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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Nov 05 - 11, 2001

US wants more textile imports from Pakistan

The Bush administration wants Congress to write legislation allowing a freer flow of Pakistani textile products into the United States, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday.

The move is part of a broader administration effort to reward Pakistan for cooperating with US efforts to topple Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and apprehend Osama bin Laden. But at the same time, the administration is mindful of the difficult economic times the US textile industry has hit upon in recent months and the impact a flood of Pakistani imports would have domestically.

Zoellick, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Bush administration's goal is "to try to reduce tariffs and to try to support Pakistan's overall economic growth programme."

About 85 per cent of Pakistan exports are textile products. The United States imports about $2 billion worth annually.

Earlier this month, the American Textile Manufacturers Association, which represents the US industry, indicated it would support a limited loosening of restrictions on Pakistan's textile exports.

For example, an ATMI official said the organization would support duty-free entry for hand-knotted and hand-hooked floor coverings from Pakistan, a move that would be worth about $100 million a year to Pakistan. But the US industry was resisting broader exceptions to the limits on Pakistan's textile shipments.

Zoellick said one of the points he made to the Pakistanis is that the US textile industry has lost about 600,000 jobs and been forced to close 200 to 300 plants.

Petroleum prices slashed nominally

The Oil Companies Advisory Committee on Wednesday slashed the prices of petroleum products by 0.46 per cent to 8.17 per cent. The new prices will be effective from Nov 1 to 15.

The new price of petrol is fixed at Rs30.26 per litre from Rs 30.51 per litre, and high speed diesel (HSD) is priced at Rs 16.59 per litre from Rs17.33 per litre.

High Octane Blending Component (HOBC) will be available at Rs34.32 per litre from previous Rs34.48 per litre. Kerosene oil is now tagged at Rs 14.94 per litre from Rs16.27 per litre. JP-4 and light diesel oil prices have been fixed at Rs14.11 and Rs14.02 per litre as against Rs14.72 and Rs14.48 per litre.

The OCAC attributed the price cut to decline in product prices, says a press release.

Yarn exports decline by 15pc in Oct

There is a sharp fall in the off-take of yarn in the domestic as well as world market after Sept 11, resulting in erosion of prices and higher inventory of the produce with spinning mills, industry sources said on Wednesday.

The unsold stocks of yarn lying with the mills during the month of October swell by 30 per cent over the stocks held in the same period last year. Similarly, export of yarn declined by 15 per cent and that of fabric by 8 per cent during the month, sources said.

The price of 30 counts yarn has slipped down by around 20 per cent at Rs460 per bundle of 10 lb from Rs500 per bundle. In the same way the 20 count yarn moved lower to Rs365 per bundle or 10 lb from Rs400.

Sugar prices go up

Sugar prices have gone up by Re1 to Rs2 per kg to Rs23-24 per kg from Rs21 per kg just a day before Shab-e-Barat falling on Thursday-Friday night.

Shab-e-Barat is an occasion when Muslims prepare halwa using sugar as the main ingredient. Rising demand for sugar has led to price increase.

Retailers attributed the price hike to holding back of stocks by the millers to fetch higher prices in view of rising demand.

The wholesale prices of sugar has come down to Rs19 per kg from Rs24 per kg in the last one month. Just two days ahead of Shab-e-Barat, sugar millers had stopped releasing the stocks which caused the price hike.

Razak assures higher rates for fine cotton

The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has decided to purchase premium cotton qualities (Grade-I and II) from the market to encourage farmers towards better quality and contamination-free produce.

Speaking at a news conference, Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood said the government focused more emphasis on quality cotton because it would take "us to more value addition as envisaged under the textile vision-2005". Till last year, the corporation picked up only the grade-III cotton, he said.

Medium term outlook for the economy

For the past two years, the State Bank annual reports have tended to be more objective and have provided detailed information required by an emerging market.

Business needs accurate information and data to take right decisions in an regulated economy moving towards a free market. Transparency also provides equality of opportunity and weakens the system of patronage practised in a regulated economy.

The State Bank's annual review of the economy indicates the elements of future present in the outgoing year. In brief observations hinting as to how the future would shape, it helps to form views about the directions things are likely to move. The quarterly SBP reports keep the business updated on the economic environment in which it has to operate.

State Bank warns of lower GDP growth

The State Bank has warned of lower-than-targeted growth in Pakistan's gross domestic product during this fiscal year in case of a "more protracted and extended war" in Afghanistan and in the wake of a global recession. The central bank warns that GDP growth in July/June 2001-02 could range between 2.5-3.75 per cent against the target of 4 per cent.

In its annual report for fiscal 2000-01 released on Monday, the SBP says that the Sept 11 attacks (on the US soil) have further intensified the global recession which are clearly shown in financial markets the world over.

Wheat target fixed at 20.1m tons

The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Monday fixed target of wheat at 20.1 million tons for the upcoming season.

The provinces were asked to prepare a wheat production plan and strategy to achieve this target.

The decision to this effect was taken in meeting presided over by minister for food and agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo.

The production targets of gram and lentil were also fixed at 580,000 tons and 40,000 tons respectively.