FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

Asia and Latin America News Network focusing on Financial Markets, Energy, Environment, Commodity and Risk, Trading and Data Management

Latin America: Investors News Letter 18 April 2013

MEXICO

Mexico Peso Declines as U.S. Earnings Crimp Outlook for Exports

Mexico says Nestle to sell Pfizer baby food business

MEXICO CITY – Swiss food giant Nestle will sell the assets of U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s baby food business in Mexico, a business it acquired globally in an $11.85 billion deal last year, Mexico’s competition watchdog said on Monday.

Analysis: Mexico’s smaller homebuilders set to gain as top three struggle

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s top three homebuilders, facing heavy debt burdens and holding land where Mexicans no longer want to live, will sell fewer homes this year, leaving a market wide open for smaller rivals or even private equity funds to snap up business.

Mexican manufacturing: from sweatshops to high-tech motors

SILAO, Mexico – Made in Mexico is increasingly more likely to mean cars than clothes as the country’s manufacturing sector moves away from the low-skill, high-volume production lines of the past toward more sophisticated products.

VIP Interview: Enrique Peña Nieto, forging the future

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, on a new spirit of democracy and cooperation, and the economic future of Mexico.

BRAZIL

Itau Bet on Stocks Outside Brazil Leads Latin America Funds

QItau Unibanco Holding SA has found a winning strategy for the Itau Latam Pacific mutual fund: avoiding shares from the bank’s home country, Brazil.

 Brazil’s Votorantim Cimentos files for $5.4 billion IPO

Votorantim Cimentos S.A., Brazil’s biggest cement producer, on Wednesday filed with regulators to raise up to $5.4 billion in an initial public offering of its units.

Brazil clears Pão de Açúcar’s appliance stores deal

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO – Grupo Pão de Açúcar SA , Brazil’s biggest retailer, won regulatory approval on Wednesday for its 2009 purchase of the Casas Bahia and Ponto Frio appliance chains in exchange for selling less than 8 percent of their store fronts.

Brazil Indian-farmer standoff intensifies, tribes storm Congress

BRASILIA – Brazilian Indians are trying to derail a congressional proposal to change the way indigenous lands are recognized, intensifying a standoff between the powerful farm sector and a carefully protected minority by literally storming the floor of Congress.

Special Report: Rough justice as Brazil tries to right past wrongs to Indians

MARAIWATSEDE, Brazil – Damião Paridzané was nine years old in 1966 when the Brazilian Air Force loaded him and hundreds of other Xavante Indians onto a cargo plane. | Video

UK-based TMO Renewables building cellulosic fuel plant in Brazil

SAO PAULO – UK-based TMO Renewables said on Friday it plans to build Brazil’s first commercially viable second-generation ethanol plant, betting on the South American country’s need for non-food-based biofuels.

Brazil’s Embraer looks to shock Lockheed with price of cargo jet

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is looking to shock rivals with the price of its KC-390 military transport plane when it starts booking firm orders within the next 12 months, according to a senior executive.

Higher volumes and more investment for Brazilian railfreight
INTERNATIONAL RAILWAY JOURNAL – Despite a slowdown in economic growth, Brazil’s freight railways invested nearly Reais 4.9bn ($US 2.4bn) in new infrastructure and equipment last year, a 6.6% increase over 2011,

LATIN AMERICA

British Firms Explore Trade Opportunities in Mexico and Colombia

A four-day trade mission to Mexico and Colombia by medium-sized British businesses took place in March, focusing on high value opportunities in key sectors.

Jamaica’s decades of debt are damaging its future

The latest IMF loan does not ‘rescue’ Jamaica, whose debt must be written off if its people are to take control of their economy

 The Logistics Hub Project and Jamaica’s Development
An ideal location midway between North and South America, in close proximity to the Panama Canal contributes to this advantage. The Panama Canal will be widened by 2015 to accommodate wider ships and Jamaica hopes to capitalise on this by expanding its port facility and affiliated infrastructure spread over four south coast parishes: namely Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon and St Thomas. An IDB (2010) study on the productivity of the LAC region concluded that “ports and airports are grossly inefficient.

Latin America’s top port faces logistical woes
Santos’ cargo handling volumes made a strong start to 2013, with the port hitting a record high of 7.9 MM tons, up 27 percent year-on-year, according to Santos’ Port Authority CODESP. If the trend continues, the port is expected to close 2013 with total cargo traffic of 109 MM tons, up from 104 MM last year and 97 MM in 2011. But a record soybean harvest this year has clearly overwhelmed its storage and loading capacity. “It seems that our infrastructure can’t cope with the growth in grain production,” said Sergio Mendes, executive director of the Brazilian Cereal Exporters Association (ANEC). Last month, the logistical nightmare reached epic proportions, with a 64-kilometer traffic jam of trucks waiting to unload their soybean cargo outside Santos port. And the port congestion and resulting shipment delays led Sunrise Group, China’s largest soybean importer, to cancel an order to buy 2 MM metric tons of Brazilian soybean.

Latin America’s Largest PV Projects

As of April 1, 2013, 9.8 gigawatts of large-scale PV projects had been announced in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, the generating capacity of projects in operation is just 114 megawatts. Of the 9.8 gigawatts’ worth of announced projects, 731 megawatts have signed off-take agreements of some sort (power purchase agreements, feed-in tariff contracts, etc.) and a further 168 megawatts are under construction. These large numbers have generated a lot of hype for various Latin American markets, in particular, for Chile, Mexico, and Brazil.

Filed under: Banking, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Energy & Environment, Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latin America: Investors News Letter 31 March 2013

Brazil

Brazil’s Mantiq To Raise Money Abroad For Infrastructure Fund
Mantiq, which was spun off from Banco Santander Brasil SA (BSBR, SANB4.BR) last year, currently manages three private equity funds with total investments of about 2.5 billion Brazilian reais ($1.27 billion). In addition to a fund that invests in the oil and gas industry supply chain, and another that invests in renewable energy and other environmentally sensitive technologies

Brazil to help banks bolster infrastructure financing-official
The Brazilian government is considering measures to help private banks finance the massive infrastructure projects that are key to reviving Latin America’s largest economy.

Strike Shuts Down 36 Brazilian Ports

Central America

Logistics and Transport: A Long Road to Travel in Central America

Why is it more expensive shipping tomatoes from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Managua in Nicaragua than it is to San Jose, California, which is 10 times the distance? According to Google, the distance between the Costa Rican capital and Managua is 430 kilometers, whereas 5,400 kilometers separate San Jose from the Californian city.

Barletta: 2013 should be a good year for logistics development
Panama is one of the rising stars of Latin America’s economy. The construction of large infrastructure projects, such as the $5.2 billion Panama Canal expansion and a $1.8 billion subway in the capital city, have boosted the country’s economy to 10.5% growth and reduced unemployment to 4.8% in 2012.

Jamaica ahead in race to be logistics hub of the Americas
The race to be the logistics hub of the Americas has already begun with the addition of Jamaica that has revealed its intention to position the island as the rival of Singapore. A similar situation is raking place with the Dominican Republic, while in Panama there is still a debate on the need for a long-term strategy that includes where to locate logistics parks.

Filed under: Banking, Brazil, Central America, Energy & Environment, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bloomberg and El Financiero to Launch Spanish-Language HD Channel in Mexico and Central America

Partnership Will Create Local Content across Television, Web, Mobile and Print

 Bloomberg Media Group, a division Bloomberg L.P., and El Financiero, the media branch of Grupo Lauman, an integrated solutions company, today announced a long-term agreement to launch a new multi-platform Spanish-language business news service. The companies will create a high-definition television channel that combines Bloomberg’s global business and financial insight with locally-produced content. The service will be offered in Mexico and Central America. The companies also plan to offer content online, on mobile sites and in print with a co-branded section in El Financiero newspaper.

“Mexico is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and our agreement with El Financiero allows Bloomberg to deliver the sharpest global business and financial insight to a critical market,” said Andy Lack, CEO of Bloomberg Media Group. “This is a significant part of the company’s strategy of forming partnerships with leading providers in markets that have a compelling economic growth story, as we have done in India, Turkey, Mongolia, Indonesia, Africa and the Middle East.”

“The new venture with Bloomberg will provide local investors, businessmen and opinion makers, with high-quality, relevant content that moves markets,” said Manuel Arroyo, President and CEO of Grupo Lauman and El Financiero. “We look forward to bringing to the table Mexico’s key influencers to further the discussion around this region’s economic growth.”

Scheduled to launch in late 2013, this will be the first business news channel available in HD throughout Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It will be broadcast from El Financiero’s new HD studio in Mexico City. An executive producer from Bloomberg Television will be appointed to work alongside El Financiero to assist in the production of the network’s economic and business coverage. The programming will draw from Bloomberg’s extensive financial and economic data as well as reporting from the company’s 2,400+ journalists in 146 news bureaus across 72 countries.

Mr. Arroyo, along with Enrique Quintana, Chief Editor of El Financiero, will participate in the Bloomberg Mexico Economic Summit at the Club de Banqueros de Mexico. This event gathers the country’s most influential political, financial and corporate minds to discuss the critical issues surrounding the region’s growth.

Source: Bobsguide, 21.03.2013

Filed under: Central America, Latin America, Mexico, News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Latin America: Investor News Letter 2 November 2012

MEXICO

Mexico 2013 inflation view steady despite price spike
Credit Suisse Raises $420 Million to Create Mexico Fund
Mexico: Big investment for citrus producers
Indigenous Groups Protest Mexico’s Biggest Wind-Energy Project
FOX BUSINESS – Mexican fishermen and indigenous groups from the southern state of Oaxaca protested Wednesday in front of the Mexico City offices of participants in a wind-energy project that would be one of the largest ever in Latin America, targeting Coca-Cola bottler and convenience-store operator Femsa (FMX), the Inter-American Development Bank and the Danish government, among others.

BRAZIL

The Brazilian Law on Money Laundering
Precautions Investors Must Take when Investing in Brazil. Brazil has recently altered its money laundering law. The new bill has tightened the government’s grip on most of the investment operations and has significantly broadened financial institutions’ and investment brokers’ duties to report suspicious activities …

ThyssenKrupp Brazil mill fined for pollution, could face closure
The long, brutal haul from farm to port in Brazil
Brazil hit by new blackout, infrastructure in spotlight
Brazil Gives Tax Exemption to Foreign Mortgage Investors
Brazil Power Generators Ask to Renew 106 of 123 Concessions

LATIN AMERICA

Private Aviation takes off in Latin America
The growth of private wealth in LatAm has led to a rise in demand for private aircraft and private aviation services. For the region’s mounting numbers of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, a plane can be purely a luxury item, of course; but for increasingly global and mobile professionals and business owners, it meets a demand unsatisfied by local transportation alternatives, as well .

Colombia Regulators Seize Interbolsa Brokerage on Funding

Colombia’s financial regulators seized Interbolsa SA’s brokerage, the country’s largest, after the company said it faces a “temporary” funding shortage.

 Latin America stocks rise on China, U.S. data
20 Latin American in the World’s 200 Richest People
Argentina bonds close lower after S&P downgrade
Argentina Plans Regulatory Overhaul to Spur Investments
Increase in pension fund investments makes for headwinds in Andean market
Colombia Equity Fund targets European countries for distribution
Protests in Peru Scaring Off Mining Investment, Government Responds With Social Programs
Honduran supreme court rejects idea of building independently governed ‘model cities’
CAF and OFIC ink agreement to promote energy efficiency projects in Latin America
Modern airport terminal to be opened in Bogota
IDB approves $200m financing for Latin America hydro plant

Filed under: Argentina, Asia, Banking, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, News, Peru, Risk Management, Wealth Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alternative Latin Investor Issue 7 November/December

Alternative Latin Investor Issue 7 November/December 2010 click here for a free issue Issue 7  

Content Index

Infrastructure
  • Investing in listed shares of Latin American Infrastructure Companies
Emerging Markets
  • Latin America vs. Asia
Agribusiness
  • Ahuacatl: A Fruite for the Ages
Art
  •  Latin American Art Gains Momentum in Europa
Commodities
  • Brazil’s Energy Industry in the Wake of New South
Philanthropy
  • One Economy: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Improve Lives
Profiles
  • ALI Speaks with Bertrand Delgado: Senior Analyst for Emerging Markets and Latin America at Roubini Global Economics
Real Estate
  • Finding and Entrance into Mexico’s Affordable Housing Construction Finance Market.
FOREX
  • Increasing Threat of Currency “WAR’s” to Ignite 4th Quarter FX Activity?
Renewable Energy
  • Argentina’s Energy Framework: Preparing for an Onslaught of Renewable Energy Investment
  • Winds of Change: Harnessing Wind Energy in Brazil
Regulations
  •  New Bills Proposed to Amend the Law on Finance Entities in Argentina
Opinion
  • How will Nestor’s Passing Affect Argentina
Ventures
  • ALI speaks with Element 360 Founder, Chad Martin

Source: Alternative Latin Investor 02.12.2010

Filed under: Argentina, Banking, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Energy & Environment, Exchanges, Latin America, Mexico, Risk Management, Wealth Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Definitive Guide to Investing in Panama

Following up with last years release of the Offshore Banking report which, in the midst of the global banking crisis, gravitated towards Panama, Alternative Latin Investor has released an in-depth report of the of the country.

Through extensive interviews, site visits and research the report deals with the main sectors relevant to foreign investors, Real Estate, Commodities, Banking and General Business practices as well as an exclusive interview with Former Panamanian president Nicolás Ardito. With Panama being the integral point of trade and business in the Caribbean, this report provides essential insight for those interested in getting involved in the region.

The economic overview analyzes the trends and indicators affecting the outlook of the Panamanian economy. The real estate portion of the report covers where to invest, coastal developments and “insider tips” from the director of a local Real Estate firm. For those interested in commodities investing – the report highlights the prized Panamanian Geisha coffee bean as well as a complex discussion regarding Teak investment in the region. The final segment covers the details and benefits of banking in panama.    

Alternative Latin Investor Panama Report For free access to the full content of both Panama Outlook 2010 and other ALI publications, visit: http://www.alternativelatininvestor.com

 About Alternative Latin Investor:

ALI believes in the future of the Latin American alternative investment industry, but feels there is a lack of information regarding this sector which does not allow for growth or global exposure.


Every two months ALI releases a digital magazine
  in addition supplemental in-depth reports area also released, such as the just the current Panama Outlook: 2010 as well as Offshore Banking: Latin America 2009.  Both LatAm Commercial Real Estate and Latin Hedge Funds are slated for release later this year.


Through creating a platform for industry professionals to submit articles concerning their areas of expertise, investors can benefit from the experience of alternative investment insiders. Through participation in Alternative Latin Investor industry professionals will be able to create new synergies both within the region and beyond.

Filed under: Banking, Central America, Latin America, News, Services, Wealth Management, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

China Latin America: The decade of the Panda?

Before China can deliver on its promise of massive investments in Latin America, Chinese companies need to overcome their fear of Latin American volatility and political risk.  And Latin America needs to prepare more cross-border suitors to bridge the cultural divide.

John Price, Shanghai –  Kroll Tendencias, January 2010

When President Hu Jintao toured Latin American capitals in November 2004, he predicted that trade and investment flows between China and Latin America would both surpass $100 billion within a decade.  His forecasts turned out to be too conservative on trade but naively ambitious regarding the flow of Chinese investment to Latin America.  Two-way trade topped $140 billion in 2008 but, according to Shanghai’s SinoLatin Capital Analysis, accumulated Chinese investment in the region at the end of 2008 stood at a meager $12 billion, considerably less than the foreign direct investment into Latin America from the U.S. state of Michigan.

What the booming trade figures underscore is the growing dependency between China and resource-rich Latin America and the compelling logic of partnership.  The disappointing investment flow levels, on the other hand, reflect the many challenges in bringing together two utterly different cultural, political, business and legal systems, in spite of the economic imperative to do so.   The missing actor, whose absence has prevented the marriage of the Latin American suitor and the Chinese bride, is the proverbial marriage broker — the bi-cultural professional class of bankers, lawyers, and consultants that can construct and maintain cross-border investments.

It takes time to develop effective marriage brokers in global business, but progress is being made.  As his company’s name would suggest, Erik Bethel, principal of private equity firm Sino-Latin Capital in Shanghai, is one such cross-border broker.  Bethel recognizes the potential of Latin America to Chinese investors and is gambling his professional career on that promise.  Born in Miami to Cuban parents, educated in the Ivy League of U.S. colleges, Bethel honed his investment banking skills in Latin America, then decided to pursue the China dream and moved to Shanghai seven years ago.  At that time, Shanghai was still a would-be financial center, littered with cranes and covered in construction dust.

Since then Shanghai as boomed as a financial hub and Bethel has learned Mandarin.  More importantly, after searching high and low, Bethel has identified some of the elusive cast of dealmakers among China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs), whom he must woo into investing in Latin America. “Unlike the traditional global financial centers of Wall Street or the City of London where big investors walk with the swagger of pseudo-celebrities,” Bethel explains, “the guy writing the check in China is likely to be a humble bureaucrat working diligently behind a non-descript desk.  He doesn’t frequent fancy clubs or high profile conferences.  Finding him is half the battle.”

Bethel and other pioneers like him may be the key to China making good on Hu Jintao’s investment forecast.  “My job,” says Bethel, “is to find that SOE investor, who by and large has a rudimentary, if not distorted, perception of Latin America, educate him on the opportunities and realities of doing business in the region, and hopefully convince him to get on a plane and go kick the tires on the great potential that exists for Chinese companies.  I realize that this is both a frightening and exciting prospect for someone, who may never have left China other than to go to Hong Kong, and who speaks only a smattering of English and no Spanish or Portuguese, but the opportunities are just too great to ignore.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but without someone like us undertaking this great effort, how on earth is Chinese money ever going to find its way to Latin America?”

Indeed, the challenge of bringing together Chinese capital and Latin American resources requires many more foot soldiers like Bethel in China.  From the Chinese investor’s perspective, Latin America still seems more distant and exotic than the many investment opportunities at home or within China’s continental sphere.  Nothing less than a full-press educational and public relations effort is needed inside China by all those with an interest in attracting Chinese capital to Latin America, be they diplomats, multi-latinas or the professional service firms bent on catching the wave of investment.

China, the new source of global investment capital

While many Chinese investors have yet to discover Latin America, no one now doubts the tectonic shift of capital flow coming out of China.  For the last 15 years, China has absorbed more direct investment than it exported as the global Fortune 1000 bet their futures on the Middle Kingdom.  When the year-end numbers are in, however, 2009 is expected to mark the first year of positive net outflow of investment capital for China, with over $100 billion in the form of direct foreign investment overseas.

China’s sudden emergence as the new FDI source on the world stage is explained in large part by its export-driven economic growth model. In order to maintain an undervalued currency and, with it, full employment — a political imperative — China must export $250 billion of capital each year to balance its excess trade and tourism surpluses.  For several years now, the easy solution was for the Central Bank of China to buy U.S. Treasury bills, thus helping to stoke the engine of U.S. consumerism (and Chinese exports) with record low U.S. interest rates.  That formula looks less attractive thanks to undisciplined U.S. monetary and fiscal management which represses U.S. interest rates and weakens the dollar, as the prospect of much higher U.S. inflation looms ahead.

The one-trick pony model of exporting to the over-indebted U.S. middle class is now passé.  China must look to other markets for its exports and simultaneously speed the rise of its internal consumer base. Middle income emerging markets like most of Latin America, South and North Africa, SouthEast Asia and Central Asia are in many ways more natural markets than the U.S. for China’s portfolio of mass-produced consumer goods.  Building bridges both politically and commercially in those markets requires outbound Chinese direct foreign investment. 

Garrigues, Spain’s largest commercial law firm, whose transactional practice follows closely the global flows of capital, set up an office in China in 2005, when Spanish firms had caught the China bug and were pouring in capital.  Francisco Soler Caballero, head of the Shanghai office, explains, however, that the firm’s business, like the international capital flows, has reversed course.  “We came to China to help Spanish companies enter the Chinese market,” says Soler. “We continue to help Spanish companies expand in China but the economic crisis in Spain has curbed the appetite of Spanish companies for costly Chinese acquisitions. Today, we find more cross-border opportunities with Chinese companies who want to expand abroad.  Having helped countless Spanish companies enter Latin America, we are now doing the same for Chinese SOEs.  It is a welcome but unpredicted turn of events for our China practice.”

Internally, China has all it needs to develop its economy save one important element, natural resources.  There is a growing sense of concern among Chinese economic planners that medium-term growth is threatened by an uncertain supply of raw materials, which presently China must import from foreign controlled firms.  When Japan and South Korea reached a similar impasse during their rise to developed-nation status, they chose to negotiate long-term supply contracts with oil, gas and mineral producers, carefully selecting downturn years to lock in attractive pricing over 10-30 years.  With their strengthening currencies and relatively low commodity prices, such a strategy made sense for Japan and Korea in the late 80s and 90s. Given China’s obsession with maintaining its cheap currency, its resulting excess liquidity and the likelihood of continued elevated pricing with commodities, it makes far more sense for China to venture out and buy operational control of its raw material supply.  

In 2008, China had 19.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 2.3 trillion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves (14th and 16th largest reserves in the world, respectively).  But given China’s vast energy demands, China still had to import 55% of its crude oil consumption in 2008, according to the China National Information Center.

By 2020, Chinese natural gas production is expected to fall short of consumption by 50-100 billion cubic meters, which explains why PetroChina went on a recent shopping trip to Australia in search of gas production assets.

Even more dramatic are China’s shortages of metals and minerals. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Chinese reserves of copper, manganese, and nickel are 5.4%, 8%, and 2.5% of the world’s total, while China accounts for 27%, 48% and 22% of the world’s total consumption of these metals.

Even in the politically sensitive terrain of food supply where China spends billions subsidizing its agricultural base, the country cannot avoid a reliance on imports.  Soybean is a good example.  China currently imports over 60% of its annual 50 million tons of consumption.  In terms of forestry, China is one of the largest importers of wood pulp and industrial round wood (7.4 million tons and 38.6 million tons in 2007, respectively) not only to satisfy the domestic market but also the export-driven demand of its paper and furniture industries.

Chinas Risk Adversity

Latin America has the good fortune of having many of the top producers of the resources that China so badly needs.  And there is clearly no shortage of capital in China.

New suburban homes in the Pudong district of Shanghai are sold before they are built, at a cost of $3-$5 million for a 3,000 square foot, two-floor home in a gated community.  China’s own economic stimulus package includes vast, and some say, opulent infrastructure projects.  The 30 kilometers of high speed rail track from central Pudong to Shanghai’s airport carries its passengers up to 430 km/hr for a total of 8 minutes at a construction cost of almost $2 billion.  If Chinese money can find its way into such questionable investments, why can’t Latin America attract more Yuan to its compelling array of resource companies and infrastructure opportunities?

The small and nascent talent pool of service professionals that can bridge the regions may be the most important reason for the disconnect thus far, but equally important are Latin America’s lingering perception problems.

Predictability, which the Chinese value above all else, is not a traditional Latin American virtue.  Chinese investors are disheartened by Latin America’s history of volatility.  Rather than seeing currency fluctuation as an opportunity like many savvy Latin American investors do, the Chinese loath the uncertainty that it adds to their forecasts.  Many Latin American economies have made tremendous strides to curb currency volatility and build international reserves through floating currency regimes and fiscal discipline.  Chinese investors need to be enlightened about this change and to become better versed in the science of currency hedging.  They also need to learn how to navigate and mitigate the legal and political risks of doing business in Latin America.

At home, large Chinese SOEs can rely on the rule of law or their own political power to manipulate the rule of law to ensure legal and regulatory certainty.  When the same companies look abroad, they tend to prefer one of three models; a sound legal environment, like Australia, Canada, the U.S. or Europe, where their investments are defendable through the courts; or small, undemocratic economies like the Sudan and Burma, where they can exercise political influence to their liking; or satellite economies like Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan where they enjoy political sway and legal protections.

The perception in China of Latin America is that the region offers neither the protections of a transparent legal system nor the ability to exercise unperturbed political influence.  Some of the largest mergers and acquisitions to date in the region have been via the purchase of foreign-listed companies, such as Corriente Resources (copper mining) and EnCana (oil and gas), both Canadian companies with significant investments in Latin America.  In this respect, it is the legal community that must lead the effort to illustrate the defendable legal rights of foreign investors in Latin America’s more advanced economies and differentiate those from the list of countries in the region where legal risk remains a serious obstacle.

Related to legal risk is the acute Chinese sensibility to political risk.  Latin America’s political dynamic is frankly too fluid and complex for most Chinese investors to grasp.  The need to campaign from the left and govern from the right, which is Latin America’s political hallmark, can prove both alarming and confounding to Chinese investors.  The relatively decentralized governance of most Latin American countries adds another source of anxiety to Chinese investors, who must get used to idea that in Latin America they are as vulnerable to the vagaries of local politics and local political players like labor unions, NGOs, and indigenous advocates, as they are to the whims of the executive branches or national legislatures.  China learned this lesson when Chinese copper giant Zijin faced violent labor conflict with its Rio Blanco mine investment in Peru.

When it comes to political risk, the Chinese need to alter their thinking, not just to deal with Latin America, but with most countries in which they wish to invest.  China’s lack of understanding of political risk cost them dearly in the U.S. when in 2005 the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) was denied by the U.S. government in its bid to purchase Unocal, subsequently gobbled up by Chevron.  China miscalculated again when telecom equipment maker Huawei was turned down in its quest of 3Com.

Perhaps Latin America’s most difficult image problem is that of physical insecurity. In a country like China where physical violence toward the business class is unheard of, where guns cannot be owned by its citizens, Latin America is the wild west by comparison.

It is one thing for a company to visit Latin America to sell goods or buy raw materials.  In either case, the risk of physical violence intruding on the negotiations is minimal.  But in the case of Chinese foreign investment, which typically relies on securing Chinese managerial control through the transfer of dozens, if not hundreds of employees from China to the foreign operation, the risk is considerably greater.  The internationally readied managerial labor pool in China is very thin, such that sending people to an “unsafe” environment is not an easy internal sell for many Chinese firms.  Overcoming the security hurdle requires a dual effort.  Latin Americans need to more openly address their security shortcomings when presenting their countries, regions and companies as investment destinations.  Meanwhile, Chinese investors need to embrace security risk by better understanding it and learning how to mitigate such risks through preventive measures and insurance products.

In November 2008, the economic imperative of Chinese natural resource investment in Latin America received a boost from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs when it published in its Latin American regional policy paper a centerpiece mandate titled “Go Outward” (走出去).  In China, government directives still matter because it is the government controlled SOEs (typically 70% government, 30% private ownership) that naturally lead the charge of outbound foreign direct investment.  These vast oligarchy-like enterprises have the capital (or privileged access to it) and the need to invest in their supply base.

High-level policy embracement of a “Buy Latin America” strategy was slow in developing in part because China always considered it an untouchable zone of influence of the U.S.  That fear has evidently subsided or been usurped by the sheer economic imperative of securing natural resource supplies.  The recent push by the government has prompted a new sense of urgency to invest in Latin American resource companies and resource related infrastructure projects.

The onus now lies upon vested interests to build the bridges that will bind this vital, though still awkward, partnership.  Latin Americans, with the help of service professionals, especially investment bankers, private equity funds, law firms, risk consultants and insurance firms, must step up their efforts to educate their future Chinese partners on how to evaluate, navigate the opportunities and mitigate the risks of investing in  Latin America.

Source: Kroll- Tendencias January 2010

Filed under: Argentina, Brazil, Central America, Chile, China, Colombia, Energy & Environment, Latin America, Library, Mexico, News, Peru, Risk Management, Venezuela, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Enhancing China-Latin America Economic Relations

Amid increased Chinese investment in Latin America, investment volume remains low. Exploring the economic relationship begins with an understanding of complementarity in export and import supply and demand between the two regions.

(Caijing.com.cn) China’s rapidly expanding trade and investment relationships with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have created many recent headlines.  From a point of negligible ties less than just a decade ago, China has now become the number one market for Chilean and Brazilian exports and the number two destination for exports from Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica and Cuba. Indeed, China’s overall trade with Latin America has expanded at an average of 40% since 2003.  Latin America has also become a major destination for overseas investment from Chinese firms, especially in important upstream petroleum and iron ore sources.  To underscore the importance of the relationship, especially in the midst of the ongoing financial crisis, Latin American exports to China have only fallen by slightly over 4%, whereas they have fallen by over 35% to the United States and over 36% to Europe.

However, even with all of the daily news headlines touting the importance of the burgeoning trade and investment relationship between China and Latin America, it’s important to step back and evaluate the larger contours of the relationship.  Indeed, although there remains vast untapped potential to further increase trade and investment between China and Latin America, there are also key challenges that must be confronted.  Despite the rapid growth of trade and investment relations between China and Latin America, both sides must seek methods to deepen mutual understanding to take advantage of the remaining vast potential for cooperation and development.

Opportunities

The opportunities for further enhancing the already rapidly expanding commercial and investment relations between Latin America and China fall into three categories.  First, China and Latin America share key complementarities in terms of supply and demand.  Since the early part of this decade, China’s demand for a range of natural resources including petroleum and iron ore, among others, has expanded rapidly.  Latin America has these natural resources in abundance.  Trade figures have borne out this complementarity as over 80% of China’s imports from Latin America have been made up of primary products and natural resource manufactures.  Latin America’s abundance of natural resources is an excellent fit for China’s large and increasing demand for those resources.  At the same time, Chinese manufactured exports are making up an increasingly large percentage of Latin American imports, ranking 1st or 2nd in total imports for at least 6 major countries in the region.

The second area of opportunity lies in China not only as a market for Latin American exports but also as a source of finance and investment.  As the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean recently reported, this Chinese demand for raw materials to fuel the country’s rapid growth has been a key factor in sustaining Latin American exports to China even in the midst of the current economic crisis.  Moreover, China’s investments in Latin America have been rapidly expanding, growing by 80% per year since 2003.  In fact, Latin America has become China’s largest destination for foreign direct investment outside of Asia.

The third area of opportunity is directly related to the previous two. Despite the complementarity in export and import supply and demand between the two regions, as well as the rapid rise in trade and investment relations, there is still vast room for increases in both trade and investment between China and Latin America.  The rapid growth in trade and investment between Latin America and China is indeed impressive, but the starting point for this expansion was very limited.  There remains vast potential for increased export of a range of goods from a host of Latin American countries, including commodities and natural resources from countries who are already exporting to China and those who are just beginning to tap into Chinese demand.  In fact, unsatisfied Chinese demand for Latin American products is almost 100% or more (as a share of bilateral Latin American exports) of Andean, Southern Cone and Caribbean exports.

Challenges

While there are a great number of opportunities to further enhance the already burgeoning trade and investment relationship between China and Latin America there are also a number of important challenges that remain.  The first of these challenges is directly related to the complementarity in supply and demand structures across the two regions.  While it is true that China’s large and increasing demand for natural resources and commodities is driving much of the recent expansion in trade and investment with Latin America, there remain concerns that Latin American reliance on exports of primary products may prove too prone to market fluctuations.  In order to confront this challenge both China and Latin America need to seek ways to diversify not only the range of goods and products that are traded but also to expand opportunities for investment in services that facilitate trade.  Two areas that stand out here are in enhanced transportation logistics services as well increased financial integration between the two regions.

The second challenge facing China-Latin American economic ties involves the cultural differences between the two sides.  While there are some long-standing connections between China and Latin America, including large numbers of Chinese migrants in various Latin American countries, the economic relationship has only really taken off in the last decade.  As a result, differences in language, history, business culture as well as labor-management relations all present challenges to a deeper and more solid relationship.  Both sides are making concerted efforts to confront these various challenges to mutual understanding through enhanced educational exchange and as the result of increased direct experience.  However, these efforts will need to be redoubled on both sides in order to take advantage of the many opportunities manifest in the relationship.

The third and final challenge confronting China and Latin America relates to the often confusing connection between government and business on both sides.  On the Chinese side, the connection between government policy and state-affiliated multinational corporations involved in many of the largest trade and investment deals remains unclear, especially to those looking in from the outside.  This can lead to confusion and anxiety on the part of Latin American governments, business partners and citizens.  Equally, from the perspective of the Chinese government and international businesses, often burdensome government bureaucracy as well as underdeveloped infrastructure in Latin America can create obstacles to enhanced cooperation.  Greater transparency at both the government and corporate levels are necessary on both sides to overcome these obstacles.

Source: Caijing.com.cn, 20.10.2009 by Matt Ferchen and Alicia Garcia-Herrero

Matt Ferchen is a professor in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University.  Alicia Garcia-Herrero is the Chief Economist for Emerging Markets at the Spanish bank BBVA.

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Central America Exchanges meet to agree on comon platform; Costa Rica, El Salavador and Panama

Today, in Panama, the stock exchanges of Costa Rica (BNV), El Salvador (BVES) and Panama (BVP) started working with the aim of advancing an integration plan. During today and tomorrow, the exchanges’ managers will discuss the establishing of a common trading platform, the single order book, remote membership and the necessary legal and regulatory infrastructure.

“We are giving all our support and pressing the accelerator on this project because it is a plan that concerns us all in Central America,” said Rolando Duarte, president of the BVES. In an effort to incorporate in the process the stock market participants from the region, Duarte said that each country will hold meetings with their house brokers, to push their players closer to the remote model.

The countries are working according to schedule. It only remains to agree on and purchase the trading system. To find the best option at a global level it will be put out to tender. The details of the tender are not defined yet but it will be given to the company that can provide a platform that allows real-time connection with the three stock exchanges. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), that sponsored the first part of the process, will be asked again to support the purchase.

Duarte said that the set up of AMERCA is progressing according to schedule, and the first results of the integration will be seen in June 2009. This week’s meeting is also expected to discuss the expansion of the Panama Canal, with the idea that local markets are taken into account in the financing plan for the project.

Source: MondoVision 13.10.2008

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