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Economic ignorance on display again by Winston Peters

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Economic ignorance on display again by Winston Peters

Jenny Shipley, a former prime minister of New Zealand, has accepted a position on the board of CCB New Zealand, a wholly owned subsidiary of the China Construction Bank.

According to Winston Peters, this is “economic treachery”. He thinks Ms Shipley should not be “allowing us to be used in this way” – by which I presume he means that she should not be helping a foreign bank operate in New Zealand.

About 1 in 6 New Zealanders work for a foreign owned company. I wonder if Mr Peters thinks they are all treacherous. Or is it only ex-politicians who work for Chinese companies who are treacherous? Mr Peters’ constant hyperbole is becoming boring.

So are his incessant displays of economic ignorance.

The idea that foreign firms harm us by offering their goods and services here is nonsense. No one will be forced to work at CCB New Zealand. No one will be forced to rent their office space to CCB. No one will be forced to borrow from CCB. Anyone who decides to do such things must consider CCB better than his alternative employers, tenants or lenders. CCB must be making him better off. No one is being “used” as Mr Peters puts it.

The only bank in New Zealand that “uses” people is Kiwibank. Unlike the other banks in New Zealand, Kiwibank’s capital was not contributed by voluntary investors. It was extracted from taxpayers with no choice in the matter. Bailouts of financial and other companies also “use” people.

But companies who enter the New Zealand market without any taxpayer funding or government guarantees are taking all the risk. They invest in New Zealand because they see a country rich in promise. They bring their capital, skills and entrepreneurial acumen. We should welcome them. And Winston Peters should stop peddling his ugly and ignorant economic nationalism.

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