Will Canada’s Loss be Australia’s Gain?

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By Athena Yenko | February 25, 2014 1:35 PM EST

Rich Chinese investors affected by Canada's decision to stop giving visa for its foreign investor programme are eyeing Australia for future investments.

On Feb 12, CNN reported that Canada was dumping its investor programme popular among rich Chinese investors. The programme permitted foreign investors to acquire permanent residency in China provided they have a minimum net worth of C$1.6 million and that they were willing to invest C$800,000 through a multi-year government loan without interest.

Canada's decision to scrap its investor programme led rich Chinese investor to eye Australia for future investments - a positive gain, according to Tyndall Asset Management's head of fixed income, Roger Bridges.

According to Mr Bridges, future investments among rich Chinese will trim down the threat of real estate market decline in Australia. He said that Chinese investors saw the country's housing market as "low probability, high impact" market.

A research from HSBC Bank found that the Australian market is one among the top choices among rich foreign investors. One-third of rich Asians acquired properties abroad, according to the survey.

Among Chinese assessed by HSBC, 9 per cent from mainland China and 10 per cent from Hong Kong acquired properties in Australia.

This had been good news among local property developers.

Australand, for example, said that Chinese acquisitions almost doubled the company's annual earning average of 8 per cent as it sold about 15 per cent of its housing projects to foreign investors in 2013. There was an impressive sales made through its office in Hong Kong. Australand said that with the 2013 sales as its basis, it can now target the same level of earning for 2014.

However, some real property analysts said that Australia should not be overly optimistic, after all, Canada dumped its investor programme because it recognised that it was not instrumental in boosting Canada's economy.

"For decades, it has significantly undervalued Canadian permanent residence, providing a pathway to Canadian citizenship in exchange for a guaranteed loan that is significantly less than our peer countries require. There is also little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country," the Canadian Ministry of Finance wrote in its 2014 budget report.

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