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Non-English speaking migrants best for trade

Non-English speaking migrants best for trade growth - NZIER

June 30 - New Zealand's immigration policy should target more non-English speaking migrants because of their value in opening up new markets and tourism, according to a research report by the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research, released today.

The "Trade, Diaspora and Migration to New Zealand" report sifts migration and export industry data to show a direct correlation between increased migration from a country leading to greater trade with that country.

"On average, if New Zealand receives 10% more migrants from a particular country, exports to that country grow by 0.6% and imports from it by 1.9%.

"The benefits are greatest when migrants come from developing countries where English language is not dominant," NZIER's chief economist, Jean-Pierre de Raad said. "Their ability to speak languages other than English, navigate legal systems and draw on social and commercial networks in their origin countries are all valuable tools in stimulating trade."

If immigration policy concentrated more on increasing trade, as opposed to the current heavy focus on English-speaking migrants to address local skills shortages, it should look more to such non-English speaking sources of migrants.

"Given our relatively poor performance in terms of international linkages, perhaps a revision of the strategic objectives of immigration policy is warranted," the Institute said.


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