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Monday, April 23

Key Govt's China Strategy behind Crafar deal

The New Zealand Government has signed off once again on the Crafar farms deal after intense pressure from the Chinese Government, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today. Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin's bid to buy 16 central North Island dairy farms has been approved by Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman.

 "This deal advances the Key Government's China Strategy but is not in New Zealand's long term interests," said Dr Norman.

 "To help push the deal through a state owned enterprise Landcorp has even been co-opted into running the farms on behalf of their new owners. "The Overseas Investment Office points out in its decision summary that allowing this deal advances the Key Government's policy aims of securing future Chinese investment. Chinese Government officials have warned that turning down the bid would jeopardise future foreign investment in New Zealand.

 "However, allowing the large scale purchase of our productive farm land by overseas buyers, is not in New Zealand's long term strategic economic interest," said Dr Norman. "Food producing farmland with access to water is an increasingly valuable resource in a finite world with growing population and declining water resources.

 "Realising this, the Chinese Government has embarked upon a strategy encouraging Chinese Companies to purchase farmland throughout the world. "Today's decision was made to appease the Chinese Government who have been using their embassy and high level visits to lobby for more Chinese investment in New Zealand. 

"This decision also makes it hard for future large scale investments in New Zealand farmland by Chinese companies to be refused by the Overseas Investment Office."