Chinese investment in Australia plummets by almost $5b

23 May 2019

Chinese investment in Australia fell by 50 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to new data from The Australian National University (ANU).

The Chinese Investment in Australia (CHIIA) data, released today, shows investment fell from $9.6 billion in 2017 to $4.8 billion last year - the lowest level in five years. 

The figure represents a $9 billion decline from a peak of $15.8 billion in 2016. Between 2014 and 2016 investment rose from $5.7 billion to $15.8 billion.  

The CHIIA Database has monitored Chinese investment in Australia for the last five years - covering the calendar years 2014 to 2018.

CHIIA's lead researcher Susan Travis said "there was no cause for panic when it came to Chinese investment - but it does bear watching".  

"The rise and fall recorded by CHIIA is in line with global Chinese outward investment trends," Ms Travis said.   

Australia and China must recalibrate their relationship: new report

The release of the latest CHIIA figures coincide with a new report from the ANU Asian Bureau of Economic Research, Getting the Australia-China Relationship Right ­- also released today.

The report details the strength and robust growth of the Australia-China trade relationship.

"While Chinese investment to Australia is broadly in line with Chinese investment globally, that wasn't the case last year. This is a warning sign and is one of the issues that needs to be addressed in the relationship", said Professor Peter Drysdale, a co-author of the report.

"The China-Australia economic relationship faces a range of challenges including uncertainties in the global economy and an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing." 

The report says that narratives about 'the silent invasion' and 'false choices' are a distraction in the relationship.

"Australia and China have big shared interests," said Professor Drysdale.

"Australia and China must work closely together in multilateral organisations to defend and strengthen the international system.

"We also suggest China and Australia set up a binational commission which will help the two countries define the nature of the relationship they want to develop, and their strategies to achieve those goals." 

Overall the report shows Australia's economic ties to China had strengthened over the last five years.

Bilateral trade has grown five times more rapidly than the world average, reaching $192 billion in 2018-growth driven by Australian commodity exports and strong trade diversification fostered within the global trade system.

The CHIIA report is available at: http://chiia.eaber.org/publications

The 'Getting the Australia-China Relationship Right' report is available at:http://eaber.org/node/26963


Table 

CHIIA Database: Chinese investment in Australia

2014 - 2018, ($A, billions)

2014

5.7

2015

11.0

2016

15.8

2017

9.6

2018

4.8