo alleged in a live-stream last month that the SOHO China head and other property developers in Beijing were ­involved in rigging tenders in bids for land near the National Stadium in May 2006. In an unrelated move, Guo’s wife and daughter are said to have flown to New York and joined Guo on the proviso that they would help negotiate between Beijing and Guo. They had previously reportedly been barred from leaving the mainland since Guo left in August 2014.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 2 Jun 2017

Highlights

China-Brazil Fund officially presented in São Paulo on 30 May – Macauhub
Brazil-China fund to begin operations this Thursday — Global Trade Review
China and Brazil have launched their joint $20b Brazil-China Cooperation Fund for Increasing Productive Capacity this week. Of the amount raised, $15b were provided by Claifund, the Chinese fund for LatAm industrial cooperation, and $5bn were contributed by Brazilian financial institutions, BNDES and Caixa, that will be agents for the fund. Interestingly, this is the first Claifund project with bilateral parity, meaning that Brazil and China will have the same weight in financing decisions. Targets for the fund will include logistics, energy, mining, technology, agriculture and agribusiness.

A $200 Million Bet on Brazilian Tech Start-Ups Amid Political Upheaval — NYT
Latin American venture capital firm Kaszek Ventures has raised a $200 m fund in a bet on Brazilian start ups. The new fund is about 48 percent larger than the firm’s second and most recent fund, which was $135 m and was marketed in late 2013. While based in Argentina, about two-thirds of its investments are in start-ups in Brazil.

Forget New York or San Francisco, Chinese investors are looking at balmy Miami — CNBC
Peggy Fucci, CEO of Ft Lauderdale-based real estate broker OneWorld properties, says she doesn’t think the recent  capital controls are going to stop Chinese investment in US real estate, and she thinks Miami’s growing property market is attractive: "I think that Miami has a lot of growing up to do and there's still a lot of room for growth in Miami," she said. "The real estate market is a long-term play not just a short-term.”

China's Breakneck Metro System Growth, in One Amazing GIF — That’s Shanghai
Just click through. It’s pretty impressive.

China-Latin America

Billionaire Slim eyeing electric taxi to reduce pollution in Mexico City — Reuters
Carlos Slim’s Giant Motors — which in February announced with China's JAC Motors and Japan's Chori Co, said they would invest some $210 million — is joining with a subsidiary of Grupo Bimbo to produce the environmentally friendly car that will eventually replace part of Mexico City's more than 130,000 registered cabs.

Chinese firms should prepare to deal with fallout from mounting crisis in Brazil — Global Times
Official English language newspaper of the Chinese government notes that the Chinese embassy in Brasilia advised Chinese citizens and firms to avoid crowded places in the coming six months around concerns from protests against embattled Brazilian President Michel Temer. According to the Foreign Ministry, China's total Foreign Direct Investment in Brazil currently amounts to at least $30 billion, mainly in infrastructure, energy exploration and transport facilities.

Chinese wine group buys three vinyards in Chile — Xinhua
Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine has signed an agreement with Chile's Bethia group to buy three vineyards in Chile for over $50m; the deal is to be completed this month. Changyu already has operations in China, France, Italy and New Zealand.

Chinese, European firms express interest in Chile-Argentina tunnel — A Times
Chile and Argentina are looking to build a $1.5 b tunnel under the Andes mountains to connect Argentina’s San Juan and Chile’s Coquimbo. Power China and the Chinese Communications Construction Company, Spain’s OHL and FCC, and Italy’s Astaldi and Salini Impregilo have all bid on the project, according to the Chilean ministry of public works.

Latin America should not be left out of B&R initiative — Global Times
A Mexico-based analyst argues for the need to include Latin America in the Belt and Road Initiative due to the fact that "China's presence through trade and infrastructure in the region means that the framework of collaboration is already in place for the B&R to have a smooth transition to the Southern Hemisphere.”

Barbados and China celebrate long-standing diplomatic relations — Barbados Advocate
Barbados and China celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations.

Asia-Latin America

Medytox bolsters presence in Latin America — Korea Times
Medytox, Korea’s largest maker of botulinum toxin and dermal fillers, is looking to capitalize on Latin America’s rich and storied tradition of cosmetic beauty investment. Brazil is Medytox’s third-largest export market, and Medytox has access to 13 other countries in the region.

GCC eyes closer ties with commodity-rich Latin America — Zawya
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is looking to promote commercial ties between the Gulf and Latin America. In April, Dubai opened a trade mission in São Paulo, and is considering establishing another one in Argentina. But deeper connections are hampered by GCC unfamiliarity with tax systems, bureaucracy, corruption, and the lack of bilateral trade agreements.

China Econ/Policy

CR Land Adds $385M Acquisition to $4.7B in Chinese London Deals in 4 Months — Mingtiandi
China Resources Land has made its first major overseas investment, partnering with a European REIT to acquire a an office building in the City of London for £300m ($384.6m). The property, 20 Gresham Street, is located near St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England in London’s financial district and offers 242,807 square feet (22,558 square metres) of office space.

Anbang Buys Amsterdam Hotel from Blackstone for $392M — Mingtiandi
Don’t call it a comeback: Anbang Group bought the 557-room DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station hotel in Holland from US private equity group Blackstone for €350m ($391.6m). This is the fourth hotel Anbang has bought from Blackstone, starting with the Waldorf Astoria in 2014.

China Life Takes 95% Stake in $950M US Real Estate Portfolio — Mingtiandi
Mainland insurer China Life is taking a 95 percent stake in a portfolio of US logistics and manufacturing centres, business parks and healthcare facilities valued at nearly $1 b. The joint venture’s portfolio initially comprises 48 single-tenant properties aggregating more than 5.5 m square feet across 20 states.

CIC to buy Blackstone's €12bn Logicor — EGi
China Investment Corporation is set to buy the 630-asset logistics business Logicor for more than €12b ($13.5b). The purchase of the 146.4m sq ft warehouse property ownership platform will become the largest European real estate deal. Mapletree Investments with Temasek Holdings out of Singapore and Global Logistic Properties, the largest owner of logistics properties in Asia.

The biggest political story in China is centered at a $68 million apartment overlooking Central Park — NYT
A good summary of the ongoing weirdness surrounding the corruption accusations leveled by Guo Wengui against Chinese leadership. After China asked Interpol to put out a red notice on him:

But then something unexpected happened. China stood down. The state media campaign against him tapered off. In mid-May, Mr. Guo announced on Twitter that his wife and daughter — previously barred from leaving China — had been allowed to visit him in New York.

What caused this turnaround, and what this means for Guo’s claims against HNA, is unclear.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 26 May 2017

Highlights

Why China Must Figure Out How to Feed the Whole World — Bloomberg
Worth it just for the opening gif, this article is a great overview of how China is tackling the challenge of feeding over 1 billion people (one third of which are now expanding into middle class, meat-rich diets) in a world where we’ll need to feed 9 billion people by the middle of the century. Read the whole thing, but the first map is one of the more striking facts.

Miami International Airport officials attempt to land Tokyo-Miami flights — South Florida Business Journal
MIA’s Asia Task Force met with representatives of Japan Air Lines (JAL) last week in Miami to discuss the potential for non-stop flights between Tokyo and Miami. According to MIA, there are more than 415,000 passengers traveling between Asia and Miami, making Miami the busiest U.S. market for travel to Asia that does not have nonstop passenger flights.

Brazil’s Car Wash Scandal Reveals a Country Soaked in Corruption — Bloomberg
Eurasia Group is saying there’s a 70% chance President Michel Temer won’t make it to the end of his term on Jan 1, 2019. This week’s mass protests which culminated with the torching of a government building in Brasília certainly don’t look good, to say nothing of political allies looking for the proverbial exits. This #longread from Bloomberg is good for putting context to Brazil’s perpetual crisis, and what, if anything, will change.

China-Latin America

China's CNPC to invest $2 billion in Peru oil, gas block: Perupetro — Reuters
State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) plans to invest $2 billion in an oil and natural gas block in southern Peru in coming years, according to Rafael Zoeger, the head of Peru's state energy agency Perupetro. CNPC's block 58 has some 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, according to government data, enough to increase Peru's total gas reserves by 27.7 percent. The CNPC block is in the Cusco department next to the extant Camisea natural gas field.

China supports construction of modern emergency operations center in Peru — Andina
China’s government is funding construction of a modern National Emergency Operations Center (COER) to supplement Peru's National Civil Defense Institute's (Indeci) emergency response capacity. The $16.8 million center is being funding by the state China Aid program.

Why Argentina’s Macri Switched Gears on China, Now His Favorite Business Partner — World Politics Review
Argentina reafirma sus lazos con Asia y consolida su inserción en el mundo — Invest and Trade Argentina
The first article oversells Macri’s (and Argentina’s) about-face - Macri’s family has been doing business with China for decades, and Macri is just leaning back from CFK’s “all-in” approach to getting Chinese financing to support her crippled economic policy. However, the piece is interesting for noting the agreements signed at the Belt and Road Forum that totaled "more than $30 billion of Chinese investments in Argentina on everything from energy and agriculture to transportation and mining, capped by a Chinese plan to build two nuclear power plants at a cost of $12.5 billion.”

The Argentine Agency for Investment and International Business, for it’s part, provides a bit more detail on the agreements, which they say are only $15 billion in investments. The Atucha III nuclear plant begins construction next year, and the other plant will not break ground until 2020.

Chile shares China's vision of integrated future — Belt and Road Portal
Chile is looking to plug into China. "China, given its population, economic scale and projection, is the future, the future of the global economy and the future of innovation: the knowledge-based economy,” says Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz. The article notes that Chile signed e-commerce agreements with China's online retailer Tmall.com, adding to existing accords with Chinese online retail giant Alibaba. The accords seem similar to those signed by Argentina last month.

Asia-Latin America

Japan finances Buenos Aires Automatic Train Stop rollout — Rail Journal
Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is going to finance the rollout of Automatic Train Stop (ATS) on the Buenos Aires suburban rail network. The $49.5 million loan is cofinanced by the Tokyo branch of Deutsche Bank and covers 85% of the procurement cost for the system, which will be rolled out on all eight lines covering 1500km of track and 280 trains over the next four years. The equipment is being procured through Marubeni Corporation and will be manufactured in Japan by Nippon Signal.

Korea Southern Power Co. constructs plant in Chile — Korea Herald
Korea Southern Power has built an independent power plant in Chile, the first by a Korean company. The 517 megawatt Kelar plant is in the Mejillones region located in the port city of Antofagasta. While the type of power plant is not specified (although it’s likely natgas), it is expected to supply 25% of the regional energy needs.

China Econ/Policy

China Spends $16.5B on US Commercial Real Estate in 12 Months to Claim Top Investor Spot — Mingtiandi
The Trump effect hasn’t been felt in real estate yet. China surpassed Canada as the top investor in US commercial real estate in the 12 months ending March 31st – pouring over $16.5 billion into US properties. At $60.9 billion, overall global investment in the US was down 39 percent from its 2007 peak. China’s investments in the US market grew by 10 percent year-on-year, accounting for 22.8% of investment in the US. Real Capital Analytics (RCA) provided this information in the latest edition of their US Cross-Border Investment Compendium report.

Chinese publisher pays $68M for Midtown dev site — The Real Deal
WanXin Media purchased a Midtown office building and vacant lot at 7-15 West 44th Street for $68 million. According to a statement, WanXin, a Chinese publishing company, plans “to develop a boutique luxury hotel and Chinese cultural center” on the site, which has 90,000 buildable square feet. The site is down the block from the Algonquin Hotel, famous for it’s round table.

Belts, Roads, and Strategic Trade Policy — NYT
Nobel laureate Paul Krugman goes back to his economic geography roots, and notes that in addition to being good for China’s dwesmtic market; "Good highways across central Asia and down to South Asia could change that, giving China a new centrality in the world’s economic geography.”

A Silk Road to South America? — China.org.cn
This is a very odd piece in support of the Belt and Road Initiative from a very statist, top-down point of view. The closest it gets to talking about private sector participation is referencing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.