Feds seek foreign land register

Federated Farmers wants a foreign land register to provide more information on farms and rural businesses in overseas ownership.

National president Bruce Wills told the Primary Industry Forum his organisation supports foreign investment because the country was built on it and can’t progress without it.

He says the Overseas Investment Act strikes the right balance and Federated Farmers wouldn’t support further controls on foreigners buying farmland.

But he says more information is needed about the amount of land in foreign hands. . .

I don’t think we need any more controls on foreign ownership but it would help the discussion if there was better information on the issue.

We know when foreigners buy land but we don’t always know what happens to it after that.

If a foreign buyer sells to another it will need Overseas Investment Office approval and become public but sales to New Zealanders aren’t always publicised.

Nor do we always know if the foreigners who buy land or businesses are residents about which most people have fewer reservations.

However, a report by the New Zealand Initiative does debunk several myths including:

Myth: Asians are increasing taking over New Zealand.
Fact: It is Australians who have largely been taking over New Zealand. In the year to March 2012, they own 55.8% of foreign investment – up from 31.5% in March 2001. In March 2012, Asian investors owned just 3.1%.

Myth: New Zealanders are becoming tenants in their own country.
Fact: Of the 28.7 million hectares in New Zealand, only one million is owned by foreigners, while the Department of Conservation alone owns eight million.

Myth: Foreign investment is a one-way street with New Zealand an easy target.
Fact: New Zealand has one of the most restrictive regimes in the world and there has been no obvious upward trend since 2000 relative to GDP. New Zealand investment abroad has dropped slightly from just above 13% relative to GDP in 2002-03 to 12% in 2012. This up markedly in dollar terms since the 1990s.

The report is here.

 

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