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Politics

New Zealand bans foreigners buying homes as prices surge

Prime minister fulfills campaign pledge that held back TPP approval

SYDNEY -- New Zealand's parliament voted on Wednesday to outlaw foreigners' purchases of existing homes, spurred by concern that investors from China and elsewhere are making housing unaffordable for ordinary citizens.

“This is a significant milestone and demonstrates this government’s commitment to making the dream of home ownership a reality for more New Zealanders,” Associate Finance Minister David Parker said. 

The ban applies only to nonresident foreigners, and Australians and Singaporeans are exempt.

The new law, which is expected to take effect within a few weeks, also clears a political hurdle to New Zealand ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment agreement. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who took office last October after campaigning in favor of a ban, initially sought to renegotiate the TPP to address this concern. 

But dairy farmers and other major export industries pushed for swift ratification of the so-called TPP 11 -- the group that remains after the U.S. pulled out of the agreement.

Parker, who doubles as trade minister, said New Zealand's ratification of the TPP 11 should be complete by the end of this year.

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