Asia-Latin America Round-up — 19 May 2017

Highlights

Real estate buyers from China, elsewhere in Asia increasingly eye Miami — Miami Herald
An overview of where things stand on Asian investment in South Florida, noting recent transactions. Of interest: While speaking on a panel at the AREAA conference, Greg Owens from Miami International Airport affirmed that MIA is ready and eager to finalize a new route agreement with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, and expects it to happen within 24 months.

U.S. Strikes China Trade Deals but Leaves Major Issues Untouched — NYT
Last week the United States reached a set of trade deals with China covering areas like electronic payment services, beef, and poultry, compromising on some Obama administration stances but leaving untouched bigger issues. Under the newly announced deals, China set a deadline for fulfilling its promises to allow American beef and said it would speed up consideration of pending American applications to offer bioengineered seeds in China. It will also allow foreign-owned firms to provide credit-rating services in China, publish guidelines to let American firms offer electronic payment services there, and issue licenses to two American financial institutions to underwrite bonds. In return, the US sent a sub-cabinet level representative to the Belt and Road Forum.

Trump Administration Notifies Congress of Intent to Launch Nafta Talks — WSJ
USTR Robert Lighthizer informed U.S. lawmakers that the administration intends to launch formal negotiations on overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement. Talks will start in as soon as 90 days, in line with Trade Promotion Authority rules. Currency, rule of origin issues, Mexican sugar, and Canadian softwood lumber will all be areas of discussion, but exact goals will not be known until 30 days before negotiations begin. The administration expects to end negotiations by the end of the year, ahead of the 2018 Mexican presidential elections.

Gov. Jerry Brown heading to China to talk climate change — Los Angeles Times
The first week of June, the Governor Moonbeam plans to attend an international summit on clean energy in Beijing. The summit brings together cities, states and provinces who have signed an international agreement promoted by Brown to reduce emissions at faster rates than called for under the Paris agreement on global warming.

Intermediário de Temer ofereceu a Joesley cargos no BC, Receita, CVM e Cade — O Globo       
Aécio Neves pediu R$ 2 milhões, diz dono da JBS em delação — Estadão
Leaked recordings are trouble for Michel Temer — The Economist
Wednesday night O Globo reported that Brazilian President Michel Temer had been caught on tape talking two months ago with one of the owners of meatpacking giant JBS about bribing the former house speaker, who is currently in jail on (other) bribery charges. While Temer is unpopular and bribery is not a good look, he has refused to resign and his allies have theoretical control of the Congress. How long they remain his allies remains to be seen.

China-Latin America

When China sneezes, LatAm…. — Bloggings by Boz
April data out of China shows the country’s economic growth slowing down. As our friend James Bosworth notes: 

The last time Latin America had an economic boom, it was partially driven by Chinese demand for local products and Chinese economic growth pushing up commodity prices globally. While China is not to blame for the Western Hemisphere’s current lackluster economic growth, the data coming from China also show that Beijing won’t be coming to rescue Latin America’s economies any time soon.

Caribbean Bank Wants Chinese Money No One Else Will Touch — Bloomberg
British Virgin Islands goes after Chinese money — SupChina
A BVI entity known as the Bank of Asia is looking to cater to offshore Chinese companies locked out of the global banking system following the release of the Panama Papers. The bank is set to open up for a soft launch within Q3 2017. As Bloomberg notes, China and Hong Kong-linked firms “accounted for almost a third of the offshore companies created by Mossack Fonseca,” the law firm whose papers were exposed in the leak.

Uruguay hopes to join China’s B&R initiative — Global Times
An interview with Fernando Lugris, the Uruguayan Ambassador to China, highlights the country’s interest in engaging formally with the Belt and Road Initiative, which so far no Latin American country has done.

Las 16 megaobras que China financiará y desarrollará en la Argentina — Ámbito Financiero
Argentina and China signed a “5 Year Infrastructure Cooperation Plan” last month in Beijing.  The plan, backed by China’s NDRC, calls for rail line rehabilitation, nuclear, solar, wind ,and hydro power plants, and electricity transmission lines. The announcement does not identify how these projects will be financed. 

Unit of China's BYD to invest $100 mln in Argentina — Reuters
Automobile manufacturer CTS Auto, a subsidiary of China's BYD Co Ltd,, plans to invest an initial $100 million to build electric buses in Argentina. The deal came on the heels of President Mauricio Macri’s visit to China.

Chile-China MOU will boost mutual trade — Fruitnet
Chile’s domination of the Chinese fruit market continues. Asoex — Chile’s export association — has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China’s Association for the Promotion of Quality and Safety of China’s Consumer Products (CPQS), part of AQSIQ, to increase cooperation on trade between the two countries. The signing ceremony took place during an official tour of President Michelle Bachelet to China and Indonesia. The MOU commits both sides to share information in several areas related to the fruit trade such as quality and safety management systems and quarantine and inspection standards.

China Econ/Policy

Wanda Backs Away From London Project as Deal String Slows — Mingtiandi
Dalian Wanda has let a lock-out period expire on talks to acquire a second site in south-central London next to its One Nine Elms project. Wanda failed to reach agreement to purchase the 10.2 acre project after exclusive talks to acquire the residential site expired without a deal.  Wanda already owns the One Nine Elms mixed-use project directly adjacent, but has struggled to make progress on construction on that project, while slackening demand for homes in the neighborhood has led to a decline in prices in the area.

China Minsheng Buys 80% Stake in SF Bayside Project for Reported $100M — Mingtiandi
A real estate developer controlled by China’s Minsheng Investment Group acquired an 80 percent interest in a fully entitled luxury residential site located two blocks away from the Bay Bridge for approximately $100 million. Minsheng is in a joint venture with a fund controlled by New York-based real estate firm Paramount Group and an affiliate of Chicago-based developer The John Buck Company. The joint venture plans to develop the site into a 21-storey, 120-unit luxury condominium project with a ground-floor restaurant, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).

Trade pact dumped by Trump could be revived at Asia-Pacific meeting — Reuters
Zombie TPP stumbles forward — Bloggings boy Boz
Trade ministers will talk on the sidelines of this weekend’s APEC meeting in Hanoi about reviving the TPP without the United States. As Boz says: 

TPP-11 would be an important way for Asian and Latin American economies to integrate with each other and increase trade to new markets. It would be a significant counter-weight to the RCEP agreement being promoted by China. RCEP negotiations are supposed to conclude this year but are being held up by several difficult final pieces including some tough negotiation positions by India.

Trump Trade Reboot Spurs U.S. Push by China’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund — WSJ
China Investment Corp. is opening a New York office on Friday, in a sign that relations across the Pacific may not be as bad as some feared. Some key quotes from the head of CIC:

“There is a potential for Chinese companies to make more investments in the U.S. and vice versa,” said President Tu Guangshao in an interview. “We want to build up mutual trust.”

CIC had avoided a U.S. presence for years, frustrated by the investment environment there. “U.S. regulators have been hard on us,” Mr. Tu said. “We can’t even name one symbolic direct investment in America.”

Mr. Tu said CIC is now casting an eager eye at U.S. projects such as highways, rail lines and high-tech manufacturing plants, looking to generate steady, long-term returns.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 12 May 2017

Highlights

Chinese construction giant to buy stake in Hudson Square dev site in $140M deal — The Real Deal
China Construction America (CCA) entered contract this week to acquire the vast majority of a development site at 537 Greenwich Street and 110 Charlton Street, with 229,000 buildable square feet. The deal for an undisclosed amount would value the site at north of $140 million, or $625 per buildable square foot, sources told The Real Deal. Cape Advisors, the other owners, plans for a 27-story, 167-unit residential property on the site. The article says CCA has also recently approved $1 billion worth of equity investment in public-private partnership projects.

Jack Ma courts Midwest America in bid to raise exports to China — FT
The Alibaba chief has begun laying out plans to bring 1m small businesses to the group’s platform, talking about them on a conference call earlier this week. His comments touched on the June conference Alibaba will host in Detroit, the “first key driver” of a campaign to encourage US farmers and businesses to export to China:

Mr Trump was “very excited and supportive” of the plan, said Mr Ma, who supports his bid to promote “made in America” products. 

“[Trump] said the American Midwest is the centre, where there are so many small and medium-sized companies,” said Mr Ma on a conference call with reporters. “China has 300m middle class [shoppers]. We need good stuff from outside China . . . Trump said Midwest America is definitely the place.” 

In a Beijing ballroom, Kushner family pushes $500,000 ‘investor visa’ to wealthy Chinese — Washington Post
Jared Kushner’s Sister Highlights Family Ties in Pitch to Chinese Investors — NYT
Last weekend the Kushner Companies held an event — along with the Chinese company Qiaowai, which connects U.S. companies with Chinese investors — to pitch investment in their Journal Square project in New Jersey. They are looking to get Chinese investors under the EB-5 via program, that allows foreign investors a visa if they invest half a million dollars in specially defined projects. Highlighting the fact that Jared Kushner is the US President’s son-in-law was received poorly by observers.

China-Latin America

Ecuador dips toe into Chinese mango market — Fruitnet

Ecuador is evaluating the results of its first mango campaign in China after securing access to the market late last year. Having taken their first tentative steps with small volumes of airflown fruit, shippers are assessing the performance of different varieties and fine-tuning their programmes in preparation for next season.

China, key partner for Argentina's agricultural sector — Xinhua
Argentina has been named the guest of honor at SIAL China 2017 — Asia's largest food innovation exhibition, to be held in Shanghai from May 17-19 — in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishing of diplomatic ties. Last week Argentina's Agency of International Investments and Trade (AAICI) signed a deal with Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, so that products from Argentinean SMEs could be sold on Alibaba's electronic platform.

Xiaomi expands in Latin America via Mexico — CNET
TheChinese smartphone maker on Tuesday said it would start selling two of its phones, the Redmi Note 4 and the Redmi 4X, in Mexico. Xiami also launched a mobile app for its fans called the "Mi Community LATAM.” Mexico is a first step for deeper penetration of Latin America, per the firm:

"Mexico is a really important market for us and acts as our starting point to reach the rest of Latin America," Donovan Sung, director of product management and marketing for Xiaomi Global, said in a press release. "We hope to continue growing our presence here with the constant support of our passionate Mi fans.”

Mexico warns U.S. of alternatives on trade, points to China — Reuters
Mexico’s economic minister is using upcoming bilateral meetings with China to send a message to the current US administration that Latin America's No. 2 economy "has lots of other alternatives" amid tense trade negotiations.

China Econ/Policy

Music Video: The Belt and Road is How — New China TV
Kids from Belt and Road countries get you ready for next week’s conference with a song and video (with rap break) that has been on constant rotation in the Novam Portam offices.

B&R can build links to South America — Global Times
Jorge Heine, Chile’s Ambassador to China, pens an op-ed in an official paper ahead of next week’s meeting. He notes that for Brazil, Chile and Peru, China is already their No.1 trading partner, and that if Southern Cone nations want to increase their share in the Chinese market, they need to invest in infrastructure. He says Chinese construction companies are especially well-positioned to build that infrastructure, and entities such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Chinese policy banks or the China-Latin America funds should be available for such projects.

Tightened Belt: China Skimps on Its Grand Trade Plan — WSJ
China faces resistance to a cherished theme of its foreign policy — The Economist
These pieces highlight some of the strategic shortcomings of the One Belt One Road project. Per the Economist, the scheme is running into three linked problems: it is unclear what its priorities are, or who is running it; finding enough profitable projects to match its vaulting ambitions; and locals in some countries are angry about what they view as China’s heavy-handedness. There’s also an interesting bit in the Economist about how the project’s name has evolved from “Silk Road economic belt” to "Yidai Yilu" (One [land] Belt, One [maritime] Road) to now the Belt and Road Forum — which the magazine helpfully points out becomes BARF as an acronym.

Opinion | China is bent on world domination — but not in the way you think — Washington Post
The Post’s conservative op-ed writer Fred Hiatt rings the alarm bell on China’s global pretensions:

China is bent on world domination — not with its missiles and aircraft carriers, but by controlling solar energy, cloud computing and other industries of the future. 

That is an only slightly exaggerated version of a warning coming from the American chamber of commerce in China. It sent a delegation to Washington last week to warn that “China’s aggressive mercantilist policies are one of the most serious threats facing the future of U.S. advanced technology sectors,” as their policy paper says — and that the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to counter the threat.

Chinese Millennials—Already Big Homeowners—Use Apps to Snap Up Overseas Property — WSJ
According to the WSJ, about 70% of Chinese millennials, own a home, the highest share of respondents from nine countries and regions who were surveyed in a recent HSBC study. Chinese parents often register home purchases under their child’s name to prepare the child for marriage and raising a family, which likely boosts the percentage. Purchases abroad are increasing, as a hedge against yuan depreciation and to find affordable homes in cities with cleaner air.

Is China the World’s New Colonial Power? — NYT
Betteridge's law of headlines states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” However, this extensive profile of China’s eoncomoic and commercial presence in Africa highlights many practices — importing Chinese workers, ignoring environmental issues, buying off local decision-makers, among others — that local policy-makers in Latin America have expressed to us as they consider engaging China. Addressing these challenges, both on the investing side and on the host country side, will be key to ensuring that Chinese investment overseas continues to be welcomed.

Warren Buffett has many fans in China but few true followers — The Economist
A brief article highlighting the activities of Chinese businessmen who have been likened to the Oracle of Omaha, including Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun, and Wu Xiaohui of Anbang. The article points out that these entrepreneurs have been acting in a very un-Buffett-like way, taking on debt and making speculative investments. Companies which have been more Buffett-like tend to be "big, boring, mainly state-owned insurers. Hewing to official rules, they have been more cautious about using debt."

Chinese Estates Buys Listed London Building for ₤175M — Mingtiandi
Hong Kong based China Estates has bought 11-12 St James’s Square, a listed commercial building in London’s West End from the Employees’ Provident Wealth Fund of Malaysia for ₤174.9 million ($227 million).

Sino-Ocean Land Buys SF Office Building From Gaw Affiliate for $42M — Mingtiandi
Beijing-based Sino-Ocean Land — a subsidiary of food processing conglomerate COFCO — purchased 1161 Mission Street, a 65,000 square foot office building in San Francisco for $42 million, or $640 per square foot.

American Universities Are Welcoming China’s Trojan Horse — Foreign Policy
Article highlights some of the problems that universities have had with China’s Confucius Institutes. The author says Confucius Institutes serve as a vehicle for Chinese propaganda, restricting what the teachers they supply from China can say, distorting what students learn, and pressuring American professors to censor themselves. As a result, the University of Chicago, Penn State, Sweden’s Stockholm University, France’s Lyon University, and McMaster University in Canada have all closed their Confucius Institutes.

A Chinese Giant Is on a Global Buying Spree. Who’s Behind It? — NYT
A good background of the HNA group, that has grown from a early 90s founding to go on a global spending spree. The hook is accusations last week by Mar-a-lago gadfly Guo Wengui that relatives of a senior Chinese leader, Wang Qishan, had a stake in the company.

Why Tencent will be the biggest company in the world by 2025 — Vito Petan
A profile of Tencent Holdings, the WeChat owner that in April broke into top 10 largest companies in the world with a $305 billion valuation.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 5 May 2017

Highlights

Chinese Conglomerate HNA: ‘Everyone Is Passionate, Full of Hormones, Dying to Achieve Things’ — WSJ
Chinese Conglomerate HNA Becomes Deutsche Bank’s Biggest Shareholder — WSJ
The Wall Street Journal has profiled the acquisitive HNA Group, noting that after $6 billion in overseas acquisitions to the end of 2015, last year the company spent almost $30 billion outside of China. The company's total assets, at around $146 billion in 2016, grew more than four times since 2010, when the company first started acquiring overseas companies. Separately, HNA has now become the largest shareholder in Deutsche Bank, raised its stake to 9.92% through a UK subsidiary. 

China’s scrutiny of capital outflow could crush trophy US deals: former China Orient exec — The Real Deal
Ludwig Chang, the recently retired co-founder of COAMC International, a subsidiary of leading state-owned asset management firm China Orient Asset Management, said the Chinese government is taking a skeptical look at moves to buy major real estate assets in the U.S. – and that clampdown may have already caused some casualties:

“Some insurance companies, who shall remain unnamed, have had two or three failed transactions,” he said. “One was a building on Fifth Avenue that was quite well known. I think those are the handiwork of the new insurance regulatory regime.”

After Failed Talks With Kushner, More Trouble for a Chinese Tycoon — NYT
Rumors circulate of Chinese government detaining Anbang chief Wu Xiaohui — The Real Deal
Anbang Threatens Lawsuits, Denies Reports of Wu’s Detainment — Mingtiandi
After pulling out of a potential deal to invest in Kushner Co’s 666 Fifth Avenue, Anbang Insurance has had a bad week. First, there were rumors that chief Wu Xiaohui had been detained by Chinese authorities. This follows a similar incident over a year ago in which the head of Fosun was detained at Shanghai airport for 48 hours to “assist in an investigation.” More concerning are allegations made in Caixin, as reported by the NYT:

“Anbang’s shareholder structure is like a maze,” Caixin said in an article published online on Saturday and in print on Monday. It said that Anbang’s meteoric growth and acquisitions raised suspicions of financial sleight of hand, including capital injections coming from companies linked to Mr. Wu. “The left hand has been helping the right hand to inflate capital,” the article said.

China-Latin America

China’s Warming Relations with Mexico — Inter-American Dialogue
After years of what many have considered to be strained relations between China and Mexico, the two countries are slowly warming to one another. A series of deals and agreements—some of them with hefty price tags—have materialized in recent months in a number of potentially growth-promoting sectors.  As of 2015, Mexico exported around $6 billion to China, but imported over $60 billion from the Asian nation. the IFC’s China-Mexico Fund made its first investment in Mexico— a $140 million commitment to US-backed Citla Energy—just last year. The $1.2 billion fund also plans to target Mexico’s manufacturing, agribusiness, services, and banking sectors. Huawei is a critical partner in Red Compartida, a Mexican government initiative to build an open-access wholesale wireless network that will cover 92.2% of the country’s population. 

Alibaba continues to expand its platform with new Argentina agreement — The Street
Alibaba: acuerdo con el Gobierno y planes para abrir una oficina — Clarín
Jack Ma paid a courtesy call to Argentina President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires this week. They signed an MOU that declares Alibaba's e-commerce platforms “official channels” for two of Argentina’s main exports: wine and fresh foods. According to Clarín, "next month, Ma plans to analyze the possibility of putting an Alibaba office in Argentina”

Asia-Latin America

1st Japan House promotion center opens in Sao Paulo — The Mainichi
Sao Paulo, the Japanese cultural hub of Latin America — The Japan Times
The first Japan House communication center to promote the country's culture and arts overseas held an opening ceremony Sunday in Sao Paulo attended by Brazilian President Michel Temer and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso. Japan also plans to open the cultural promotion facility in London and Los Angeles this year. São Paulo is reputed to be the city with the largest population of people of Japanese descent outside of Japan.

Infosys plans to hire 10,000 U.S. workers after Trump targets outsourcing firms — Reuters
India-based IT services firm Infosys plans to hire 10,000 U.S. workers in the next two years and open four technology centers in the United States, starting with a center this August in Indiana. 

Miami’s real estate drawing Middle Eastern buyers — Miami Herald
Local broker Farid Moussallem notes that every month, the Miami Association of Realtors announces the top 10 foreign countries that use its website to search for Miami real estate. This list typically features the “usual suspects” month after month, such as Colombia, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and France. However, the most recently published report (from January 2017) included an unfamiliar newcomer: Turkey, ranked at No. 7. Despite the rhetoric in Washington DC, according to Moussallem: "The prosperous Middle Eastern individuals with whom I work do not feel unfairly ‘targeted' in any respect and feel no need to protest or complain."

China Econ/Policy

Can China Become the World’s Clean Energy Leader? — CFR
China holds a third of the global market share for hydropower, wind power, and solar energy. The country’s private sector invested $32 billion in 2016 toward international clean energy projects, adding to the $102.9 billion invested a year prior by the government into domestic renewable energy. Many of these investments were made in major developing countries, including Brazil. The surge has been driven by two primary factors: the first is air pollution; the second factor is energy security. The authorities see diversifying energy sources, especially building up clean energy, will be key for China’s energy security.

Huawei, Chinese Technology Giant, Is Focus of Widening U.S. Investigation — NYT
The Gray Lady Seems Pretty Gray About Export Law — Export Law Blog
Late last year the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) sent a subpoena to Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei. The subpoena, according to the newspaper, asks for information on the company’s dealings with “Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria over the past five years.” Worth noting that Huawei has not been accused of wrongdoing — as an administrative subpoena, the Treasury document does not indicate that the Chinese company is part of a criminal investigation.

CIC Plans to Boost Overseas Investment — Bloomberg
One fourth of CIC’s $800 billion in AUM is invested outside of China. CIC see itself as a potential matchmaker between companies it is investing in overseas and the Chinese market. In this video, CIC EVP Bin Qi also sees the need for China to improve attractiveness to institutional investors.

China’s Credit Slowdown Poses a Threat to Global Growth — WSJ
Given China’s weight in the global economy, the constraints on credit growth and currency exports being pursued by the authorities are seen as weighing down on the global economy, and in particular Latin American companies: "The reason to be concerned about China now is that a slowdown in credit hurts growth and could spread to the rest of the world, piling pressure on commodity producers."

Trump, who likes to do business by phone, is acquiring a reputation for pestering Xi, China's president — NYT
Live by the phone, die by the phone. Apparently Donald Trump, known for liking the personal touch that phone calls give him, is being a little too thirsty with reaching out to President Xi Jinping. Chinese officials state that Xi does not appreciate being treated like a midlevel official.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 28 Apr 2017

Highlights

Ant Financial sees rich opportunities — China Daily
Alibaba’s financial arm, Ant Financial, is to extend its indigenous mobile payment technologies to economies along the Belt and Road Initiative and unveil a number of Alipay-like services this year. The firm is counting on partners outside China to bring its model of online finance and local services to its target markets in emerging Asia.

Alibaba quer entrar no mercado de crédito no Brasil — Estado de São Paulo
Jack Ma syas he wants to provide credit services in Brazil - "We want to invest in e-commerce, logistics and inclusive financing.” However, details on the investment and what credit services they would provide are not spelled out. Per the Estadão, Alibaba started operations in Brazil in 2014 but has faced hurdles over logistics and the monitoring of product authenticity on its website.

International millennial buyers are eyeing Miami luxury real estate: AREAA panel — The Real Deal
According to panelists at an the Asian Real Estate Association of America event, a small, high net-worth segment of millennials are increasingly shopping for homes in South Florida. Karen Chau, Asia general manager for real estate tech company Investorist, says that Chinese millennials are bullish on real estate.

China-Latin America

China: Shenzhen is first choice port of entry for Chilean cherries — Fresh Plaza
The Chilean cherry juggernaut continues. In the five months ending in March, 75,600 tons were exported to China, a 25% increase on the same period last year. Shenzhen alone received 61,000 tons, or 80% of all Chilean cherries exported to China in that period, an increase 41%.

China Communications Construction Company plans to invest in Brazil — Macauhub
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) intends to expand its presence in Brazil, the largest market in Latin America, by carrying out projects from scratch, Chang Yunbo, chief executive of CCCC South America, told the Brazilian press recently. Last year CCCC acquired a stake of 80% in Brazilian company Concremat – Soluções Integradas de Engenharia and signed a contract to buy 51% of a new port in São Luís, Maranhão state, to be built under a partnership with WPR, a subsidiary of Brazilian group WTorre. The port construction will cost an estimated 1.7 billion reais (US$545 million) and will take three years to complete.

Avocado imports soar as China develops taste for ‘butter fruit’ — FT

Exports of avocados from Latin American (especially Mexico and Chile) are growing by about 250 per cent a year, from just 154 tonnes in 2012 to more than 25,000 tonnes in 2016. Chile has the advantage of a free-trade agreement with China, while Mexico faces a 10 per cent tariff on fruit imports. Yum China, which operates 5,000 KFC stores in the country, last month launched an “avocado series” of chicken burgers and wraps slathered with guacamole to help upgrade the image of its fried chicken chain, sourcing the fruit from Mexico. Peru is getting into the act, with the first batch of Peruvian “Big Mac” avocados flown to China this month.

Chinese enterprises widen frontiers in Latin America winning appraisal — Xinhua
Interesting, if a little platitudinous, profiles of the experiences of seven Chinese companies doing business in Latin America, including Haier, JAC Motors, China Southern, CRRC, Gree (China's largest air conditioner producer), Yanjian Group, and China National Electronics Import & Export Corp. (CEIEC). However, the most interesting part may be the last paragraph:

Many Chinese enterprises in Latin America believe there are still great challenges for them to do business in the continent, due to long distance, disparate standards, absent policy backup and financial constraints. But the big market and the local people will keep them staying on, no matter how hard it will be.

China becomes Brazil's biggest investor so far in 2017 — Xinhua
Through mid-April, Chinese investors spent $5.67b on M&A in Brazil, representing 37.5% of total investment in the country.

China makes record investment in Argentina’s mining sector — Latin Lawyer
State-owned Chinese mining company Shandong Gold is to purchase a 50% stake in Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine for $960m. The deal will also see the two firms look at jointly developing the nearby undeveloped Pascua-Lama gold and silver project which straddles the border of Argentina and Chile, as well as additional investment opportunities on the El Indio Gold Belt. Shandong Gold is affiliated with the provincial government of Shandong.

Asia-Latin America

Zee forays into Latin America — India Today
Zee Entertainment Enterprises — the Indian content company — has launched an expansion into Latin America with its Spanish-language Bollywood movie channel, Zee Mundo, in Mexico and Ecuador. Zee Mundo is headquartered in Miami.

China Econ/Policy

China lifts renminbi capital controls as outflows pressure eases — FT
China Eases Capital Controls – But Not Very Much — Mingtiandi
Financial institutions are no longer required to maintain a balance of inflows and outflows when processing cross-border renminbi payments, reversing a decision made by the PBOC (China’s Central Bank) in January. This may suggests the authorities are increasingly confident they have weathered the country’s worst-ever bout of capital outflow. David Green-Morgan, Global Capital Markets Research Director at JLL in Singapore tells Mingtiandi that it’s a small tweaking that won’t substantially change things, however that’s not necessarily bad, because there are deals still being done: “There’s still a number of Chinese deals going on around the world, so I suspect this is just maybe tweaking the fine print slightly. I think it’s such a small change in the regulations that I don’t see it significantly impacting on the amount of money that’s flowing. Certainly in the real estate space we continue to see pretty strong demand from China on the residential side and the commercial side,” he says.

China Seeks Arrest of Billionaire Who Accused Officials’ Relatives of Graft — NYT
He Tweeted About Chinese Government Corruption. Twitter Suspended His Account — NYT
The plot around Guo Wengui thickens. The former Chinese crony, later Chinese corruption whistleblower, and more recent Mar-a-Lago gadfly would seem to see the Chinese noose tightening around him. The Chinese government says it has asked Interpol to issue a so-called red notice to its member countries for Guo’s arrest, but his name does not appear on Interpol’s wanted list (a country can request that wanted notices not be publicized). Ominously, Guo’s Twitter account was apparently suspended for about four hours before it was restored

Will China-led development banks get the coveted boost to shape a new financial world order? — SCMP
The BRICS Bank (technically the New Development Bank) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), are seeking credit ratings from Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch, a vital step for them to borrow money in global capital markets and a key factor in deciding their financing costs. This will allow them to diversify the lending products they provide for development in the Emerging Markets they work in.

Chinese ambassador says relationship with US is improving, and that’s good for NYC real estate — The Real Deal
China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai says the relationship between the two countries has improved markedly since Donald Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping met in Florida earlier this month:

“Frankly, maybe many of you were a bit concerned at the end of last year and the beginning of this year about where this relationship was going. I think for a while the word uncertainty dominated discussions about this relationship. But fortunately, thanks to the joint effort of so many people, things have turned for the better.”

China, Sending a Signal, Launches a Home-Built Aircraft Carrier — NYT
China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier slipped into the sea for the first time this week. It won’t be seaworthy for at least another three years, but is a powerful symbol for the growing strength of China on the global stage.

The Rise of China's New Consumer Class — Goldman Sachs
A little dated, but well-put together infographic on the rise of China’s middle class and it’s potential. The Chinese consumer market has seen enormous growth—and only 11% of the population has reached the middle class. As their ranks swell, so will their effect on the global economy. There will be huge opportunities for the entertainment, food service, technology and other industries.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 21 Apr 2017

Highlights

A Farmer Just Criticized Alibaba’s Push Into The Countryside — Fortune
Alibaba has been pushing to develop a rural e-commerce platform, Rural Taobao. In late 2014, it announced a five year plan to invest $1.6 billion to create 100,000 so called Rural Taobao centers. However, recently the push has slacked. Farmers who joined the service are complaining about meager incomes and Alibaba’s scaling back of commissions last year. There’s a growing cynicism about Alibaba’s intentions of helping rural villages sell their wares to the richer cities. The criticism is that Rural Taobao is looking more like a way to connect city sellers to the countryside than the other way around.

China’s Second-Richest Man Says the Government Scuttled His Deal for Dick Clark Productions — Fortune
Dalian Wanda founder Wang Jianlin, one of China's richest men, said in an interview with the FT that the country's recent capital controls prevented his company from acquiring Hollywood's Dick Clark Productions in what was expected to be a $1 billion deal. More interestingly, Wang also said pressure from certain players in the U.S. hampered the deal, though he did not identify who: “Policies have changed on both sides, so we gave up the acquisition,” Wang told the paper. “Both countries have changed their policy. Some people in the United States did not agree with our acquisitions, and some of the policies in China are changing.” Wanda's $8 billion production studio in Qingdao, which Wang has called "Hollywood of the East," is expected to open this summer.

PortMiami traffic with Asia rises 11% — Miami Today
PortMiami’s dredging is beginning to payoff. Asian service and volumes rose 11% in 2016 alone, said Assistant Port Director Kevin Lynskey. The growth comes as a result of $1.3 billion in capital infrastructure investments made to handle larger post-Panamax ships, according to the port. The port can now handle six post-Panamax ships a week.

China-Latin America

New flight route to boost China-Mexico tourism, trade — Xinhua
China Southern Airlines Vice President Han Wensheng was in Mexico for the inauguration on Tuesday of the carrier's new Guangzhou-to-Mexico City route, which will operate a Boeing 787 three times a week. This is the beginning of a greater turn to the region for China Southern, for both business and tourism, and they recognize they need to get the word out in China. Says Han: "Currently we are in talks with Mexico's Tourism Promotion Board, since the main goal is to increase knowledge about Mexico among the Chinese market to draw more passengers." 

China Development Bank approves loan for Argentine productive sectors — BNamericas
China’s policy banks are at it again. Argentina’s investment and foreign trade bank BICE and China Development Bank (CDB) signed an agreement under which BICE will receive a US$150mn loan for financing investment projects. The credit line will be used for financing productive investments such as SMEs, renewable energy projects, energy infrastructure, and agricultural and manufacturing goods.

China's CMG in talks for Advent's Brazil port stake — Reuters
China Merchants Group Ltd is in advanced talks to buy Advent International Corp's 50% stake in TCP Terminal de Contêineres de Paranaguá, Brazil’s second-busiest container port. Advent is supposed to be looking for at least R$3.5b ($1.1b) for the stake. Dubai-based DP World - which is looking to buy out Odebrecht's share of the Embraport container terminal at Brazil’s largest port, Santos - was also in the running for the stake, but those negotiations have "hit a snag."

Chinese drone-maker DJI looks to expand in LatAm — Shanghai Daily
DJI - which has 70% of the global drone market - is looking to expand in Latin America. They’ve seen notable growth of clients for electrical and telephone line inspections, as well as agriculture. Online sales of DJI drones in Latin America began in 2014, but the company had no physical presence in the region until January 2016 - although the article doesn’t bother to mention where they have a presence. According to a DJI rep, most sales in Latam are corporate, as the region's "very high tax burden" discourages average citizens from purchasing drones.

China’s HNA said buying stake in Brazil’s second busiest airport — South China Morning Post
China’s HNA Group goes on a global shopping spree — The Economist
HNA Group — owner of Hainan Airways and increasingly a global real estate empire — is rumored to be combining it’s two loves by picking up troubled construction company Odebrecht’s 30% stake in Rio’s international airport, Galeão. Timing and size of the deal still unclear. The Economist also profiled the group, noting that it is rumored to be bidding for Forbes magazine.

Asia-Latin America

Jamaica to Benefit from Japan-Funded Energy Project — Jamaica Information Service
Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) is launching a ¥300m ($2.7m) grant-funded energy efficiency project in the Caribbean. The three-year technical cooperation project will bolster the Government’s efforts to boost the country’s renewable energy generation capacity while enhancing energy efficiency. Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago are the countries targeted.

China Econ/Policy

R&F Properties Adds 2 Silicon Valley Projects to $9.6B in 2017 Deals — Mingtiandi
Looks like R&F Properties has picked up its fifth and sixth US property projects, adding a pair of Silicon Valley sites to the $9.6 billion in new overseas developments it has committed to this year. Last week it acquired the Park View Towers and North San Pedro Tower 3 residential projects in San Jose, California from local developer Swenson for an undisclosed sum. The already-entitled projects have more than 1 million square feet for over 500 residences across three acres. 

Few major Western leaders to attend Chinese summit — Miami Herald
Leaders of 28 countries are set to attend next month’s "One Belt, One Road” summit, but the only bold-faced names are Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Spain's Mariano Rajoy. It is unclear who will be attending from Latin America The program is closely linked to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's version of a global financial institution that faced US skepticism when it was announced in 2013.

One reason Trump changed his tune on China? He really likes the Chinese president — CNN
An analysis of the results from the Mar-a-Lago summit earlier this month show that the biggest driver of decision-making in the White House is personal relationships, and it turns out President Xi is a charmer.

For a true view of Chinese economy, look from the sky: N.Y. Fed — Reuters
Is Chinese Growth Overstated? — Liberty Street Economics
Mike’s former colleagues at the FRBNY use some innovative measures to track Chinese economic growth - looking at nighttime satellite images. Their research shows that despite fears sparked by the 2015 Chinese stock market correction, the Chinese economy did not go into downturn then, and now "there are few immediate indications that Chinese growth is being systematically overestimated."

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 14 Apr 2017

Highlights
Trump Lacks Staff for Trade Talks With China — WSJ
Trump Says He Offered China Better Trade Terms in Exchange for Help on North Korea — WSJ
Trump Says Dollar ‘Getting Too Strong,’ Won’t Label China a Currency Manipulator — WSJ
As is the case on many other policy issues, President Trump is hamstrung by the fact that he isn’t fielding a complete team on China. Last week’s summit with President Xi was quickly overshadowed, both by the limpid strike on Syria as well as by the fact that nothing was decided at the summit. While this will have a short term tactical benefit for Chinese investors looking to invest in the US — labeling China as a currency manipulator would have been a significant hurdle to bilateral trade and investment — more concerning is the fact that the President is leaning on (and potentially getting played by) adversarial leaders:

Mr. Trump said he told his Chinese counterpart he believed Beijing could easily take care of the North Korea threat. Mr. Xi then explained the history of China and Korea, Mr. Trump said.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Mr. Trump recounted. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power” over North Korea,” he said. “But it’s not what you would think.”

Silvio Berlusconi sells AC Milan to Chinese investors — ESPN
Media magnate, former Prime Minister, and party enthusiast Silvio Berlusconi has announced that — after two years of negotiation — he is selling his stake in AC Milan to  Chinese businessmen Yonghong Li and Han Li, for €740 million.  Il Cavaliere had owned his hometown team for 31 years.

China-Latin America

BYD in talks with Chilean lithium producers — FT
Chinese auto manufacturer BYD (part-owned by Warren Buffett) is talking to lithium producers in Chile about potential deals to secure supplies of the key battery material. The company is considering a range of options from partnerships to supply agreements and direct investments. Chile is one of the world’s largest sources of lithium; Beijing wants to double electric vehicle battery capacity by 2020, and has encouraged producers to invest overseas.

Latin America's oil-dependent states struggling to repay Chinese debts — China Dialogue
As Venezuela circles the drain (President Maduro was pelted with eggs at a rally of supporters this week), China continues to worry about it’s loans to the country, as well as Brazil, and Ecuador, that have both struggled economically of late. This article does not reveal anything new; but that it is coming from a semi-official Chinese source does reveal that they are semi-officially worried.

Asia-Latin America

Bacanora Minerals to supply lithium to Japan’s Hanwa — FT
It’s not just the Chinese that are after Lithium. The world’s largest lithium mine in northern Mexico is going to supply lithium to Japan’s Hanwa, a diversified industrial company that does a lot of work in non-ferrous metals.

Dubai Chamber to lead high-level trade mission to Latin America — Reuters Zawya
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is sending a trade mission to  Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina the week of April 15-22. GCC countries rely heavily on imports from Latin America, especially in the category of agricultural and foodstuff products.

China Econ/Policy

Guangzhou R&F Pays $196M to Pick Up Second London Site in Two Weeks — Mingtiandi
Guangzhou R&F bought Vauxhall Square from CLS Holdings for £157.7 million ($196 million) this week. The deal comes just two weeks after the Hong Kong-listed mainland developer made its maiden acquisition in London with the purchase of a pair of adjoining residential sites in south London’s Croydon area for £60 million ($74.8 million).

Tishman Speyer Signs $1.4B Deal with Chinese Online Wealth Manager Creditease — Mingtiandi
Tishman Speyer signed a funding agreement with the wealth management arm of China’s fintech heavyweight CreditEase this week which could provide the US company with as much as $1.4 billion in funding from Chinese consumers. The agreement is over the next three years, and extends a similar deal signed between the two groups in 2015. In 2015 Tishman Speyer struck an investment deal with the asset management divisions of China Life and Ping An that brought in $167 million each from the two Chinese insurance giants for a $500 million  mixed-use project on Boston’s Pier 4. In addition to its Boston deal, the American developer also teamed up with China Vanke back in 2013 for a residential project in San Francisco.

Fosun Buys Out French Property Investment Firm for $48M — Mingtiandi
Fosun Property Holdings, the property investment and management arm of China’s Fosun Group, has inked an agreement to take over PAREF, a French property owner and manager, for around $48 million. This follows through on a binding offer announced at the start of the year. PAREF Group, also known as the Paris Realty Fund, owns various commercial buildings within and outside the Paris area. Fosun has been shopping extensively in Europe over the past two years.

What China can learn from the Pearl river delta — The Economist
The Economist had a big spread last week about the Pearl River Delta, the Southern Chinese megalopolis (at 66m people, it is larger than Britain) that many see as China’s future. Encompassing Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, among others, it is less SOE-oriented and more engaging with the larger world ("As a global trading power the region is outranked only by America and Germany”). Notably, it also includes Zhuhai, a city that is to play host to an industrial park to promote China-Latin America cooperation; this puts Zhuhai in context.

First China-bound direct freight train leaves London — People's Daily
The fruit of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a direct train from London’s DP World to the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu left this week. Carrying "vitamins, baby products and other goods,” the train will take 18 days to travel and change locomotives due to different railway gauges in the countries.

Chinese Blame America for United Airlines — Foreign Policy
Soft power comes in many forms. The news of abusive treatment of a Chinese-American by United and the Chicago Police this week has taken China by storm. The video racked up more than 330 million views on Weibo and WeChat. Beyond the obvious connection of ethnicity, the video plays to Chinese fears about capitalism, red in tooth and nail, as well ass worries about authoritarian governments oppressing individuals in China.

China Elevates ‘Good Cop’ on Trade to Counter Trump Barbs — Bloomberg
Zhang Xiangchen, a Chinese official who is fluent in English and seen as very pro-trade, has been named as the country’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 7 Apr 2017

Highlights

Trump’s Bad Deal With China — Politico
China’s growing clout in international economic affairs — The Economist
Averting a Chinese-American trade war — The Economist
Inside the Kushner channel to China — Washington Post
The big news this week is Xi and Trump’s meeting today at Mar-a-Lago. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the meeting, not least because Trump’s goals for the bilateral relationship are unclear, if not contradictory. However, China’s interests are well known:

China wants the Trump administration to adopt its concept of “a new model of great power relations,” Xi’s proposal to avoid conflict and focus on cooperation. China also wants Trump to endorse Xi’s signature “One Belt, One Road” initiative, China’s massive regional infrastructure and development project. China also seeks U.S. noninterference in issues it considers core interests, including Taiwan, Tibet and its internal affairs.

Interestingly, that message has been delivered to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who the Chinese see as either an influential princeling, playing a role similar to those played in China; or - more concerningly - an out-of-his-depth novice who will get played.

China’s Currency Takes a Twist Ahead of Trump-Xi Meeting — WSJ
The yuan is up 1% against the dollar so far this year, a rise that began shortly before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. The rise could complicate a central criticism that Mr. Trump has leveled against China: that it is manipulating its currency downward at the expense of the U.S. to help bolster exports and its economy.

As Trump Meets Xi at Mar-a-Lago, There’s a ‘Wild Card’ — NYT
Guo Wengui is a member of Mar-a-Lago, but maybe better known as the developer of the "Dragon Building,” the Pangu Plaza near the Olympic complex in Beijing. Guo is now in the US because he left China during a corruption scandal linked to the jailing of his political patron, a top security official named Ma Jian. 

Latin America, trade on the line, will watch closely as Trump and Xi meet in Florida — McClatchy DC
Latin American leaders will be watching Mar-a-Lago to be looking for signs of stability and assurances that trade would remain open. Latam will see any signs of protectionism and nationalism as harming trade prospects and creating more inequities in the hemisphere’s trade relations.

Trade After the Trans-Pacific Partnership — NYT
As an example of the region's (and especially the Pacific Alliance’s) interest in pursuing trade in the era of Trump, Chile’s Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz wrote an op-ed on Monday stating: "The signal …is clear: Multilateral trade and Pacific integration are alive and kicking.”

Construction in Trump’s crosshairs — The Real Deal
Windows, steel beams, concrete, doors, floorings and entire curtain walls used in New York City skyscrapers and around the country are now regularly imported. These imports could be impacted by Trump’s economic nationalism or House Speaker Ryan’s proposed Boarder Adjustment Tax. Richard Wood, the president and CEO of Plaza Construction is noted, saying the percentage of materials from overseas is steadily increasing, and any restrictions could be damaging unless they are slowly phased in. “Otherwise,” he said, “a lot of domestic companies will be hurt very badly.”

Miami ficou 'cool': trocou o brega pelo cosmopolita — Brazil Journal
“Miami is now more than beaches and shopping centers” to Brazilians, says NP-friend Santiago Fittipaldi. He notes interest in Art Basel and the Pérez Art Museum.

China-Latin America

Why are Chilean fruits so successful in China? — Fresh Plaza
Chinese delegation visits the Chilean fruit industry — Fresh Plaza
Chile’s advantage in the Chinese market is a long time coming. In 1970, they became the first South American country to establish diplomatic relations with China. In 2005, Chile and China signed a free trade agreement; in 2015, they established a bilateral currency swap agreement; and in 2016, they announced the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership. Further highlighting the bilateral relationship, a Chinese delegation traveled to Santago last week to meet with Chile's Association of Fruit Exporters.(ASOEX). Led by the director of the Entry & Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau of the Port of Shenzhen (CIQ), the delegation also included representatives from the Association for Consumer Products Quality and Safety Promotion (CPQS), as well as representatives of several Chinese import companies.

Peru: 38% of ag companies exporting to China quit within a year — Fresh Plaza
However, there still remain opportunities in the agricultural space. According to the Peruvian Chamber of China Commerce (Capechi), Peruvian agricultural companies who export to China have a high rate of quitting because they don't continue doing business there. The companies simply disappeared or stopped exporting to China and have focused on other markets.  

Gezhouba plans to buy Brazilian utility — China Daily
Chinese construction conglomerate China Gezhouba Group Co announced on Thursday it was spending $200 million to acquire the Sistema Produtor São Lourenço water company in São Paulo in Brazil. In 2013, São Lourenço signed a deal with São Paulo utility Sabesp to manage local water supply and sludge treatment for 25 years. 

Expanding China invests in America's backyard: Latin America — CNBC
While trade between the U.S. and Latin America has doubled since 2000, China's trade with the region has multiplied 22 times, according to OECD economist Angel Melguzio. In fact, Beijing is now the biggest trading partner for the major economies of Brazil, Chile and Peru — and Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala are well-placed to profit from China's booming demand for global food. Meanwhile, China lends the region a lot of money — around $30 billion in 2015, up from $231 million in 2005. And the funds largely come with no strings attached.

Chinalco to ramp up investment in Peru copper mine — FT
China's state-owned Chinalco said it would step up investment at its flagship project in Peru, as the country becomes an increasingly important to China’s raw materials — copper — needs.

CIC-led group buys stake in Brazil pipeline — China Daily
Sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp (CIC) said on Wednesday it had-jointly with Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc and other institutional investors-acquired 90 percent stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste SA from Petrobras, which controls a natural gas transmission asset in southeast Brazil.

Asia-Latin America

Mexico’s Oaxaca eyes economic ties with Korea — Korea Herald
The secretary of economy of Oaxaca and his team spent a four-day visit to Korea working to boost economic ties. Oaxaca is a southern state in Mexico that is heavily agricultural. In order to build further cooperation, Oaxaca is planning to open a Korea desk to promote bilateral investment.

Estados Unidos retira fondo de desarrollo para América Latina — Reuters
In another penny-wise, pound-foolish move, the US has informed the Inter-American Development Bank that we will no longer be contributing toward hemispheric development.

Latin American-Gulf Economic Ties Are Still Largely Aspirational — World Politics Review
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, outlines the geographic, political and cultural obstacles that have stymied attempts to deepen ties between Latin American and Gulf countries.

India: The next big opportunity for Latin American and Caribbean trade — Inter-American Development Bank Beyond Borders
According to the report India: Latin America’s Next Big Thing? the opportunity lies in focusing on where India’s emergence will be seen most: trade and investment in goods and services.

China Econ/Policy

HNA backs Tishman Speyer’s bets in Brooklyn, Hudson Yards — The Real Deal
HNA Puts Manhattan Tower on the Block as China’s Mega-Buyer Starts Selling — Mingtiandi
HNA Property Group — an arm of Hainan Airlines — is busy in NYC. They’ve announced plans to sell their 90 percent stake in a 383,983-square foot building on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. They’ve also partnered with Tishman Speyer on the development of the Wheeler, a 10-story 620,000-square-foot creative office project rising above the Macy’s in Downtown Brooklyn, as well as on the 2.85-million-square-foot, Bjarke Ingels-designed tower known as the Spiral in the Hudson Yards area.

HNA in $375M Deal to Add London Exhibition Centre to Global Portfolio — Mingtiandi
Not content with NYC, HNA is also shopping in London. HNA, together with Bugsby Property, is said to be in talks to acquire the venues division of the UK’s Capital & Countries Properties (CapCo), which owns the Olympia exhibition center in west London, for £300 million ($375 million). The Olympia, a London landmark originally built in 1886, is made up of seven event venues.

China Creates SEZ for Medical Tourism — Marginal Revolution
Hainan Boao Lecheng international medical tourism pilot zone, the first of its kind in the country, was approved by the State Council in 2013. It enjoys nine preferential polices, including special permission for medical talent, technology, devices and drugs, and an allowance for entrance of foreign capital and international communications. The pilot zone also has permission to carry out leading-edge medical technology research, such as stem cell clinical research. The zone is too small to have a significant impact on worldwide R&D but China’s original SEZs soon expanded.

Asia-Latin America Round-up — 31 Mar 2017

Highlights

Looking sweet in the C-suite — The Real Deal Miami
Miami’s top commercial brokers said the increased appetite for Miami office assets is being driven by deep-pocketed institutional investors abroad. Major international players accounted for three of the five largest office deals in South Florida last year: Zara’s Amancio Ortega’s $516.6 million Southeast Financial Center purchase, Japanese trade conglomerate Sumitomo Corp.’s $220 million purchase of the Miami Tower and the Spanish family-owned Masaveu Corp.’s $175 million acquisition of a majority stake in the Courvoisier Centre on Brickell Key.

Some in the industry have expressed fears that political and economic turmoil abroad, as well as President Donald Trump’s foreign trade and immigration policies, will put a damper on activity. Many of these elements have already affected South Florida’s residential market. However, others say that it’s exactly that uncertainty abroad — as well as over what Trump will do next — that is the main motivation for buyers’ rushing to place such large bets on the Miami office market. “Just about always, the United States is the safest country for [foreign investment]; the one with the most transparent laws,” said Hermen Rodriguez, a senior managing director with HFF who helped broker the Southeast Financial deal. “In times of volatility, it seems like most of the foreign capital wants to be in the United States.”

Trump Administration Signals It Would Seek Mostly Modest Changes to Nafta — WSJ
Like Obama and George W Bush before him, President Trump’s plans to “tear up NAFTA” have run up against reality. The more modest proposed changes closely track both Hillary Clinton’s campaign proposals as well as changes that were to be made under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Trump Administration Lays Groundwork to Keep Big Tariffs on Chinese Goods — WSJ
However, it is not all roses, as the Department of Commerce is preparing a review of China’s “market-economy status” under the World Trade Organization. The review is expected to be announced as early as this week, just days before the Mar-a-Lago meeting between Xi Jinping and Trump. Beijing has said members of the WTO were required to start treating it as a market economy in December 2016, on the 15th anniversary of its membership. The Obama administration declined to do so. Adopting full market-economy status would involve changing the way the U.S. conducts trade cases and likely make it harder for American firms to win big punitive tariffs against Chinese companies blamed for dumping products on the U.S. market or selling goods that benefit from improper subsidies. The U.S. has dozens of punitive tariffs on steel products and other allegedly dumped products.

China-Latin America

Peru becomes China-led AIIB prospective member — Andina
Venezuela approved to join Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank — Xinhua
Peru and Venezuela have become a prospective member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The countries have joined the China-backed institution in an attempt to gain access to low-cost long-term financing for major infrastructure works.

Chinese investors move in, take large slice of Latin American pie — China Daily
Chinese companies are forming the mainstay of foreign direct investment in Latin American and African markets as globalization suffers setbacks elsewhere, according to law firm DLA Piper:  "A growing percentage of our clients who are investing directly in Latin America are from the Chinese mainland, from sectors including energy, infrastructure and technology and so on.”

China state firms eye land around Panama Canal: waterway authority — Reuters
The Panama Canal Authority will officially open a tender to develop about 1,200 hectares of land - roughly the size of 1,200 football fields - around the waterway by the end of this year into a logistics park on land previously used by the United States military for target practice. Unclear where exactly this land is, but we suspect it is next to the Panama Pacifico development. China Communications Construction Corp, its subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company and China Railway Group  are all mentioned as showing interest in the project.

American Airlines and China Southern Mull Alliance — Investopedia
American Airlines Group Inc and China Southern are in talks about a potential alliance that would merge the world's largest airline by fleet and revenue with China's biggest carrier. Air traffic between the two countries doubled from 2010 to 2015, and with most of the growth coming from outbound Chinese travelers. A beginning step into the Chinese market by American Airlines would be a boon for Miami International Airport, which is a big hub for AA. In 2015, Delta Airlines purchased a $450 million (3.55 percent) stake in China Eastern Airlines.

China’s R&F Buys London Site for $74.8M Despite Capital Controls — Mingtiandi
Guangzhou R&F Properties acquired a 5.5 acre London residential site for £60 million ($74.8 million) from a local real estate player. R&F was able to fund this purchase despite China’s announced capital controls, which it claims are endangering deals to acquire a chromium mine in Angola and to develop an agricultural program in Cambodia.

Blackstone Nearly Triples Money on SeaWorld Amid Controversy — Bloomberg
Blackstone agreed Friday to sell its remaining 21 percent stake in the theme-park operator to China’s Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co. for about $449 million.

China’s Tencent Buys 5% Stake in Tesla — WSJ
The owner of WeChat bought a 5% stake in the electronic automaker for $1.8 billion. Tesla’s revenue in China more than tripled last year to $1.07 billion—a faster rate of growth than in the U.S., where sales about doubled to $4.2 billion. China made up 15% of Tesla’s $7 billion in revenue last year, compared with about 8% in 2015.

China Life to further diversify foreign investments — Asia Asset
China Life Insurance, the largest insurer in China, is looking to further diversify its foreign investments within the confines of regulatory controls on such moves, according to vice president Zhao Lijun. Mr. Zhao said China Life pursues overseas investments in three ways: through external mandates – where it outsources offshore investments to external managers – which currently amounts to about $1.3 billion; direct investments in alternative assets such as real estate; and overseas private equity investments.  

“Although the tightening on capital outflow imposed by the Chinese government last year affected our overseas investment plan, we believe Chinese enterprises will have to expand their turf overseas in the long run,” he said. “The company already has a number of overseas projects in the pipeline. It will strictly follow the government’s policies to carry out the investments.”

Mexico's governors tap investors in China, elsewhere — Reuters
Billionaire Carlos Slim And China's JAC Motors To Manufacture Cars For Latin American Market — Forbes
In a joint venture with China's JAC Motors, Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu's Giant Motors will begin manufacturing cars in  Mexico to sell in the Latin American market. The 4.4 billion peso ($230 million) alliance between Mexico’s Giant Motors and China's JAC Motors will manufacture vehicles in Mexico's central state of Hidalgo. Last month Giant Motors announced a joint venture with Moldex, a subsidiary of Grupo Bimbo, a Mexican-based multinational that is the world’s largest bread maker, to manufacture a made-in-Mexico electric vehicle.

Government of St. Lucia Unveils New Plans for Pearl of the Caribbean — St. Lucia Times News
The government of St. Lucia recently revealed that they will begin construction on the 700-acre Pearl of the Caribbean entertainment complex, beginning with a racetrack. The proposal will see the land sold to DSH Caribbean Star Limited — the Caribbean subsidiary of a Hong Kong based registered management and investment company — for a reported $90,000 per acre.

Asia-Latin America

UAE's DP World eyes Panama Canal opportunities — Emirates 24|7
DP World said that chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem met with Panama President Juan Carlos Varela last week to discuss potential logistics and industrial parks and other projects. DP World’s other operations in Latin America include logistics centres in the Dominican Republic and Peru and a 50-year concession for the under construction deepwater port at Posorja in Ecuador.

GLP Bidding War Shows Promise of Logistics Platforms in Asia, US — Mingtiandi
Global Logistic Properties — backed by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC — has reportedly shortlisted at least three groups in the bidding for the Singapore-based warehouse operator. The three groups bidding for the industrial property developer with logistics facilities in China, Japan, U.S. and Brazil and an estimated market value of US$8.9 billion were said to be: a management-backed consortium that includes Chinese investment firms Hillhouse Capital Management and Hopu Investment Management; a Warburg Pincus-led investor group; and the Blackstone Group.

Qatari Fund to Sell $900 Million Holding in Santander Brazil — Bloomberg
Qatar Investment Authority, the Persian Gulf country’s sovereign wealth fund, is selling as much as $900 million-worth of shares in Banco Santander SA’s Brazilian unit, taking advantage of a more than 75 percent rally in the stock over the past year. Following the completion of this offering, QIA expects to remain the second-largest shareholder of Santander Brasil after Banco Santander. Santander Brasil’s shares have rallied as the bank has recovered after years of underperformance, as well as easing of crisis concerns in the country.

China Econ/Policy

Anbang, Kushner End Talks on NYC Tower as Conflicts Cited — Bloomberg
The company owned by the family of President Trump’s son-in-law announced that “Kushner Companies is no longer in discussions with Anbang about 666 5th Avenue’s potential redevelopment, and our firms have mutually agreed to end talks regarding the property.” They claim to be in talks with other, unnamed, potential investors.

Fosun CEO Liang Xinjun Steps Down Amid Reports of Discord — Mingtiandi
Fosun CEO Liang Xinjun is leaving the company he co-founded more than 25 years ago, according to an announcement by Guo Guangchang, the billionaire chairman of the Shanghai-based investment conglomerate. The CEO is supposedly stepping down due to health reasons. Company vice president and former CFO Ding Guoqi is also leaving the Hong Kong-listed company. 

Mingtiandi quotes sources saying relations among Fosun’s senior executives had changed since Guo was detained by in Shanghai in December 2015, as part of Xi's anti-corruption crackdown. Since then, friction between Guo and Liang, was supposed to have grown to the point where the two were "no longer able to work together effectively."

China pledges to uphold Paris climate commitments — FT
China moves to gain international prestige while adhering to policies that will benefit the government with people choking on pollution.

What We're Reading —20 Sep 2016

Temer says being a lame duck allows him to focus on the important things. We’ll see. 
Brazil Pension Reform Will Be Approved by Mid-2017, Says Brazil's President (Bloomberg)

Petrobras to cut investments by 25% over the next five years.
Petrobras reduz investimentos em 25% para os próximos cinco anos (Valor)

PPK trolls Maduro hard.
Peru Calls for Food Aid, Pressure to Help ‘Starving’ Venezuela (Bloomberg)

Why let the facts get in the way of some good demagoguery?
Illegal immigration from Mexico falls (FT)

Trump drives the MXN Peso below 20 to the USD.
Escala dólar al menudeo a $20.17 (El Universal) 

What We're Reading – 19 Sep 2016

PDVSA’s $7b debt exchange: shot...
PDVSA ofrece canjear 7.000 millones de dólares de deuda al 2017 por bono 2020 al 8,5% (Reuters)

…and chaser.
S&P Cuts Venezuela's PDVSA to CC Negative (Latin American Herald Tribune)

Self-recommending.
Interview: Mauricio Macri (FT)

IMF’s first Article IV trip to Argentina in a decade underway.
Llega misión del FMI para auditar las cuentas nacionales (Ámbito Financiero)

We’re shocked, shocked, to discover Trump flip-flopping on an issue.
Trump's 180 on Cuba (Two Week’s Notice)

David Frum with a thought-provoking essay to digest after the long holiday weekend.
Happy Independence Day, Mexico (The Atlantic)