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Are free trade agreements making Swiss cheese of Australia's foreign investment regime?


  • Shiro Armstrong
  • Sam Reinhardt
  • Tom Westland


Until 2005, Australia's foreign investment regime treated all investment sources on a non-discriminatory basis but since then some important preferential exemptions to screening have been introduced. Bilateral deals with the USA and New Zealand more than quadrupled the threshold to A$1.078 billion for investments that must be screened by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). This represents a major liberalisation towards investment from those countries, given that a vast majority of investment is below the A$1 billion threshold. Some new rules regarding investment have also been introduced in those bilateral agreements which only apply to the signatories of those deals. The piecemeal changes to the foreign investment regime through bilateral trade and economic agreements have occurred without a clear strategy set forth and further piecemeal changes threaten to impact the operation and function of the regime with implications for confidence in Australia maintaining an open investment environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Shiro Armstrong & Sam Reinhardt & Tom Westland, 2017. "Are free trade agreements making Swiss cheese of Australia's foreign investment regime?," International Journal of Public Policy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 13(3/4/5), pages 290-303.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijpubp:v:13:y:2017:i:3/4/5:p:290-303

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    More about this item


    investment policy; Australian investment regime; free trade agreements; preferential trade agreements; state-owned enterprises; SOEs; Chinese overseas investment.;

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business


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