• Winston Peters
Acting Prime Minister

The Government is adamant that the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) must preserve New Zealand's foreign investment laws whilst providing certainty for overseas traders and investors, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said today.

The Government today released the draft agreement for public comment.

Mr Peters emphasised that the agreement was only a draft and that a lot of negotiation and consultation would take place before any decision was made on signing.

The agreement seeks to ensure that New Zealanders investing abroad, and overseas investors seeking opportunities in New Zealand, are treated equally, except in certain cases specified in reservations to the document.

New Zealand companies have $28 billion invested overseas and some $4.4 billion was invested here by foreigners in 1996 alone.

Mr Peters said a number of reservations would be built in to the MAI to protect the unique characteristics of our country and economy.

"For instance, the MAI will not apply to the New Zealand Overseas Investment Regulations Act.

"This means, for example, that foreign investors who want to buy more than 5 hectares of New Zealand land will still need approval from the Overseas Investment Commission.

"The MAI cannot be invoked to undermine the Treaty of Waitangi provisions," Mr Peters said.

New Zealand will also continue to have full control over fishing quotas and catch entitlements through the Fisheries Act.

``By consultation and if necessary further changes, we will get the best agreement possible for New Zealand. We will not enter into an agreement that is clearly not in New Zealand's national interest, '' said Mr Peters.