Sage pirouette removes OIO hurdle

Wednesday 30 Oct 2019

Government gives Japanese-owned forestry company Pan Pac Forest Products free pass to buy NZ land – Green Rush - Land Information Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage has given a foreign-owned forestry company a free pass to buy thousands of hectares of New Zealand land without applying to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

Japanese-owned Pan Pac Forest Products was given the special approval to bypass the OIO to purchase land for forestry for the next three years as the government sought foreign forestry money to help meet its tree planting targets.

The pre-approval was given to Pan Pac despite the Green Party having strongly protested land sales to foreigners and Forestry Minister Shane Jones saying he was sympathetic to rural concerns that converting productive farm land to forestry could cost jobs.

Associate Finance Minister David Clark signed off on Pan Pac's pass, known as a 'standing consent', alongside Ms Sage. The free pass allows Pan Pac to make 25 transactions involving 20,000ha of land and is valid until 2022.

Ministers signed off on the decision on 19 September but kept it under wraps until now. Ms Sage defended the decision, saying Pan Pac had been in New Zealand since the 1970s, was a large exporter of quality timber and needed to secure its wood supply.

"They've got a long standing reputation in New Zealand. They've increased their investment here, they've got a strong workforce. We want to add value to our forestry exports not just have log exports and Pan Pac is a company that can do that."

OIO group manager Vanessa Horne confirmed to RNZ that the deal allowed Pan Pac to buy farm land to convert to forestry.

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