Wednesday, April 27, 2011

[pima.nius] Gisborne Herald editorial: CAFCA should also campaign for stronger capital markets in NZ

2:48 PM |


Via Pacific Media Centre

27 April, 2011

OPINION: The Gisborne Herald has attacked Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) spokesman Murray Horton in an editorial over his scathing analysis of New Zealand's free trade and foreign investment policies in a national speaking tour that kicked off at the Pacific Media Centre.

Several readers have responded with spirited letters.

Gisborne Herald editorial:
CAFCA should also campaign for stronger capital markets in NZ
14 April 2011


Jeremy Muir

The anti-American, anti-business rant by Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesman Murray Horton here this week did not once touch on the reason this country's assets are so vulnerable to takeover — our lack of domestic capital.

In CAFCA's utopia of fortress New Zealand, asset prices would plunge along with productivity and we would all be much poorer.

To be at all credible, Horton's organisation should also campaign for policies to strengthen our puny capital markets — to spur domestic capability to invest in assets and innovation.

Foreign direct investment in this country totals about $92 billion, compared to the $57 billion value of all companies listed on the New Zealand sharemarket.

The scary figure here is the second, not the first.

Foreign funding has been integral to the growth of our economy. The main issue is always what we do with this money — if we can generate a greater return on it then we are better off.

New Zealanders also buy into foreign companies and land, and need to reciprocate to expect these opportunities. There are no-go areas for foreign investors, and the key thing is having clear rules around what we consider to be strategic land or assets.

Horton singled out the demon of a potential free-trade deal with the United States, spinning a series of conspiracy theories as facts.

He is right that there is a risk of an uneven agreement but our trade negotiaters are among the best in the world. They will make sure the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is good for New Zealand, or they won't sign it.

CAFCA ignores the huge benefits of trade liberalisation.

The real utopia would be success in the Doha round of world trade talks.

Heading into the supposed final stage of negotiations, there is renewed pessimism. As the US and EU call for China, India and Brazil to open their markets to more foreign goods and services, they need to reciprocate by cutting farm subsidies and tariffs.

Part of the crowd at Horton's PMC seminar in Auckland. Photo: PMC
Part of the crowd at Horton's PMC seminar in Auckland. Photo: PMC
Letters in reply to the Gisbone Herald:

Attacking the messenger and fair trade, 23 April 2011

Dear editor,

The personal attack on CAFCA spokesman, Murray Horton, cannot go unchallenged.

Mr Horton does not "rant" - he debates and analyses issues from an informed perspective.

It is a tired and lazy habit to attack the messenger instead of the message.

The purpose of CAFCA is to protect NZ assets against foreign domination, not to prevent fair trade.

It is largely due to the wholesale plundering of NZ assets over the years, which has been permitted by governments of both hues, that we are as poor as we are now.

It is the responsibility of those who are elected to govern this country (not CAFCA) to encourage productivity and healthy investment, through wise taxation (eg a financial transaction tax to discourage speculation and to promote innovation through funded R & D, among other things).

There often seems to confusion between the concepts of ownership and investment. Ownership denotes control, whereas investment has an element of risk to the investor that accompanies support for a project.

The only point I agree with is the description of "scary" ie the totally inadequate value of the NZ Sharemerket, which has no depth in terms of the variety of companies, no NZ-based manufacturing for instance.

As a long term investor in NZ securities I have watched despairingly as good companies have been sold offshore, only to be milked of profits and assets, then discarded.

The government is now proposing to do the same with such assets as we still have.

As far as the proposed "free trade" agreement with the USA is concerned, this is just the 1980's MAI under a different name. It has little to do with trade and a lot to do with exploiting our service industries such as public health and education.

The new agreement is not discussed publicly, but negotiated behind closed doors - now this is really scary.

I remind the author of NZ's earlier foreign funding effoprts, in the 1860's, when we "borrowed" 2 million pounds to fight the land wars - and eventually repaid a total of 64 m pounds in 1954.

The catch cry in those days was that NZ suffered from "colonial cringe", but it was in fact a "debtors dilemma", and created a subservience to the lender.

We have been borrowing and living beyond our means again recently, hence the financial disaster we now find ourselves in.

Subservience to any country or thing is not desirable, be it an international corporate, or Britain, the USA or China.

We must retain control of our own destiny.

Gillian Preece
Gisborne

TPPA has significant fish hooks, 23 April 2011

Dear editor,

I think it wrong to be so dismissive of Murray Horton's expose of issues around foreign ownership and influence in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Gisborne Herald stated, "There are no-go areas for foreign investors, and the key thing is having clear rules around what we consider to be strategic land or assets," but failed to say what those might be or when the clear rules would be spelt out as we sail merrily towards the TPPA.

The TPPA has significant fish hooks if one has viewed the wikileaks material on the USA Embassy communications or has a common understanding of what the USA has extracted in similar deals.

If we want genetic engineering to be common place in NZ agriculture and forestry, if we want our primary producers to be peasants in our own land, if we want to lose sovereignty over our IP, food supply, health care and service choices, then fine, ignore Horton and CAFCA and embrace another free trade deal that reduces local ownership, NZ manufacturing and employment.

Oh, and it makes it all the easier for the oil and mineral explorers and extractors to come and harm our environment with little liability.

Steffan Browning

Free trade 'riddled with hypocrisy'

Dear editor,

Your editorial criticising CAFCA and its stand against foreign control was misplaced. It seems that anyone who expresses concern at foreign ownership is labelled as xenophobic.

I instead would call them patriotic.

The point is that New Zealand is one of the very few countries that have an open door policy in welcoming foreign ownership, be it called investment. Try going to most other countries as a foreigner to buy land.

As for free trade deals, New Zealand shows a naivety bordering on stupidity. Remember the much vaunted APEC conference of several years or more ago, when US president Bill Clinton was proclaiming the virtue of free trade agreements while signing in the US a Farm Bill designed to increase subsidies to farmers?

Free trade is riddled with hypocrisy.

Tony Orman
Marlborough


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aotearoa, new zealand
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