Chinese investment in Australia grows to $32b

by Andrea Waitrovich

For the third year in a row, China was the largest source of approved investment (A$47.3 billion/$34.7 billion) in Australia, driven by continuing approvals in the real estate sector (A$32 billion/$23 billion), according to the latest Foreign Investment Review Board annual report.

The A$31.9 billion ($23.4 billion) was toward residential development assets.

FIRB said investment in development assets, such as new dwellings, vacant land and redevelopment of existing residential property that increases the housing stock was 85.4 percent of all residential approvals.

Overall, the United States was the second largest source of approved investment but the largest investor in non–real estate sectors, with A$31 billion ($23 billion) as total investment and $8.2 billion to real estate.

The Netherlands followed in third with A$16.5 billion ($12.1 billion) as a total amount, $1.3 billion to real estate. And Canada invested A$3.2 billion ($2.4 billion) in real estate, and $15.7 billion as a total amount investment in Australia. United Arab Emirates invested $6.7 billion in Australia and A$3.6 billion ($2.6 billion) in real estate.

High-value commercial property approvals increased in 2015–2016; up by more than $10 billion and 100 approvals compared with 2014–2015.

Since assuming the role in 2015, the Australian Taxation Office has worked to increase compliance with and enforcement of the foreign investment rules for real estate. In 2015–2016, divestments were issued in 39 cases for residential properties valued at A$48.7 million ($5.7 billion).

While Melbourne received more foreign investment approvals than Sydney, price growth in Sydney was much stronger than in Melbourne.

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