Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Kiwis sour on foreign investment

Survey shows few New Zealanders see the benefits of overseas investors.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government would continue spending significant sums. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Prime Minister John Key said the Government would continue spending significant sums. Photo / Brett Phibbs

New Zealanders are showing a rising resistance to overseas investors, a business survey has found.

Engineering design firm Aecom's survey of 200 people in the public and private sectors found evidence of a lack of knowledge of foreign investment benefits.

"Respondents were concerned about a tendency towards parochialism. One explained that a perception problem may be obscuring an understanding of where the benefits of investment were flowing.

"A significant portion of respondents believe the level of openness is receding, although conversely more also see the market becoming more attractive to foreign investors and suppliers."

Aecom's survey also found building and infrastructure industry executives increasingly optimistic, seeing new opportunities and challenges in the infrastructure and building markets.

The outlook is also more promising this year with improvements in workload expectations even in areas outside Canterbury, Aecom said.

"Canterbury and the upper North Island are expected to receive the lion's share of investment," it said.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government would continue spending significant sums.

"On current forecasts, $12 billion will be invested over the next 10 years in new state highways and, in particular, in the Government's Roads of National Significance. This year will see construction begin on the Sawyers to Harewood section of the Christchurch Western Corridor, the Rangiriri and Tamahere-Cambridge sections of the Waikato Expressway, the MacKays to Peka Peka section of the Wellington Northern Corridor, subject to the granting of regulatory consents, and the Buckle St underpass in Wellington," Key said.

The first major public-private partnership undertaken will open this year, with the first group of students attending the new Hobsonville Point Primary School in Auckland.

Construction will also continue this year on the new Hobsonville secondary school and on the new prison at Wiri, both of which are being undertaken as a public-private partnership, Key said.

This year, the Government will progress the procurement of Transmission Gully through a public-private partnership and the Government's ultra-fast broadband and rural broadband is being installed.

By the middle of this year, around 300,000 businesses and homes will be able to connect to ultra-fast broadband, and around 1300 schools and 30 hospitals will have fibre to the gate. In addition, almost 100,000 rural homes and businesses are expected to have access to faster broadband.

Aecom found rising confidence in Auckland house building after Quotable Value found a 7.2 per cent price increase in the past year.

"This momentum is reflected in the Statistics New Zealand new residential building consents, which are up 31 per cent in the year to November 2012 compared to the corresponding period in 2011," Aecom said.

Foreign investment

Top barriers
* Resistance to foreign ownership
* Foreign exchange volatility
* Lack of local market knowledge
* Willingness to look at new contracting methods
* Strong local competition

Top drivers
* Size of transport projects
* Less spending in Australia
* Political, economic stability
* Ease of dealing with authorities
* Earthquake recovery opportunities

[Source: Aecom infrastructure and building construction survey]

- NZ Herald

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