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Foreign Control - Key facts

Foreign Control - Key facts

Foreign direct investment (ownership of companies) in New Zealand increased from $9.7 billion in 1989 to $78.4 billion at September 2005 - 700% more.

Foreign owners now control 44% of the share market. In 1989, the figure was 19%.

In 2004, the Overseas Investment Commission (OIC) approved foreign investment totalling $6.8 billion, which was below the average of $8.6 billion for the previous decade. Only company takeovers involving $50 million or more need OIC approval, except those involving land or fishing quotas. Until 1999, the threshold was $10m. In 2005 the Government increased it to $100m.

In 2004, the OIC approved the sale of 198,874 hectares of rural land to foreigners, though most of that was from one foreign investor to another. Foreign owned land covers more than one million hectares or about 7% of our commercially productive land area.

Statistics NZ figures, as of March 2005, list the biggest foreign owners of New Zealand companies as, in order: Australia, US, Netherlands, UK, Japan, Germany, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, and Switzerland. Bermuda also ranks somewhere among these but its total is suppressed for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Transnational corporations (TNCs) make massive profits out of New Zealand. These can truly be called New Zealand's biggest invisible export. In the decade 1996 - 2005, TNCs made $48.1 billion profits. Only 30% was reinvested, and in some years more was sent overseas than was earned.

The great majority of foreign "investment" is a takeover, not creating new assets.

Foreign investors are not great for employment - they only employ 18% of the workforce, despite owning a huge proportion of the economy. Foreign ownership does not guarantee more jobs. In fact, it quite often adds to unemployment. TNCs have made tens of thousands jobless.

Foreign ownership does nothing to improve New Zealand's foreign debt problem. In 1984, total private and public foreign debt stood at $16 billion. As of September 2005, it was $160 billion, more than 100% of NZ's Gross Domestic Product, despite all of the asset sales and takeovers.

Ownership means political power. Foreign control means recolonisation, but by company this time, not country.

Nearly everything that has been done to New Zealanders in the past decade has been done to "make the New Zealand economy attractive to foreign investment". This is what it all means to ordinary New Zealanders - we are involuntary competitors in the race to the bottom.


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