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."

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