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Chinese investment in Australia fell 36% in2018, to A$8.2 billion (US$6.2 billion) from A$13 billion (US$10 billion) in2017, according to research by KPMG and the University of Sydney BusinessSchool.


This is despite Chinese investors stillgenerally regarding Australia as safer and more attractive than most othercountries. So 2018 need not be a turning point. But it is cause for reflection.


Chinese direct investment to Australia byvalue 2007–2018 (US$ million). KPMG/Sydney University database, Author provided(No reuse)


Discussion about Chinese investment inrecent years has been dominated by political and security concerns. Theseconcerns need to be balanced by the national interest in economic prosperity.Chinese investment creates jobs, increases export opportunities and deepensrelations with our most significant trade partner.



The only sector where investment did notfall was health care, where investment more than doubled to A$3.4 billion. Thismade health care the biggest investment sector, attracting 41.7% of all Chinesemoney, relegating commercial real estate (36.7%) to second place.


Chinese direct investment in Australia byIndustry in 2018 (percentage of total). The KPMG/Sydney University database,Author provided (No reuse)



In the United States, Chinese investmentfell 83% to US$4.8 billion from US$29 billion in 2017. In Canada, it fell 47%to US$3.4 billion from US$6.2 billion in 2017.


Accumulated Chinese investment inAustralia, US and EU from 2014 to 2018 (US$ billion). KPMG & University ofSydney, Author provided (No reuse)


Balancing competing concerns


Australian governments, corporations andprofessional advisers need to consider what types of Chinese investments andinvestors are desired and actively welcome in Australia.


Our report points to areas where Chineseinvestment is in Australia’s national interest and benefits the globalintegration and competitiveness of Australian industries.


Health care is a key example.


Chinese investment in Australian healthcare sector (A$ million). The KPMG/Sydney University database, Author provided(No reuse)


Chinese investment in health care companieshas both provided capital for innovation and facilitated entry into the Chinesemarket.


Take the Chinese private equity firm CDHbuying Sirtex Medical Ltd for A$1.9 billion. Sirtex is an Australian medicaldevice company with a treatment for liver cancer. Its acquisition enablesexpansion into China, which accounts for more half of the global incidence ofliver cancer.



At a time of global uncertainty, Australianpoliticians, bureaucrats, business leaders, educational organisations andothers must work quietly and respectfully with their Chinese counterparts toallay community concerns and consolidate Australia’s reputation as a welcomingand proactive partner.

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1、Does China createjobs in Australia? I would think China takes jobs from Australia and puts themin China.


We now sell low value produce to China suchas cattle and coal, and import high value produce such as cars and computersfrom China.


There are an estimated 60,000 factories inthe US that closed down since China joined the WTO, and a significant number wouldhave closed in Australia also. I can remember a segment on TV where the lastremaining toy factory in Australia closed down, and almost everything inside ahouse is now imported from China.



(回复2)I know Trump has made it fashionable to blame China for current USeconomic difficulties, but it was the US who backed the global free trade pushand demanded the world go neo-liberal and had the GFC contagion which spreadworldwide.


In contrast for Australia the developmentof China has been a boom. Why, theliberals have even claimed that it was China, not labor’s fiscal spend, whichsaved Australia from the full force of the GFC.


It is important for Australia to keep onthe hop and not be a one export market dependent. As for low wages and casualisation, and jobinsecurity, Australia seems to be getting better and better at that littleexercise all by herself.


2、Perhaps the authorsshould read the news headlines? If the price of the investment is Chinesediplomats interfering in local councils then we don’t want them at any price.


(回复1)I agree, Jock. If the priceof Chinese investment in Australia is the totalitarian Chinese government’sinterference in our political and social affairs, we may need to be prepared totake some economic pain if we ‘push back’ against such interference.



3、Maybe Australianpoliticians should be concentrating on how to encourage Australian ownedbusinesses employing Australian citizens to flourish. Instead we seem to havelazy politicians simply selling out as much of Australia as they can to foreigninterests, and importing more of everything, while not believing in science andexpert opinion, a recipe for even larger economic problems for Australia’sfuture. Keeping one of the highest net immigration rates of any developedcountry is also simply masking the true state of the Australian economy.


4、In the UnitedStates, Chinese investment fell 83% to US$4.8 billion from US$29 billion in2017. In Canada, it fell 47% to US$3.4 billion from US$6.2 billion in 2017. Tomy mind this is the key sentence, and begins to put the drop in someperspective in terms of where the investment is going and where it isn’t.Australia is not doing too badly, with a drop of 36%. A pattern of earlierfluctuations is also important.


What would also be useful, however, is someinformation on 1) where Chinese investment is being re-concentrated, and 2) towhat extent China’s outward investment has dropped across the board.


For example, has the appearance of theAsian Infrastructure Investment Bank (set up in 2015 and based in Beijing)shifted investment focus? Ditto the Belt and Road Initiative. (And it might gethard to separate the two?)


This larger context could mean 1) there isvery little Australia can do to influence the situation, and 2) the pool ofChinese investment that can be attracted in Australia’s direction is not goingto return to previous levels.


If “national interest” is defined in termsof matters where a nation can actually have an influence or make a difference,and if China’s overseas investment is in the process of locking into newarrangements, then we might need some thinking “outside the box” rather thanagonising over balance sheets.


5、“At a time of globaluncertainty, Australian politicians, bureaucrats, business leaders, educationalorganisations and others must work quietly and respectfully with their Chinesecounterparts to allay community concerns and consolidate Australia’s reputationas a welcoming and proactive partner.” This is reminiscent of Orwell. Here ismy translation.“At a time of global uncertainty, Australian politicians,bureaucrats, business leaders, educational organisations and others must workcovertly and sub-ordinately with their Chinese economic masters to suppresslegitimate community concerns and consolidate Australia’s reputation with ourChinese masters as a sycophantic partner.”


Overall, if the skills, know-how, andtechnology can be developed locally, the federal government should use fiscalpolicy and industry policy to make it happen. Fiscal policy and industrypolicy, combined with trade controls and capital controls where appropriate,are the most potent policy levers that the national government has to increasethe nation’s productivity level and guarantee that the productivity gains raiseeverybody’s living standards, not just the wealth and power of a few.

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