China’s in­vestors might think again

Deal would help both coun­tries

South Waikato News - - RURAL NEWS -

FOR­EIGN in­vestors may re­think their in­ter­est in New Zealand if a po­ten­tial Chi­nese buyer of the Cra­far farms is turned down, a Chi­nese of­fi­cial says.

The Over­seas In­vest­ment Of­fice (OIO) is re­con­sid­er­ing a $210 mil­lion of­fer by Shang­hai Pengxin af­ter the High Court over-ruled the orig­i­nal decision to ac­cept the bid.

A group of New Zealand farm­ers and iwi, led by Sir Michael Fay, sought a ju­di­cial re­view of the OIO’S rec­om­men­da­tion to al­low the sale of the 16 farms, and the Gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for that rec­om­men­da­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter John Key said the Gov­ern­ment would not ap­peal the High Court decision and the OIO was tak­ing its time to re­con­sider Shang­hai Pengxin’s of­fer.

The Chi­nese Em­bassy spokesman, po­lit­i­cal coun­sel­lor Cheng Lei, said the Cra­far farms sale was a purely com­mer­cial deal and did not in­volve the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment or Em­bassy.

No of­fi­cials had dis­cussed the deal with any New Zealand of­fi­cials, he said.

How­ever, they were closely fol­low­ing the deal, like many New Zealan­ders.

‘‘Ba­si­cally, it is in the in­ter­ests of both our coun­tries and peo­ples.’’

In Par­lia­ment, Land In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Mau­rice Wil­liamson con­firmed the OIO had met of­fi­cials from the Chi­nese Em­bassy to dis­cuss the rules on for­eign in­vest­ment.

Mr Cheng said the Chi­nese Em­bassy un­der­stood the sen­si­tiv­ity of the Cra­far farms deal.

‘‘I know there are some peo­ple in your coun­try who are very sen­si­tive to sim­ply the term ‘China’.’’

Per­haps they could not ac­cept the changes in China and the fast-grow­ing and pros­per­ous econ­omy, he said.

How­ever, he did not be­lieve that was a fac­tor in the Cra­far decision.

In his per­sonal opin­ion, de­clin­ing the Shang­hai Pengxin bid meant other po­ten­tial Chi­nese in­vestors might make a ‘‘sec­ond con­sid­er­a­tion’’.

In­vestors from Australia, the United States, Bri­tain and mem­bers of the Euro­pean Union may have the same reser­va­tions, he said. ‘‘I think they will take a very cau­tious stance as for the fu­ture in­vest­ment in your coun­try, but that’s my own view­point.’’

The New Zealand and Chi­nese economies were ‘‘highly com­ple­men­tary’’ and both sides should be do­ing what they could to pro­mote in­vest­ment, Mr Cheng said.

‘‘Both the Chi­nese and New Zealand gov­ern­ments and rel­e­vant agen­cies have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to ren­der favourable con­di­tions for our two-way eco­nomic and in­vest­ment co-op­er­a­tion.’’

He would not com­ment on the Green and Labour poli­cies to tighten up for­eign in­vest­ment, but said he be­lieved New Zealand would make the right decision to best suit the public need ‘‘in the long run’’.

‘‘China re­gards New Zealand as a friend and a close part­ner in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion.’’

The Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment now had a ‘‘go-global’’ strat­egy to pro­mote Chi­nese in­vest­ment abroad.

And the Chi­nese mar­ket was open to all for­eign in­vest­ment, as long as com­pa­nies ad­hered to Chi­nese laws. ‘‘We have 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple and I don’t think Fon­terra can feed ev­ery per­son.

‘‘There is still huge po­ten­tial for Kiwi en­ter­prises to seek op­por­tu­ni­ties in China.’’

Mr Cheng’s com­ments on Cra­far farms were part of a brief­ing which in­cluded read­ing trans­lated ex­cerpts of re­cent press con­fer­ences with Chi­nese Premier Wen Ji­abao and For­eign Min­is­ter Yang Jiechi. Sim­i­lar brief­ings were held in Chi­nese em­bassies around the world.

Top­ics in­cluded Chi­nese op­po­si­tion to uni-lat­eral sanc­tions against Iran, mu­tual re­spon­si­bil­ity in the Sino/us re­la­tion­ship and the need for, and progress of, po­lit­i­cal re­form in China.

Fair­fax NZ

PURE DEAL: Chi­nese Em­bassy spokesper­son Cheng Lei said the Cra­far Farms sale was a purely com­mer­cial deal.

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