Chinese investment in Australia is at its highest since the GFC

Chinese New Year in Sydney. Image: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Chinese investors sunk almost $A15 billion into Australia last year.

And those state-owned enterprise and private investors, whose buying in Australia is at its highest since the GFC, are also upbeat about the local business outlook over the next three years.

Last year was the second largest inflow in new Chinese investment to Australia, behind the 2008 peak. Australia is the number two destination for Chinese investment after the US.

And Chinese tourists are becoming increasingly important to the Australian economy. More than 1 million Chinese tourists arrived last year, each spending more than $7000, about twice that of any other tourist.

Overall, Chinese overseas direct investment in Australia was up 32.9% in US dollar terms to US$11.1 billion ($A14.68 billion) in 2015, according to analysis by KPMG.

This included significant investment into renewable energy and health, and growth in agriculture and agribusiness.

Source: KPMG

Chinese investors also moved into new geographies with the Northern Territory getting $A565 million for the first time. NSW remains the top destination with $A7.44 billion or 49.3% of the national total.

The drivers of this growth are a return to mega-sized deals with seven deals of $A500 million or more. Last year there were 65 legally binding deals announced, the largest number in any single year.

The biggest was the purchase in December of renewable energy business Pacific Hydro for $A3 billion by China’s State Power Investment Corporation.

In a survey within the KPMG study, Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australia, Chinese investors have a highly positive business outlook for the next three years.

“All businesses we interviewed hold a highly positive medium to long term view of Australia and are looking to increase their investments, including investors in the real estate sectors,” KPMG says.

“Companies we interviewed emphasised their strategic motives for investing in Australia. They see Australia as an entry point into new markets.”

Based on information from the 11 interviewed companies, the overall number of local employees is 8070, while the number of expatriates sent from China to Australian operations is just 58.