Asia-Latin America Round Up — 11 Aug 2017

Highlights

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

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

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

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

China-Latin America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asia-Latin America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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