July 25 2009 -
Non-English speaking Immigrants boost NZ Trade
Source - One News
It has been suggested by Researchers that New Zealand may be able to boost its trade opportunities by targeting a different sort of immigrant.
A recent study has shown that immigration can have a positive impact on trade - a 10% boost in migrants from a particular country can lift exports to that country by 0.6% and imports from it by 1.9%.
"The trade benefits are greatest when migrants come from developing countries where English language is not dominant," New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) CEO Jean-Pierre de Raad said.
"Their ability to speak languages other than English, navigate legal systems and draw on social and commercial networks in their origin countries are all valuable tools in stimulating trade."
Migrants from non-English cultures also had the greatest impact when it came to stimulating tourism - possibly because they transmit a positive image of New Zealand, and country-specific knowledge of food, language and protocols was particularly important in tourism.
"To capture the benefits, we could think about targeting these migrants more," he said.
De Raad said the current emphasis on skilled migrants with good English was because they would assimilate easily, "but they may not have the same links into fast-growing economies".
The institute's study, Trade, Diaspora and Migration to New Zealand, showed current immigration policy focused on skills shortages overlooked the part that migrants play in linking New Zealand into international markets.
The paper by David Law, Murat Genc and John Bryant said: "Given our relatively poor performance in terms of international linkages, perhaps a revision of the strategic objectives of immigration policy is warranted."
It noted that the impact on trade and investment of the 500,000 New Zealanders living overseas was muted, along with the contribution from British migrants to New Zealand, compared to immigrants from non-English cultures.
The report proposed that selection criteria for non-family immigrants to New Zealand could be broadened to include characteristics useful in international trade, such as foreign language skills or previous experience in an export business.
"Immigration promotion campaigns could be targeted at countries where there is significant export potential combined with significant cultural or institutional barriers to trade," the report said.
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