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(Australian Associated Press)
CHINESE INVESTMENT IN AUSTRALIA
* Chinese investment in Australia was almost non-existent before 2007
* But it has hit $3 billion net inflows each year for the past three years
* For three years in a row, China has been Australia’s largest source of proposed foreign investment approvals
* China accounted for about 25 per cent of the value of all approved investment in 2016/17
* However the stock of Chinese direct investment in Australia was still only 4.8 per cent of the total at the end of 2017.
(Source: Treasury Secretary Philip Gaetjens)
Australia’s open stance on foreign investment must not come before national security, the Treasury boss has told a Chinese investment forum.
Treasury secretary Philip Gaetjens told the Chinese Investment and Australia Forum on Monday that Australia welcomes foreign investment to unlock new projects.
“Whilst we approve the vast majority of proposed investments, having only rejected a handful of proposals in the last decade … that openness is a means to an end, not an end in itself, nor an absolute,” he said in his speech.
“We do not resile from protecting our national security.
“The Australian government has recognised the importance of addressing risks to critical infrastructure in a considered and proactive manner.”
Mr Gaetjens said Australia also has to consider the national interest of protecting unique industries or allowing concentration of too much market power.
He also said Australia and China are important trading partners, with two-way trade reaching a record high of $183 billion in 2017.
“We are already a reliable exporter of quality agricultural goods, with China accounting for around three-quarters of our wool, almost a third of our alcoholic beverages and around one quarter of our seafood product exports,” Mr Gaetjens said.
A new database tracking Chinese investment in Australia was launched on Monday, built through the Australian National University with the support of Treasury, businesses and large consultancies.
“This database adds clarity about the scale and structure of Chinese investment in Australia in a way that we haven’t had before,” Professor Peter Drysdale said.
Mr Gaetjens said the database would give Australians clarity about how much China is investing in Australia and where projects end up.
“Amidst global trade tensions, it is important that we continue to support open and transparent trade and investment flows,” he said.