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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Nov 19 - 25, 2001

Pakistan likely to suffer $2 billion loss

The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) chairman Tariq Ikram on Tuesday said that the country was likely to suffer up to $2 billion losses on account of post-Sept 11 adverse developments which are taking heavy toll.

Addressing the members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association at the Aptma House, the EPB chief brushed aside the general notion that these developments would result in economic bonanza for the country.

"I would say that economic concessions being given by the Western world to Pakistan may only be sufficient to cover our losses sustained in post-Sept 11 situation and in no way would be a bonanza," he stressed.

Tariq Ikram admitted that a mistake had been committed at the official level for projecting that 'business as usual' was going on in Pakistan during post-Sept 11 incident.

He said this sent a wrong message to the US government which made its decisions on merit based on ground realities. But the country is likely to suffer up to $2bn on account of various negative developments which surfaced after September 11.

"Though our share in total US trade volume is of very negligible amount but still it matters a lot when it comes to textiles which is a main stay of our economy and contributes over 60 per cent in exports," he added.

Consequently, a one per cent fall in textile exports in October, he said, was enough to alarm "us even if entire exports have registered two per cent growth over the last year".

He said only time would tell how much impact would be on total exports of the orders received or cancelled during Sept to Nov, but the least one could do was keep trying to match the pace of exports with those of last year.

The EPB chief said in the post-Sept 11 there had been a dip in consumers' buying and spending which was one of the factors for lower demand from the West.

UN okays plan for broad-based Afghan govt

The UN Security Council on Wednesday approved a UN plan to establish a "broad-based, multi-ethnic, and fully representative" government in Afghanistan following the fall of Taliban.

The resolution adopted with a vote of 15-0 reaffirmed that the UN should play a "central role" in supporting attempts of the Afghan people to establish a new transitional administration and government.

It also asked the council to give its full support for the efforts of UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's special representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, in leading such negotiations.

Musharraf emphasizes liaison with Iran

Iran and Pakistan agreed on Thursday to immediately hold foreign ministers' level talks to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

The understanding was reached at meetings held between the interior ministers of both the countries over the past two days. The Iranian foreign minister is likely to visit Pakistan for holding the talks, an announcement said.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari also called on President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Thursday.

The President at the meeting said that Pakistan and Iran must work in close coordination for bringing durable peace and stability to Afghanistan, said a press release.

On Pakistan-Iran relations, the President said that both the countries enjoyed cordial, brotherly and close relations based on mutual interest. He called for further strengthening of the bilateral relations.

$131m UNDP loan for 24 projects

The United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday committed $131 million for 24 new and on-going projects in Pakistan.

The amount is almost twice than the existing UNDP commitment, UNDP assistant administrator Dr Hafeez Pasha announced at a meeting.

He said out of 24 projects, some 13 were new and 11 were on-going. Disbursement shall be over the next three years.

The total project outlay for the entire portfolio is $166.22 million. After the commitment of $131 million, the funding gap remains $35.22 million, which shall be bridged through other donors, including bilateral and multilateral agencies, the official added.

Norway doubles annual assistance

Norway has doubled its annual assistance programme to Pakistan from Norwegian Kronnas 33 million to 66 million.

This was disclosed by Ms Hilde Frafjord Johnson, minister for international development of Norway in a meeting with Shaukat Aziz, minister for finance on Wednesday.

Musharraf vows to check influence of extremists

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has said that a tiny minority of "unenlightened, obscurantist and backward-looking" religious extremists will not be allowed to hold Pakistan back from becoming the most powerful moderate Islamic country in the world.

"We are a people of 140 million people. We are a nuclear power. If our economy is stabilized, we will become the most powerful moderate Islamic country," President Musharraf told a news conference on Monday.

No fund for cane research

No fund has been provided for research and development of sugarcane despite repeated assurances by the federal government to allocate 15 per cent of the total sugarcane cess collection for this purpose.

According to an estimate, the collection of sugarcane development cess on annual basis comes to Rs367.6 million, which is charged at varying rates in all the three sugarcane producing provinces Sindh, Punjab and NWFP.

OPIC investment linked with tax exemption

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) of the United States has agreed to bring in Pakistan major investment in the insurance and debt equity sectors, but in turn demanded blanket tax exemptions.

The US and Pakistan governments have in principle agreed to enter into 'Investment Incentive Agreement' (IIA) to boost American investment in the country, a high official in the commerce ministry told.