Foreign investment has played an important role in the Australian economy since the country’s foundation. Part of the latest wave of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia has been by Chinese firms, and largely by state-owned enterprises with connections to the Chinese state. Despite the value it has generated for the Australian economy, Chinese FDI has been controversial and has exposed some of the shortcomings in Australia’s foreign investment review process. This paper evaluates Australia’s foreign investment regime, and pays particular attention to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). Questions are asked about how closely the FIRB’s role and processes regulatory best practice. The paper also considers whether greater fidelity by the FIRB to principles of good governance could better serve Australia’s broad policy interests and reduce Chinese perceptions of an opaque and discriminatory foreign investment regime.
Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board and the Regulation of Chinese Investment