Does Australia Own Anything of Australia? By James Reed
No, Australia has virtually been vaporised.
“Between ports, energy companies, dairy processors, cattle stations, waterfront mansions and country estates – just how much of Australia does China own?
Our biggest trading partner also remains one of our biggest sources of foreign investment, although rising tensions between the two countries have resulted in a sharp drop-off over the past two years.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, China was our ninth-largest foreign investor at the end of 2019 with a total of $78.2 billion, accounting for 2 per cent of the total – however a large amount of Chinese investment comes via Hong Kong, which comes in fifth place with $141 billion, or 3.7 per cent of the total.
New Chinese commercial investment in Australia nearly halved in 2019 to just $2.5 billion, according to the Australian National University’s Chinese Investment in Australia (CHIIA) database, having fallen for three consecutive years since peaking at $15.8 billion in 2016.
Slightly different figures produced by the University of Sydney and KPMG, which are based on date of contracting, put Chinese investment in Australia at $3.4 billion in 2019, a 58.4 per cent fall on the previous year.
CHIIA, which is considered the most accurate source of Chinese investment figures as it is based on actual transactions, showed major falls in mining, real estate, commercial property, manufacturing and agriculture, but modest gains in construction, education and finance.
“Judging from the information so far this year, we’d expect Chinese investment to be lower in 2020,” lead analyst Mary Ming Sheng told The Australian Financial Review in September. “That’s partly because of COVID-19 but also because the Australian investment environment has tightened.”
ANU professor Peter Drysdale, who heads the CHIIA project, attributed the fall to a combination of Beijing’s attempts to stem the flow of capital offshore and Chinese companies’ increasing focus on developing markets, to new regulatory barriers imposed by the Australian government.
“Chinese investors now view Australia as a more difficult place to invest in now, there’s no question about that,” he told the ABC.
Good, let us make it as difficult as possible!