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New Zealand Economic and Financial Overview 2016

Foreign Investment Policy

New Zealand has an open and welcoming attitude towards foreign investment and recognises the positive contribution that it can make to the economic and social wellbeing of New Zealanders. New Zealand's regulations governing foreign investment are liberal by international standards and New Zealand maintains specific foreign investment restrictions in only a few areas of critical interest.

Overseas investments in New Zealand assets are only screened if they are defined as sensitive within the Overseas Investment Act 2005. Three broad classes of asset are currently defined as sensitive within the Act: acquisition of a 25% or more ownership interest in business assets valued at over $100 million; all fishing quota investments; and investment in sensitive land as defined in Schedule One of the Act. Examples of sensitive land include rural land over five hectares or land bordering or containing foreshore, seabed, river or the bed of a lake. Most urban land is not screened unless defined as sensitive for other reasons. A full list of sensitive assets is defined in the Act.

In order to invest in significant business assets, investors must pass an investor test that considers character, business acumen and level of financial commitment. In addition, overseas investors wishing to purchase sensitive land must either intend to reside permanently in New Zealand or demonstrate that the investment will benefit New Zealand. The criteria for assessing this benefit are set out in the Overseas Investment Act and Regulations 2005. Investments in fishing quota must be shown to be in the national interest, as defined in the Act.

The Overseas Investment Act is administered by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), a dedicated unit located within Land Information New Zealand. More information on New Zealand's foreign investment screening regime is available on http://www.linz.govt.nz/overseas-investment

There are no restrictions on the movement of funds in or out of New Zealand, or on repatriation of profits. No additional performance measures are imposed on foreign-owned enterprises.

Foreign Investment Inflows

Foreign investment flows vary from year to year as they reflect changes in a small number of relatively large individual investments.

The stock of foreign direct investment in New Zealand stood at $100.6 billion as of 30 June 2015. Australia and the US are the largest contributors to total foreign direct investment in New Zealand, with investments worth $52.2 billion and $8.2 billion respectively. The United Kingdom is the third largest investor with a total of $5.0 billion, while Singapore, Japan and the Netherlands follow closely behind at $5.8 billion, $4.8 billion and $3.5 billion respectively.

In contrast, the stock of direct investment abroad by New Zealand was $24.4 billion as at 30 June 2015, with over half consisting of investments in Australia ($12.4 billion).

Table 16 - Foreign Investment Inflows[1],[2]
Year ended 31 March
(dollar amounts in millions)
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Foreign Direct Investment 1,328 1,485 4,024 466 4,002
Foreign Portfolio Investment 10,578 3,918 12,448 2,139 13,254

Source: Statistics New Zealand

  • [1]Financial account completed according to principles set out by the IMF in 6th edition of the Balance of Payments Manual.
  • [2]Prior years' data revised.
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