Canada biggest overseas investor ahead of China

Canada biggest overseas investor ahead of China

A report out today on foreign investment in New Zealand says Canada was the biggest investor between January 2013 and December 2014.

The study, by financial services firm KPMG, says Canada accounted for 22 percent of overseas investment in New Zealand over the two-year period.

China was the second-largest investor, with 14 percent of total investment. The USA accounted for 13 percent and Australia 11 percent.

The survey of foreign direct investment is based on data from the Overseas Investment Office and covers assets like farmland, office buildings and businesses.

Canada ranked number one because its state pension fund bought a portfolio of 18 properties from AMP Capital. The fund also increased its stake in Kaingaroa Forest.

KPMG says almost 60 percent of foreign direct investment comes from North America, Australia and Europe. Asia accounted for 33 percent of total investment.

There has been much discussion of China's investments in New Zealand. But KPMG says its share of investments has not increased substantially from the previous analysis two years ago. The investment is focused primarily on dairy and real estate development.

China and Hong Kong accounted for 49 percent of all investment in agribusiness. The majority of this was from a series of investments in the dairy sector.

KPMG points out that Canada and the United States have made significant investments in forestry, but many of those purchases were given confidential status. This mean they were excluded from the data and therefore it means the report may have understated the level of investment out of North America.

KPMG says: "Foreign direct investment is an area which frequently tests the comfort zone of a country. Fears of a loss of sovereignty, dealing with different cultures, uncertainty as to the actual benefits of investment and the implications for future generations are frequent discussion points in the media and the wider public."

But KPMG says that foreign investment "can be an important contributor to the nation's prosperity. Particularly where it results in investment into new productive assets and the development of export focused business ventures.

"Strong trade relationships and the creation of employment opportunities for the next generation underpin a healthy economy."

The biggest investment sector was power and energy (17 percent), followed by real estate (13 percent) and agriculture (11 percent).

Almost half of all investment in agriculture was in dairy assets. But KPMG expects that this will fall due to the drop in dairy prices.

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