6. Singapore carved out of buyers ban

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker says a Singapore carve-out from the foreign buyers ban includes a review clause. Photo: Lynn Grieveson.

The Government has carved Singapore out of its foreign buyers ban, in a move that will ease strained relations between the two countries. Sam Sachdeva reports.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker says the deal includes a review clause if there is a surge in the number of properties being bought as a result.

When Parker announced a workaround last October allowing the Government to implement the ban without breaching the TPP and most other free trade agreements, he acknowledged it would still conflict with the Singapore FTA.

It’s understood Singaporean officials were angered by the decision, with discussions on a workaround dragging on for months.

The Government has now effectively caved, with Parker confirming Singapore had been given a carve-out along with Australia as part of a report back on the bill from select committee.

However, the deal was accompanied by a side letter saying it could be reviewed if there was “a material increase” in the number of homes being bought by Singapore residents.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters appeared to rule out a carve-out for Singapore last December, when asked by National MP Gerry Brownlee whether the country could be treated like Australia.

“The Government's made it very clear that our commitment that we made with respect to overseas ownership concerned every country, with the exception of Australia because of the
CER arrangements that we had. That is a fact and that's what we're working on,” he told Parliament.

Parker said the arrangement with Singapore had been finalised “in the last week or so”.