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.