China's Investment In Australia Slumps 40% Amid Diplomatic Spat

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese investment in Australia plunged 40 percent in 2017 from the year before, according to research released Monday.

After peaking in 2016 at A$14.9 billion ($10.5 billion), investment from Chinese companies last year slumped to A$8.9 billion, according to the Australian National University database. In 2017, Chinese deals in Australia’s mining sector accounted for just over half of the total value of transactions, with the health-care and social assistance sector at about 15 percent, according to the database.

While the report doesn’t offer explanations for last year’s steep decline in investment, business relations between the nations have been under increasing pressure due to a diplomatic spat, sparked by concern in Australia about alleged Chinese meddling in government and media. The figures may also reflect Beijing’s decision to implement controls on the outflow of capital.

Earlier this year, Australian exporters blamed strained ties for delays of shipments into China as the nation in June passed sweeping laws against foreign interference, which then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said was aimed in part at reducing Chinese meddling in national affairs.

Collating data between 2014 and 2017 showed state-owned enterprises accounted for about 47 percent of total Chinese investment in Australia, the university said. The research used figures from the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and includes investment from Hong Kong and other global financial centers.

Several planned high-profile investments into Australia by Chinese state-owned companies and others linked to the government in Beijing have been blocked on national security grounds. FIRB is currently weighing up whether to approve CK Group’s A$13 billion bid for gas pipeline operator APA Group.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.