The Foreign Investment Review Board has today published Guidance Note 53: Temporary measures in response to the coronavirus. This new Guidance Note addresses the effects of the temporary changes to the foreign investment regime announced by the Treasurer on 29 March 2020. FIRB guidance on the effect of the temporary changes will from now be provided through Guidance Note 53 rather than the previously published Q&A.
It is three weeks since the Treasurer announced temporary changes to our foreign investment regime. In this note, I want to thank the Foreign Investment Review Board’s (FIRB) stakeholders for their support and understanding during this period, and provide an update on our progress in implementing these measures.
Consistent with the Treasurer’s announcement on 29 March 2020 of temporary changes to Australia’s foreign investment framework, the Government has introduced amendments to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Regulation 2015. The Regulation amends the monetary value thresholds which apply in determining whether particular foreign investments made on or after 10:30 pm (AEDT) Sunday, 29 March 2020 are subject to Australia’s foreign investment framework to nil.
If you are experiencing issues contacting our staff via the FIRB phone line +61 2 6263 3795, please be aware that you can also contact our staff using the following email: FIRBEnquiries@treasury.gov.au.
Two additional questions regarding existing exemption certificates and residential real estate approvals have been added to Q&A – Temporary changes to foreign investment framework.
The Treasurer has today announced temporary changes to the foreign investment review framework. The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) was consulted upon and fully supports the changes.
These temporary measures have been necessitated by extraordinary economic circumstances. Foreign investment is and will continue to be critical to Australia’s prosperity. These temporary measures are necessary to protect the national interest during an historically challenging time for the economy, businesses and the broader community.
Following the Treasurer’s announcement of Sunday, 29 March 2020, the threshold amounts which apply in determining whether particular foreign investments made on or after 10:30 pm (AEDT) Sunday, 29 March 2020 are subject to Australia’s foreign investment framework are now $0.
The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) recognises that measures being implemented globally, and in Australia by governments, businesses and individuals, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting the ability of some investors to progress investment decisions.
We are currently experiencing an increase in processing times for foreign investment applications reflecting the high volume of applications recently submitted through the FIRB portal. Applicants should expect that case processing times will often be extended beyond the 30 days outlined in the FATA. Our case officers will contact applicants to discuss the expected time frame for processing their applications, taking account of any commercial deadlines related to those proposed investments. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Under the Australian Government’s Regulator Performance Framework, regulators must undertake an annual self-assessment of their performance against six key outcome-based performance indicators (KPIs).
The overall 2018-19 assessment for FIRB agencies (Treasury and ATO) was that the KPIs were met.
On 11 February 2020, the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) came into force. One of the outcomes of the PAFTA is that Peruvian investors are now subject to higher monetary thresholds for foreign investment screening. For privately-owned Peruvian investors, acquisitions of non-sensitive businesses and of developed commercial land will now be subject to a threshold of $1,192 million. Amendments have been made to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Regulation 2015 to give effect to this change.
On 17 January 2020, the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AU-HKFTA) came into force. One of the outcomes of the AU-HKFTA is that Hong Kong investors are now subject to higher monetary thresholds for foreign investment screening. For privately-owned Hong Kong investors, acquisitions of non-sensitive businesses and of developed commercial land will now be subject to a threshold of $1,192 million. Amendments have been made to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Regulation 2015 to give effect to this change.
Monetary thresholds for foreign investors were indexed on 1 January 2020.