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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Xenophobia in NZ - Chinese owned farms?

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According to a NZ Herald article, NZ is displaying the same 'xenophobia' that we have seen in other countries over the years. Noteworthy cases are Japan and Australia. It is apparently the ultimate effrontery to have people or enterprises from another country to buy property in your country. In the 1970s to 1980s Australians were worried about Japanese companies and individuals buying up a lot of properties on the Gold Coast. In Hawaii, Americans were wary of Japanese buying up housing as well, sending prices higher. Apparently it was forcing people out of homes. The 'property boom' collapsed and most of those Japanese were caught out selling their properties at record low prices. It was a coup for Australian and US investors. For NZ, the Chinese have perhaps a better case to make. They will probably end up buying productive dairy assets and selling them as lifestyle blocks to another set of foreigners in 20 years. Good deal? That ultimately depends on the opportunities explored and seized by the NZ investors who sold the land. What will they do with their money? Build more profitable businesses for NZ? We don't know. We might look at the financial literacy of the people concerned. I must say this is a current time of high prices for milk, and Chinese demand is taking off. Is this a time to sell dairy farms? Probably not. So why don't those concerned buy the assets? No money? I guess its just not their time, or maybe they never got the chance.

Anyway, its a nice rationalisation ! The Chinese are prepared to pay 40% above market price for the asset. Maybe they will export any produce as raw material. Is that your concern? That's because it makes sense to process the stuff in China because that is the market, and they have the lowest processing costs in the world.
Fearful of selling off the NZ farm? Seen it all before. Selling off under-performing assets, and NZ farming is not terribly profitable, releases NZ savings to invest in other businesses with greater profit potential. If you are lucky you might get another google, but at least you will be giving another NZ'er a chance to try. So my for freedom, when you can strike down a sellers 'good deal', or disable his ability to try. Farming is the 'old NZ', you need to wake up to yourself and allow people to invest in the new.

There are some reasons for concern. It could see the dairy cows switched to China in future. That is the nature of markets though. NZ ought to be investing in higher value businesses....not 'ancient' farming practices, nor even labour-intensive modern practices. That ship has sailed. We ought to do it as long as it is competitive, then we ought to be either buying farms in China, or building niche technology and web-service businesses.

That is not to say Chinese businesses ought to be allowed to buy 'open slather' in NZ. There ought to be restrictions on the nature of the enterprising. You don't want NZ enterprise to be competing with Chinese state (possibly subsidised) enterprises. If this was the case, then I think some requirements are needed. i.e. The buyer has to dilute Chinese government equity to less than 20% within 2 years. The reality is that such investments are not technologically strategic, and China will greatly improve its farming anyway, so NZ'ers ought not to be prevented from selling out.


'Buying NZ Property – Download the free sample readings!

NZ presents some of the most alluring property in the Western World; particularly given the greater easy of residency, the low cost of property, and the liveability of the country. In addition, there is no capital gains tax, transfer taxes, VAT/GST or wealth taxes in NZ, so rest assured that NZ property is tax-effective! Learn more now!

New Zealand Property Report 2010 - Download the table of contents or buy this 180-page report at our online store for just $US19.95.


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