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Important to maintain an open and welcoming environment for Asian investment, even in rural land, NZ/Aus business forum says

Important to maintain an open and welcoming environment for Asian investment, even in rural land, NZ/Aus business forum says
Finance Minister Bill English discussed China-NZ investment with Jia Qinglin in Wellington this week.

New Zealand needs to maintain an open and welcoming environment for foreign investment, including investment in rural land, a New Zealand/Australia business forum has concluded.

Further restrictions on foreign investment in land would make it harder to access capital and more difficult to develop business relationships in Asia and other regions, hindering development in New Zealand, it said in the forum's closing remarks.

The issue of foreign ownership of New Zealand land has come to the fore in recent years as the Crafar Farms saga rolls on. A Chinese company, Shanghai Pengxin, has applied to purchase the 16 farms, an application which was initially accepted by the Overseas Investment Office.

But a rival bidder for the farms, a New Zealand consortium led by merchant banker Michael Fay, challenged the OIO's interpretation of the Overseas Investment Act in the High Court, which ruled in their favour, ordering the OIO to reconsider its decision.

The OIO's revised decision, made under a tighter set of economic benefit criteria, has been handed to the government ministers responsible for overseas land purchases. Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman have sought their own independent legal advice on the OIO's revised decision to see whether it fits with High Court Judge Forrest Miller's interpretation of the Overseas Investment Act.

It is believed Coleman and Williamson will announce their decision by the end of April.

Asia the future

The eighth annual Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum wound up overnight, with co-chair and Fletcher Building CEO Jonathan Ling saying both sides expressed a shared interest in building a future for Australia and New Zealand in Asian markets, underpinned by inward and outward investment, and built on the basis of a strong trans-Tasman single market.

"There was agreement that business needs to step up to articulate this vision more forcefully to domestic stakeholders, to develop new business models connecting with regional supply chains and to work with governments to promote both the development of Asia-relevant skills as well as a range of policy instruments which will foster greater economic integration in the region," Ling said.

'Be open to investment in rural land'

“Chief among these is the need to maintain an open and welcoming environment for foreign investment, including in agricultural land," Ling said.

"Calls for a more restrictive environment for foreign investment can only hinder business development by making it harder to access capital and develop key relationships in Asia and beyond. The cost will be slower economic growth and fewer jobs,” he said.

The remarks from the forum come after the fourth-ranked Chinese leader, Jia Qinglin, was hosted in Wellington by Finance Minister Bill English for talks on trade and investment between New Zealand and China.

Speaking to media in Parliament Buildings yesterday, English said discussions were broad natured, and did not touch on specific issues such as the Crafar Farms sale. 

Chinese authorities understood concerns in New Zealand about Chinese investment here, were sensitive to those concerns, and wanted to see them resolved, English said.

On course for single economic market

The leadership forum was co-chaired by Ling and Rod McGeoch on the Australian side. It brought together around 100 government, business and community leaders from both countries. Meeting under the theme “Australia and New Zealand – together in the Indo-Pacific century”, the Forum considered the broad strategic context for further expansion of the relationship in the lead up to the celebration of CER’s 30th anniversary in 2013. 

“Australia and New Zealand are well on the way to achieving a single economic market,” McGeoch, who is chairman of Sky City Entertainment Group, said. 

“The remaining steps require strong leadership. Business has a role to play in ensuring the remaining barriers are removed, including in relation to the movement of capital," McGeoch said.

"Beyond this we see the need for a bold new step to take the relationship to a new level.  The forthcoming report of the two Productivity Commissions, as mandated by the two Prime Ministers, will be critical in this regard. Businesses on both sides of the Tasman are resolved to participate the Productivity Commission process,” he said.

Business sessions at the Forum focused on investment, common border and Pacific development.

“Key issues like the mutual recognition of imputation and franking credits, Australian departure taxes, and the prospect of public private partnerships in the Pacific were well articulated and supported by business representatives on both sides.  Further work will now be done on these issues particularly in the context of the Productivity Commissions’ report,” McGeoch said.

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6 Comments

Under National we see democracy increasingly disappearing.
 
 Key said, English said, McGoech said, Coleman decided .........
 
…and Alex what is your opinion – the younger generation, which is confronted with such developments in the future. When does the public/ media of New Zealand understand, that such vital decisions need to be at least debated among the population of New Zealand ?

I am not completely blue in the face yet, so I will say it again, this time to you Mr Tarrant. "investment" and "ownership" have two different meanings

Where is National's mandate (or Labour's for that matter) for selling up our farmland.  All the polls that I have seen are solidly against it.  Unfortuneatly when we elect these governments, they assume that they have a mandate for a whole bunch of stuff that was never discussed in the election campaigns.  We need a method of tying the bastards down to the substance of their election campaigns or forcing them to a referendum for departures.

 

"Chief among these is the need to maintain an open and welcoming environment for foreign investment, including in agricultural land," Ling said

 

We don't need foreign capital, we need to start using our own. Our businesses, farms and households have fallen into the habit of spending their surpluses (capital IOW) and relying on someone else's surplus to fund their businesses or spendthrift lifestyles. Huge mistake!

Our listed companies seem to think they need to pay out dividends come hell or high water, when the SHTF, the only option is higher debt and/or flog your companies intellectual or physical capital to whoever's got ready cash, F&P to Haier for example.

No country has become or remained wealthy doing this, our forty year record of current account deficits tells you all you need to know.

Just take a stroll through your town - foreign owned Banks, shopping malls, retailers, supermarkets, power companies, telecommunications, parking companies and in the countryside: farms, forests, fishing vessels and power stations plus everyone in debt to foreign lenders. All of these profits, dividends and interest payments are bleeding this country white. And this so called leadership forum is saying we need more of this?

 

 

It's unclear who wrote this article.Clearly the author has no idea of history. Farmers are price takers- that's a fancy name for peasants-just like my forebears. NZ had a co-operative model built out of the idea of independent farmers working co-operatively.I'm talking post-colonial and setting aside the valid Maori/European colonisation debate for a moment. Foreigners ( with no commitment to NZ beyond making a buck)are doing three things basically, namely: 1 Bailing out banks which over-lent ( Crafers refers) 2 Gaining a strategic advantage in view of NZ's arable land and water resourses v the world;3 Cashing in on NZ's name and reputation- why does the Chinese conglomerate use NZ in their name?. The sale of land to foreigners of any stripe is naievity writ large. It takes no notice of dirty money finding a home in NZ' and even less world history.It assumes that when foreign interest outweigh our own they won't impose their values on us. NZ is squandering a unique advantage as it has with forestry which is now substantially overseas owned. If that's our answer NZ isn't going to be the country for my children I grew up in.
Brendan Lawler

It's unclear who wrote this article.Clearly the author has no idea of history. Farmers are price takers- that's a fancy name for peasants-just like my forebears. NZ had a co-operative model built out of the idea of independent farmers working co-operatively.I'm talking post-colonial and setting aside the valid Maori/European colonisation debate for a moment. Foreigners ( with no commitment to NZ beyond making a buck)are doing three things basically, namely: 1 Bailing out banks which over-lent ( Crafers refers) 2 Gaining a strategic advantage in view of NZ's arable land and water resourses v the world;3 Cashing in on NZ's name and reputation- why does the Chinese conglomerate use NZ in their name?. The sale of land to foreigners of any stripe is naievity writ large. It takes no notice of dirty money finding a home in NZ' and even less world history.It assumes that when foreign interest outweigh our own they won't impose their values on us. NZ is squandering a unique advantage as it has with forestry which is now substantially overseas owned. If that's our answer NZ isn't going to be the country for my children I grew up in.
Brendan Lawler