Changes made to Overseas Investment Act to protect New Zealand assets

The Coalition Government is making changes to the Overseas Investment Act to ensure New Zealand assets don't fall into the hands of foreign ownership in the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Associate Minister of Finance David Parker announced the Act will be amended to bring forward a national interest test, as agreed by Cabinet in November of last year.

There will also be a temporary application of the test to any foreign investments which lead to more than a 25 percent ownership interest.

It can be remembered that NZ First Leader Winston Peters previously said that our country shouldn't become "some sort of knock shop for overseas buying" in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

The temporary power will be reviewed every 90 days and remain in place only as long as is necessary to protect the essential interests of New Zealand while the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath continues to wreak havoc. 

Once the temporary measures are removed, a national interest test will remain for business transactions with a minimum threshold of $100 million. This could be higher if set by the terms of an international trade agreement, according to Minister Parker.

"It is a privilege to own or control our sensitive New Zealand assets - particularly now. Like other countries, we must act quickly to protect our essential interests," he added.

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