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.