New Zealand Law Society - Americans and Canadians biggest foreign investors in NZ

Americans and Canadians biggest foreign investors in NZ

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An analysis of trends in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in New Zealand from 2013 to 2015 by accounting firm KPMG shows that the United States and Canada were our most significant source of FDI over the period.

The report, Foreign Direct Investment in New Zealand, is based on Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approvals over the last three years.

Measured by gross consideration data provided by the OIO, the US and Canada were followed closely by Australia, China and SIngapore.

KPMG notes that the introduction of new regulations means that certain Australian investors are no longer required to make an OIO application where the consideration is less than $496 million and the investment does not include any sensitive land or fishing quota. It says this is likely to have reduced the level of observed Australian investment relative to previous reports.

It also says Singapore accounted for 20% of FDI in 2015, measured by gross consideration, making it the largest source of FDI in 2015, the last year of the report coverage.

Origin of Investment in New Zealand, 2013 to 2015 - Gross consideration

Country Proportion
United States 17%
Canada 15%
Australia 12%
Europe 11%
China 9%
Singapore 8%
Hong Kong 6%
Japan 4%
Other Asia 4%
United Kingdom 3%
Others 11%

The report says the United States was the largest acquirer of land for the 2013 to 2015 period, with 40%, followed by China (13%), Hong Kong (8%), Japan (7%) and the United Kingdom (5%) . Forestry transactions were the most significant driver behind this. Canterbury (19%), Otago (18%) and Southland (12%) accounted for 49% of freehold land transactions consented to under the Overseas Investment Act 2005, followed by Hawke's Bay (11%) and Northland (10%).

KPMG says investment in New Zealand continues to be broad-based across a range of sectors.

"However, when evaluated on a country-by-country basis, Asian countries have generally had a narrower investment focus on dairy, food and the waste management sectors," it says.  

"By contrast, the traditional investment markets of the United States and Australia have a much broader base of investment, perhaps reflecting the maturity of their economies and their investment networks."