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Australia looks to import millionaire investors

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Stacey Vanek Smith: If you have $5 million lying around and you like wide open spaces and crocodiles, you could find a new home down under. Australia has just announced a new class of visa intended to attract investor-types to the country.

But as Stuart Cohen reports, they’re not expecting a lot of Americans to take the bait.

Stuart Cohen: Australia is rolling out the red carpet for millionaires. Starting July 1, they’re offering permanent residency to anyone willing to invest $5 million in an Australian company, venture capital fund, or government bonds. 

Immigration minister Chris Bowen says Australia wants to attract the kind of people able to keep the country’s economy competitive.

Chris Bowen: What we’re looking for is an investment in Australia financially, also an investment emotionally. Because these are people who can contribute a lot to investing in our capital and providing for investment in very important projects throughout the country.

But the government isn’t looking to the West to import its millionaires. Instead, Australia expects most of the interest to come from countries in the East — particularly China, where the super rich might want a better place to live.

Bowen: The private wealth market of China is ever increasing. Australia’s well placed to attract investors who are looking for the financial security offered by a stable government and economy.

But critics complain the new program prioritizes the wealthy over refugees and others waiting to be reunited with their families.

In Sydney, I’m Stuart Cohen for Marketplace.

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