The Values at Stake in Screening Foreign Investment in New Zealand Land: A Legislative History in Three Acts
Posted: 2 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 30, 2015
The Overseas Investment Act 2005 regulates the entry of foreign investment into New Zealand by screening investment proposals that fall within the Act’s definitions of “significant business assets” and “sensitive land”. Calls for reform or repeal of the Act which are aimed at facilitating foreign investment into New Zealand (rather than limiting it) tend to be based on economic rationales. The risk of reform driven exclusively by economic rationales is that non-economic interests and values could be undermined. By the same token, if the regulatory objectives are not purely economic in nature, but encompass core national values, then overseas experience suggests that the Act will be highly resistant to pressure to liberalize. The issue then is that as part of any review, the relevant values need to be identified and addressed. Recent literature tends to either assume the existence of non-economic issues arising from foreign ownership in land, or questions their existence, but in both cases without investigating further. A close analysis of the legislative history and public consultation on the legislation demonstrates that the protection of cultural and heritage values is and has always been an important objective of screening foreign investment, and that specific policy objectives include the recognition of the importance of rural land to national identity.
Keywords: foreign investment screening, New Zealand
JEL Classification: A13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation