22 June 2009

Permanent migrants to New Zealand boosts economy

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Immigration to New Zealand is at a two-year high, according to a new report released today, stoking consumer spending and housing demand and helping the economy recover from a recession.

New Zealand has also benefited from short-term visitors from Australia, as the country targets more local travel across the Tasman, the Bloomberg reported.

The number of permanent migrants to New Zealand exceeded departures by 11,202 in the year through May, Statistics New Zealand said in a report released today in Wellington. That’s more than 9,176 in the 12 months ended April and is the highest annual tally since April 2007.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said earlier this month the economy may resume growing in the fourth quarter. Rising immigration may provide a boost to domestic demand and the property market, he said in his quarterly monetary policy statement on June 11.

“The gain in migration represents a tangible positive ingredient for underlying housing demand,” said Robin Clements, chief economist at UBS AG in Christchurch. “The drag that housing has placed on GDP growth is set to fade.”

Lower mortgage interest rates helped drive a 44 percent increase in house sales in May from a year earlier, the Real Estate Institute said. Home-building approvals rose for the second time in three months in April.

A net 2,690 migrants arrived in May, seasonally adjusted figures showed. That’s the highest monthly reading since July 2003 and comes as fewer New Zealand residents shift overseas.

Short-term visitor arrivals rose 0.2 percent last month from April, seasonally adjusted, the report also showed. The second straight monthly gain in overseas visitors will stoke the tourism industry, which makes up about 10 percent of the economy.

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