Golen Gol project begins electricity generation
The Golen Gol hydropower project started electricity generation on Wednesday, marking another landmark as Pakistan aggressively adds power to the national grid to eliminate load-shedding.
Due to the project, Chitral has now started receiving much-needed electricity on a trial basis, which is a significant step towards providing a stable supply of electricity to the city and adjacent areas.
The prime minister will formally inaugurate the project during the first week of February. Only the first unit of 36MW was put into operation on Wednesday, which would provide electricity three times more than the needs of Chitral city. The surplus energy will be added to the national grid.
During his visit to the project site, Wapda Chairman Muzammil Hussain congratulated the project authorities and expressed hope that the power project will usher in a new era of progress and prosperity. The chairman was of the view that it will stabilise the economy by providing low-cost and environment-friendly electricity to the national grid.
The project has been constructed on Golen Gol – a tributary of River Mastuj – near Chitral. The installed generation capacity of the project is 108MW with three generating units – each of them with a capacity of 36MW.
The first unit has been completed, while the second and the third unit will be commissioned in March and May 2018, respectively. The project will provide 436 million units of electricity to the national grid every year. Benefits of the project have been estimated at Rs3.7 billion per annum.
Gwadar to hold first worldwide exhibition
The Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) and China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) are jointly organising the first international exhibition in Gwadar Free Zone on January 29 and 30, 2018. The Gwadar Free Zone (phase-1) will also be inaugurated on the occasion. Over 200 companies across various industrial sectors from both Pakistan and China will be participating in the event. COPHC Chairman Zhang Baozhong said in a video message that both entities are initiating a series of events starting off with the ‘Gwadar Expo 2018’. He added more than 3,000 exhibitors and over 10,000 visitors had applied for participation, but due to logistics issues only 200 exhibitors and 5,000 visitors were allowed. This event will boost economic cooperation not only between Pakistan and China but also with Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East, he added.
Pakistan pavilion makes debut
In a positive message to the global community, the ‘Pakistan Pavilion’ made its debut on the snow-covered Promenade strip of Davos, a move meant to project a soft image of the country among the wealthy business elites of the world.
Pakistan has been a subject of negative news for several reasons, and also suffers due to terrorism-related incidents, often leading to inadequate promotion at key global events. Unlike the past, however, this year Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi participated in a session at the 48 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
But this event was limited to only a formal gathering.
A lot more continues to happen on the sidelines of the WEF, almost all of it at the expensive Promenade strip of Davos, which is adjacent to the Congress Centre where all formal activities take place.
The Pakistan Pavilion that has been set up at the Panorama Hotel is in the middle of the India Adda and Google House. Besides Indian Adda, there is also a ‘India Invest’ forum by the confederation of Indian industries.
The Pakistan Pavilion is almost in front of the five-star Steignberger Grandhotel Belverde where this year the University of Chicago was holding a reception with Microsoft CEO and alumnus Satya Nadella.
Pakistan Pavilion made the debut on the strip with Ukraine House. The private sector would try to present the country’s perspective with limited available resources.
The strip is also a temporary house to Zurich Insurance, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank that take over prime space on Promenade to project themselves.
The Pakistan Pavilion is set up with financial assistance of Pakistan’s PathFinder Group and Martin Dow Group in association with the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce.
“Pakistan should be projected somehow and pavilion is an experiment in that direction,” said Ikram Sehgal, chairman of Pathfinder Group. Nationals from various countries and heads of some companies are coming to see what Pakistan offers to the world, he added.
People from various walks of life have been invited from Pakistan to present their points of view at the prime gathering of global elites, said Sehgal.
Khawar Rafiq, chief executive officer at Rafiq Engineering Industries, said ignoring Davos gathering is not an option. He said that the Pakistan Pavilion is the first step to making the country’s presence felt.
PBC expects $3.3bn rise in Pakistan’s exports to China
The Pakistan Business Council (PBC) has projected that Pakistan could export an additional $3.3 billion worth of goods to China if the country manages to get tariffs reduced to zero on certain goods under a free trade agreement (FTA).
In this regard, the PBC – a business policy advocacy group – has shared a list of top 25 products with the Ministry of Commerce, suggesting the government needs to secure zero tariff on these goods in negotiations with China on the second phase of the FTA.
The assessment of export potential does not take into account freight costs, marketing channels in the export market and consumer preferences among others.
According to the PBC, Pakistan can increase exports of rice, textiles, seafood, footwear and leather products to China.The commerce ministry had sought PBC’s input before the next round of FTA talks as Pakistan was trying to win greater market access to China in an effort to reduce its growing trade imbalance with its giant neighbour.
Pakistan and China had signed the FTA in 2006. They have been negotiating the agreement’s second phase for some time in order to create a right trade balance that is heavily in favour of China.
Pakistan’s trade deficit with China stands at $12 billion with the gap expected to widen because of the import of machinery for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
Pakistan’s private sector has long been raising voice against the ever-increasing trade with China. Since the launch of CPEC in April 2015, such concerns have heightened because Pakistan is importing machinery of a huge value from China, which may further widen the trade imbalance.
Mindful of the growing discontent in Pakistan, Chinese authorities have taken steps to address the concerns.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing on Tuesday pointed out that Beijing understood that Pakistan’s private sector and manufacturers had some reservations about the FTA.
He clarified that China looked at Pakistan as a special partner and it would never like to damage its industry through the bilateral agreement. Chinese authorities suggest Pakistan can increase exports of sugar, corn, vegetables, textiles and seafood.
Despite all the assurances from Beijing, Pakistani authorities believe that exports to China could go up markedly only when the world’s top exporter provides the same concessions to Pakistan that it gives to Asean member states.
Some experts say Pakistani exporters also need to explore Chinese markets proactively because the second largest economy of the world is expected to import products and services valuing at more than $10 trillion a year.
This, like any other country of the world, provides a historic opportunity for enterprises across the world to enter the huge Chinese market. PBC, established in 2005, regularly publishes Pakistan’s trade data with different countries with the aim of stepping up exports and bringing down imports.
Russia invites Pak to participate in world expo 2025
A delegation from Russia has invited Pakistan to participate in the Expo 2025 to be held in Yekaterinburg city. The team, led by Sverdlovsk Region Deputy Governor Alexander G Visokinskiy, was visiting the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).Speaking on the occasion, Visokinskiy said that Russia has never hosted an expo before but it is now going to organise the World Expo 2025 for the first time.
He said that more than 140 countries will participate in the expo that would be the largest international event covering an area of 555 hectares. The deputy governor was of the view that the expo would provide a good platform for demonstration of technical, technological, industrial, cultural and social achievements.
“The expo would provide the Pakistani business community a good opportunity to demonstrate their quality products and enhance their business prospects,” he added.
“They would also be able to hold business negotiations and strengthen cooperation with international participants.”
Speaking to the delegation, ICCI President Sheikh Amir Waheed said that Pakistan and Russia enjoyed good relations, but bilateral trade volume of $500 million did not reflect the true potential between the two countries.
He said that both countries were conducting trade in limited items and they should focus on diversification to achieve mutually beneficial results. Waheed elaborated that Russia has good expertise in energy, engineering and other sectors and it could help Pakistan in many fields of the economy. He also highlighted the potential to develop strong defence cooperation between both the countries.
“Pakistan could provide Russia better market access to South Asia, Middle East, Africa and other countries. Similarly, Pakistan could achieve better market access to Central Asia through Russia. Close cooperation would be mutually beneficial for both.”
Talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the ICCI president said that CPEC has created great prospects and Russian investors should visit Pakistan to explore joint ventures and investment.
Iranian delegation shows interest in Pakistan’s agri sector
A delegation from Iran expressed interest in developing strong trade relations with Pakistan in agriculture products.
A team of entrepreneurs from West Azerbaijan, led by Urmia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Head of Agriculture Commission Behnam Tajodinni, visited the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Tuesday.
Speaking on the occasion, he said that his province has great potential to promote cooperation in agriculture sector with Pakistan.
Tajodinni stressed that the agriculture sector of both countries should develop close cooperation to promote bilateral trade of products between Iran and Pakistan.
He said that about 32 Iranian trucks loaded with agriculture products were stuck at the Pakistani border in Balochistan, adding that Pakistan has not officially conveyed the reasons for the stoppage.
Also addressing the delegation, ICCI President Sheikh Amir Waheed said given the size of both the economies, bilateral trade is far below the actual potential.
EU finalising new engagement plan with Pak
European Union Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain has said that many success stories have emerged in Pakistan in terms of trade enhancement after the GSP Plus facility, but there is still a lot of potential for ramping up exports.
“The European Union is in the process of finalising a new engagement plan to further deepen relations between Pakistan and the European bloc,” he said.
Earlier, the EU had adopted a five-year engagement plan in 2012, which broadened and deepened the relationship between the two sides.
Speaking to members of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) on Monday, Cautain said the EU was reviewing the progress Pakistan had made on implementing the 27 UN conventions pertaining to human rights, labour rights, climate change, narcotics control and corruption.
The review is part of the GSP Plus scheme of duty relief which monitors progress on the conventions and later a report is submitted in this regard to the EU parliament.
Responding to a question, the EU envoy appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and assured businessmen of full cooperation in painting a soft image of Pakistan in EU countries.
PTEA Chairman Shaiq Jawed termed Europe a major export destination for Pakistan and the largest trading partner. He said GSP Plus incentives had helped Pakistan to build its capacity in order to become a more effective and competitive partner in international commerce.
“Not only Pakistan’s market share has increased, but exports to the EU have also jumped from 4.54 billion euros in 2013 to 6.29 billion euros in 2016,” he said. The textile sector, which was the major beneficiary of the duty relief, has gained significant momentum with a 55% increase in exports, supported by a 60% rise in shipments of home textile products.
He emphasised that an international labour standard compliance and reporting programme was successfully running in Pakistan with technical assistance from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to improve workplace practices in the textile industry.
Another programme, in collaboration with the WWF Pakistan, has also been initiated to support enforcement and compliance with the global labour and environmental standards.
A sustainable production centre is being established under the aegis of GIZ Pakistan to work jointly for the promotion and execution of production plans.