(N.Z’s) Immigration Set To Decrease

Immigration set to decrease

Thursday June 22, 2006
By Adam Bennett

Migration, a significant engine of economic growth, is likely to decline in coming months as fewer immigrants seek to settle in New Zealand and Kiwis continue to head across the Tasman.

Net migration figures released yesterday were relatively stable, with seasonally adjusted permanent and long term (PLT) arrivals exceeding departures by 860 last month compared to 780 net arrivals for the same month last year.

In the year to May there was a net PLT gain of 10,200, up 16 per cent on the 8800 over the May 2005 year.

The most recent peak in PLT arrivals of 42,500 in the year to May 2003 provided a significant economic boost, particularly in the housing sector.

But, despite the stability and small gains evident in yesterday's data, “the risk resides firmly on the downside”, ANZ economists said.

“Offshore residence and work permit approvals have been steadily tracking down since early this year, which should translate to lower PLT arrivals towards the end of this year.

“With Australia, which accounts for almost half of all PLT departures, looking increasingly attractive, the big risk lies in a surge in outflows across the Tasman.”

Yesterday's short-term visitor data revealed 400 fewer arrivals in May than the same month last year, a decline of just under 1 per cent. More Chinese, Australian and Indian visitors largely made up for less from Japan, the US and the UK. The average length of stay was up one day to 18 days.

New Zealand residents' short-term overseas trips were up 1 per cent. ANZ expected the lower dollar, pressure on disposable incomes, and higher airfares to exert pressure on that number in coming months.