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China Sovereign Fund Seeks Easing of Australia Investment Rules

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April 7 (Bloomberg) -- An executive from China Investment Corp., the nation’s $482 billion sovereign wealth fund, told Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard that he hopes her government will reduce restrictions on foreign investment.

Jin Liqun, head of the fund’s supervisory board, said in an interview after a group of Chinese and Australian executives met with Australian officials that he had also raised the issue of investment limits in past discussions. The restrictions affect CIC’s investments and fund flows into Australia, Jin said yesterday in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, where he’s attending the Boao Forum for Asia.

He said Gillard told the executives at the meeting that Australia welcomes Chinese investment and that the country was “hungry for capital.”

Gillard, during her trip to China, may seek a deal that allows direct conversion of Australian dollars into yuan to reduce the cost of trade and investment transactions, the Australian newspaper reported March 30. She is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum and later with Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Jin said. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner.

“China hopes to invest in Australia,” Jin said. “Australian businessmen also hope to invest in China.”

Jin said that Australia classifies all state-owned Chinese companies as being extensions of the government and caps the combined total number of shares they can own in an Australian company. “We operate independently so you can’t calculate us together,” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect the issue to be resolved immediately.

High-level meetings such as those Gillard is to have with Xi and Li will promote cooperation between the countries and continued negotiation can lead to a gradual reduction of barriers to capital, Jin said.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Li Liu in Beijing at lliu255@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Liu at jliu42@bloomberg.net

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