One Road

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.

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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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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.

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