17 Sep 2002

Changes to be made for foreign investment in the Cook Islands but changes to coming

5:31 pm on 17 September 2002

The Cook Islands Development Investment Board says it's not closing the door on foreign investors but it is reviewing the minimum levels at which they'll be allowed into the country.

A director of the DIB, Nick Henry, says they'll be raising the bar for foreign investors in certain reserved areas like tourism.

He says Cook Islanders have traditionally been involved in backpackers accommodation but they are now at a stage where they can fund more expensive projects themselves.

Mr Henry says this was one of the reasons behind a decision to turn down a foreign proposal for Aitutaki.

"It was to be 100 percent foreign owned, and at this point in time, it was felt that it was an inappropriate project, basically the market is well catered for, and the net REAL economic benefit was not very large at all to Aitutakeans if anything."

Mr Henry says the decision has the support of the majority of people on Aitutaki.

He says the board's new draft code should be ready by the end of September and will then be put in front of the government for endorsement.

Mr Henry also says the board has no intention of preventing existing businesses from being sold to foreign investors.