Government announces reform of overseas investment rules to protect 'national interests'

The Government has announced further reform of overseas investment rules to protect New Zealand's "core national interests".

A national interest test will be added to the sale of assets such as ports, airports, electricity networks and other critical infrastructure.

"We are introducing a number of new powers, consistent with global best practice, to protect New Zealanders' best interests in such important - often monopoly - assets," says Associate Finance Minister David Parker.

The test means the Government can consider the risk of the transactions to New Zealand's national interest when deciding whether or not to grant consent.

A "call-in" power will apply to the sale of our most strategically important assets, such as firms developing military technology and direct suppliers to New Zealand's defence and security agencies.

"The power would only be used to control those investments that pose a significant risk to our national security or public order," Parker says.

"These tests could also be used to control investments in significant media entities where these are likely to damage our security or democracy."

Parker says these powers will be "used rarely" and only where necessary for protecting New Zealand.

The reforms will apply to all overseas investors, regardless of where they come from.

A Bill implementing the changes will be introduced early next year.