Australia open to Chinese investors but security issues are crucial – FIRB

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Australian and Chinese flags are seen at the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China on November 6, 2020. REUTERS / Aly Song / File Photo

SYDNEY, Oct. 14 (Reuters) – Australia is not closed to Chinese investors, but national security concerns and protection of critical infrastructure are now key factors determining the approval of the deals, the chief of its Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Chinese investment in Australia has fallen by more than 50% to around A $ 12 billion ($ 8.86 billion) in the past four years, due to Beijing’s tighter capital controls and a deterioration relations between countries.

“We have a non-discriminatory investment policy … both in terms of the areas in which you can invest … (and) in terms of provenance, the country from which the investment comes,” said the FIRB President David Irvine at the Citi Investment Conference.

He pointed out that 20% of transactions approved in the past year had some form of Chinese participation.

“We continue to welcome investment requests of Chinese interests. If they relate to areas of national security interest, they will be subject to the same types of consideration as other people investing in those areas.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, with exports reaching a record A $ 19.4 billion in July. However, diplomatic relations have deteriorated in recent years, and China has restricted imports of coal, wine and barley amid the dispute.

Last year Australia introduced the biggest reform of its foreign investment laws in nearly half a century, including giving the government the power to force the sale of a business if it creates a risk. for national security.

Irvine, a former Australian intelligence chief, said the backdrop to these reforms was the recognition that a growing element of the world war is the disruption of critical infrastructure and that Australia needs to take this into consideration, which do other countries as well.

“They say the Australian environment is tough and yes I hear these complaints all the time. But Australia is actually not alone in taking national security issues more into its investment regimes. . “

($ 1 = AU $ 1.3539)

Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Edited by Christian Schmollinger

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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