The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) welcomes Labor’s intervention in the Senate as it seeks to introduce amendments to set the Foreign Investment Review Board’s (FIRB) thresholds at a sensible level, to reduce the risk to the flow of overseas capital into Australia.
AFPA appreciates the Foreign Investment Review Board’s (FIRB) right to assess the national interest in significant foreign purchases of sensitive national assets but this should be balanced with the need to attract new overseas capital into regional agribusiness, such as the forestry and forest products sector.
With more than $3 billion of investment over the past five years, which has secured jobs and provided opportunities for growth, the forestry and forest products sector is a case study of the positive role overseas capital can play in rural Australia.
The United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Norway and Sweden have all made significant capital investments across the entire forestry and forest products value chain. Softwood and hardwood plantations, forest management, sawmills and processing operations, pulp and paper, and woodchip exporters have all welcomed capital from abroad.
AFPA Chief Executive Officer Mr Ross Hampton said, “Overseas buyers have been welcome and added enormously to our ability to upscale our industry and take advantage of strong and growing international demand for forest fibre products. New owners have introduced new management strategies, new technology and led to improved efficiency of operations.”
“Although these operations have overseas owners, they are Australian registered companies, managed and run by Australians. They support jobs in plantation management, harvesting and haulage, with important links to downstream processing, domestic production and exports. They also pay Australian taxes and make a significant contribution to the rural communities in which they operate.”