Chinese investment in Australia declines

Chinese investment in Australia has continued to fall, putting it fifth behind the United States which has consolidated top spot in the foreign funding rankings.

The Foreign Investment Review Board’s annual report shows the value of Chinese investment approvals across all sectors fell from $23.7 billion in 2017/18 to $13.1 billion in 2018/19.

That continued a four-year downward trend in the number and value of applications.

The FIRB found the decline could be due to China increasing scrutiny of foreign direct investment and putting stricter capital controls in place.

The trend is global, with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data showing a 30 per cent year-on-year decline in Chinese investment during 2017/18.

The US consolidated top spot with approval values rising from $36.5 billion to $58.2 billion over the past financial year.

The majority of the increase was attributed to Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

Canada was the second largest source of investment, ahead of Singapore and Japan.

Canada’s lift in the rankings is the result of increases in transaction values across commercial real estate, services and mineral exploration and development.

FIRB’s figures show overall foreign investment in Australia increased by $67.9 billion to $231 billion in 2018/19.

There was a sharp increase in approvals valued at more than $2 billion, up from two to 23 compared with last financial year.

Just one application was rejected with 8724 approvals from the 9466 considered.

Approvals were down 2421 on last year, partly attributed to the introduction of application fees in 2015 forcing real estate investors to be confident of getting the green light.

Investment in finance and insurance, manufacturing, electricity and gas and mineral exploration and development fell.

But there was strong growth in services – which remained the biggest sector at $76 billion – and real estate, along with smaller increases in agriculture, fishing and forestry. 

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