//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

China’s land grab in Australia hidden by “corporate veil”


Chinese Investment Australia

Chinese Investment Australia

Chinese investors may own less than 1 per cent of Australian farmland, but the true level is not known because it is hidden behind a corporate veil, according to a new report that offers support to the establishment of a formal register of foreign land ownership in Australia.

A joint report by accountants KPMG and the University of Sydney says Chinese investment in Australian agricultural land totalled more than $1 billion between 2006 and 2012, or just 3 per cent of that country’s investment in Australia over the period.

While there is anecdotal evidence of Chinese investors buying agricultural properties worth less than $US5 million ($5.2m), “detailed public information on such deals is nearly impossible to obtain”, the report, Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australian Agribusiness, says.

The true identities of the landowners were not known as deals were made through through individual, corporate or trust structures.

“Until we have a national record of foreign ownership of Australian land that looks through the corporate veil, it will be difficult to establish the extent of Chinese ownership below $US5m,” the report says.

Both the government and the opposition separately committed before the election to establish a register of agricultural land and agribusiness ownership to address concerns that foreign investors were buying up the farm.

The government is also pursuing changes to foreign investment rules that would lower the threshold at which the Foreign Investment Review Board would need to review deals, from $248m to $53m for agribusinesses and $15m for farmland.

The KPMG/Sydney Uni report says foreigners own an estimated 11.3 per cent of Australian agricultural land and that Chinese investors may own less than 1 per cent.

However, the report says investments below $US5m are less relevant to the investment debate because of the small scale of the assets, the apparent lifestyle choices behind such deals and the absence of any effort to aggregate such holdings into large farm enterprises.

The report estimates the value of Chinese investment in Australian food and fibre production at just over $1bn over six years, including the purchase of cotton farm Cubbie Station by Shandong Jining Ruyi, smallgoods wholesaler Manassen Foods by Bright Food Group and Tully Sugar by China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation.

That represents just 3 per cent of the total Chinese investment in Australia.

However, the report warns that Australia should not expect to see many large-scale deals because many of the largest and most attractive businesses in the dairy, grains, sugar and food processing sectors are already foreign-owned.

Australian farms are still mostly held by small family owners, with 55 per cent of the 135,000 farm businesses having an estimated operating value of less than $100,000.

The report says China’s emerging food needs are centred on food safety – because of recent high-profile scandals involving meat and milk – rather than food security and that Australian businesses should look to partner with Chinese companies to exploit China’s growing demand for safe, premium fresh and processed foods.

It also urges companies not to wait for a free trade agreement with China but to consider memorandums of understanding such as those signed by Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia that have opened up commercial opportunities.

Separate figures from the Australian Food and Grocery Council show exports of food, beverages, groceries and fresh produce increased by $1.1bn between 2010-11 and 2012-13.

Source: The Australian – China land grab hidden by ‘corporate veil’
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,358 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

In a recent briefing, the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines warned, “I would characterize it as the Russians aren’t winning, and the Ukrainians aren’t winning, and we’re at a bit of a stalemate here.” So, where is the Russia-Ukraine war heading? What is Russian President Putin planning next? Is Europe ready for […]

China is defying global order to expand power, US admiral warns

China is defying global order to expand power, US admiral warns

The Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are destabilizing international order in an effort to expand their global power, Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, warned lawmakers during a House hearing on Tuesday. In his written testimony submitted to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Adm. Aquilino explained that the Department […]

China – Autocracy and decoupling technical tests

China – Autocracy and decoupling technical tests

We have noticed that the embrace with China had become suffocating in the last twenty years. The West universe of consumers and China the factory of the world. We started with modest and low value-added materials and products, to refine the trajectory and revolution to the most refined and complex technologies, such as 5G and […]

Four ways China is growing its media influence in Southeast Asia

Four ways China is growing its media influence in Southeast Asia

As President Biden welcomes leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to a special summit this week in Washington, D.C., his administration is affirming Beijing as the U.S.’s main rival and underscoring the region’s importance in U.S.-China competition. The two-day event is part of the U.S effort to woo ASEAN members caught in a […]

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

A strong international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is critical to deterring China from embarking on territorial conquests in Taiwan or the South China Sea, said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. “China has been carefully observing the current situation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and they are paying particularly close attention to what […]

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

Finland is a unique country with a distinct language and culture. However, its possession was always contested between Sweden and Russia. Though Finland mainly remained under Swedish control in 1809, it was annexed by Russia. Using the end of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in late 1917, Finland declared its independence from the […]

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans to develop a system for monitoring asteroids that pose a threat to earth, highlighting the nation’s growing ambitions for its space program. The country will also explore ways for taking out asteroids that endanger the planet, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said in a TV interview, according to […]

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Formally, Russia is not at war with Ukraine, where it claims to be conducting a so-called “special military operation.” But with Japan, given that Moscow and Tokyo never signed a peace treaty officially ending World War II, the two Asian neighbors remain technically at war. And after Japan recently described four Kuril islands whose ownership […]

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with China

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with  China

A tiny island chain in the South Pacific has Western governments scrambling after it agreed to a security pact with China that the United States and its allies fear could enhance Beijing’s military power in this strategically important region.  The deal between China and the Solomon Islands, a nation of 700,000 people that had deadly […]

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

Militaries all around the world are looking at integrating modern technology into their military weapons. China, as usual, appears to be making serious efforts to prepare for the future battleground, this time, with plans to include artificial intelligence and high-speed features in its future choppers. During a recent public lecture, a prominent Chinese military helicopter […]

%d bloggers like this: