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New Zealand Missing Out on Billions of Dollars

New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment

for Release: 26 July 2006

New Zealand Missing Out on Billions of Dollars

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Our economy is missing out on billions of dollars of capital as a result of the wrong policy mix for investor migrants, according to the immigration agents’ umbrella body.

The New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment (NZAMI) is to hold its annual conference in Auckland this coming Friday (details below), in what its Chairman, Marcus Beveridge, calls “a positive atmosphere engendered by increasingly sensible government policies”.

An exception to this rule, Mr Beveridge says, is the ‘Investor Category’, introduced last year. He describes investor policy as a total failure when it comes to attracting funding to New Zealand and recommends a complete overhaul to compete with the lure of Australia.

“We’re delighted that a number of ideas advocated by NZAMI have now become government policy and are helping produce positive outcomes both for migrants themselves and for our economy,” says Mr Beveridge.

“In particular, we applaud the decision to recognise work experience from ‘non-comparable labour markets’ in cases where migrants possess skills that are in global short supply. Whether we’re talking about IT specialists or plumbers, New Zealand needs these migrants’ expertise and it shouldn’t matter whether they come from high-wage First World countries or from emerging economies such as China and India.

“We’re also pleased that foreign graduates from New Zealand tertiary institutions are now receiving open work permits to help them find offers of skilled employment. Those who have worked hard for their qualifications and spent considerable sums of money here whilst studying, have surely earned this right. Moreover, it makes no sense for us to lose out on skills acquired or augmented here,” he says.

“Unfortunately, these positive moves in the field of skills migration also serve to point up the abject failure of Investor Policy.

“Only 39 investor migration applications were lodged in the first six months of 2006, compared to 1,008 in 2001 and 1,087 in 2002. Furthermore, while business migration policies produced in excess of $1.2 billion in investment funds in 2001 and more than $1.5 billion in 2002, they have produced less than $40 million in the year to date. This is not even one percent of the levels we were experiencing at the start of the decade. Obviously, something has gone very wrong.

“We need to ask ourselves why any serious investor migrant would bother applying for New Zealand residence when it’s normally so much easier to gain residence in Australia. For example, our regulations require a very high level of English language skills while the Australian requirement is much lower and can sometimes be waived entirely.

“As expected, our stringent language rules have stopped the once steady flow of business migrants from North East Asia. However, there has not been any perceptible increase in applications from the United States, the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

“It’s also noteworthy that Australian immigration authorities require just over one third of the capital investment demanded of investor migrants in New Zealand. They offer permanent residence in 40 percent of the time it takes here and offer citizenship in a shorter period of time. Add to this the greater economic opportunities in Australia and it’s easy to see why we’re missing out.

“We really have to do better, if immigration and investment are to contribute to our economic growth, in the same way that they are contributing to growth elsewhere in the developed world,” Mr Beveridge adds.

This week’s conference will be the first NZAMI gathering to be attended by the Hon. David Cunliffe since becoming Minister of Immigration. Marcus Beveridge says that he expects the Minister to take on board the Association’s views concerning the Investor Category.

“We believe that government pays some attention to our views, recognising that reputable immigration agents possess a wealth of knowledge and experience concerning the human and business realities of migration.

“Along with Mr Cunliffe, we will also be welcoming the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Don Brash, to our list of speakers. The presence of representatives of both major parties should serve to emphasise that, whichever party is in power, immigration remains a vital factor in our life as a nation,” says Mr Beveridge.

The NZAMI represents approximately 170 members throughout New Zealand, including immigration and investment consultants, accountants, lawyers, banks, business specialists and financial advisers.

ENDS

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