Jun 21

China Watch Blog has learnt that an increasing number of China’s rich are snapping up properties overseas in the expectation that domestic inflation will continue to rise after the consumer price index reached a 34-month high in May.

According to Colliers International, a real estate service provider, the proportion of Chinese buyers in Vancouver’s property market is on the rise. At the end of the first quarter this year, it increased to 29 percent of all homebuyers.

In the past six months, Chinese spent 1.3 billion yuan ($200 million) through Colliers’ international property department, with Canada, the UK and Australia topping the buying list.

“We are expecting a clear increase in the extent of mainland buyers’ purchases of overseas properties this year because of the government’s rigorous restraint on the number of homes a family can buy in key cities,” said Alan Liu, managing director of Colliers International (North Asia).

Due to the latest financial push from China, the average price of a home in Greater Vancouver rose 12 percent in 2010 and is expected to rise another 3 percent this year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Demand from mainland immigrants now accounts for 29 percent of all new homes in Vancouver.

The situation in London is similar. Last year, overseas nationals purchased 28 percent of all resale properties across all prime London sites and 54 percent by value in the prime central London area in the more than 5 million pound ($8 million) price bracket, according to a recent report by Savills research.

“If the money from China were to start flowing into London at the same rate it does from billionaires in other countries, we would expect the value of ultra-prime London properties to grow by as much as 15 per cent,” said Yolande Barnes, head of Savills residential research. “The issue at present is that Chinese buyers aren’t taking, or can’t take, their money out of China.”

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Jun 21

China Watch Blog has learnt that the Mainland China, already the world’s second-largest luxury goods market, will soon slash import duties on opulent items to encourage wealthy local shoppers to buy more pricey cosmetics, watches and liquor.

Chinese media said Mainland’s high import duties of 50 percent for cosmetics and 30 percent for high-end watches have driven many rich Chinese mainland consumers to shop in Hong Kong, London and Paris, a trend that several Chinese ministries want to change.

London - Heathrow

The 21st Century Business Herald reported citing unidentified sources that China’s finance ministry may unveil a revamped tax system before the National Day holiday in October so that Chinese consumers can buy luxury brands such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton at home over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Shopping in London

The bid to keep well-heeled Chinese shoppers at home is in line with Beijing’s over-arching plan to boost domestic consumption and cut China’s dependence on exports to drive its economy, the world’s second largest.

With the new taxes, duties on imported cosmetics, milk powder, watches, clothes, suitcases and shoes are expected to be reduced or even scrapped entirely, it said.

Luxury good makers and government officials from the finance and commerce ministries have held closed-door meetings to discuss China’s new tax model, the newspaper reported.

Owing to hefty import taxes, prices of 20 luxury brands of watches, suitcases, clothes, liquor and consumer electronics in the Chinese mainland are 45 percent higher than those in Hong Kong, 51 percent higher than US prices, and 72 percent higher than French prices, a study by China’s commerce ministry showed.

Chinese tourists are the biggest group of foreign shoppers in France, buying 650 million euros ($933.7 million) of duty free items in 2010, a recent survey by Global Refund showed.

Investment group CLSA forecasts that China will become the world’s largest market for luxury goods by 2020 as China’s burgeoning middle class indulges in high living.

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