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Feb 05 - 11, 2001

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia agree to boost trade

The sixth Pak-Saudi Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) has stressed on improving the role of private sector in enhancing the trade relations between the two countries.

The JMC ended its meeting on Wednesday on a positive note stressing the need and the desire of both the countries to bring their economic relations at par with the excellent political relations between the two states.

It decided to intensify their economic relations and take special measures to strengthen this relationship.

Pakistan Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Saudi Commerce Minister Osama Jaffer Faqeeh, later signed the minutes of the sixth JMC.

At the end of the JMC, it was announced that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to renew the existing agreement on protection and promotion of investments in each of the two states. Emphasis was also laid on more regular visits by private sector entrepreneurs of the two states. In this regard, the Saudi authorities agreed to look at the problems of the Pakistani businessmen in obtaining visas for Saudi Arabia. It was also decided to give a greater and more enhanced role to the Pak-Saudi Joint Business Council, which was established last year in the private sector.

The JMC decided to explore possibilities of further cooperation in a number of fields, including investments in petroleum, gas and other related energy sectors, food and agro-based industry, banking, information technology, cement industry, textile goods and readymade garments, leather industry and fertilizer.

The possibilities presented by the ongoing process of privatization in both the states also came under review. Already 26 joint venture projects exist between the two countries.

After the initial session, the JMC was divided into four sub-committees on commerce and investment, science and technology, education and culture and a separate panel of businessmen to promote interaction between private sector of the two states.

US rejects request

The United States has rejected Pakistan's request for revising or modifying F-16 payment settlement agreement saying it is too late to accommodate such a request, official sources told.

Under the agreement signed in September 2000, the United States had agreed to return Pakistan's $140 million, which Islamabad had deposited a decade ago for the purchase of F-16 fighter planes that were never delivered.

Washington forcibly deducted $60 million from this money for 300,000 tons of wheat which it had earlier provided to Pakistan as aid.

It asked Pakistan to buy soya bean oil and oilseed for the remaining $80 million and that too at exorbitant rates.

Islamabad had recently asked the United States to allow it to import wheat instead of 165,000 tons of soya bean seed and 50,000 metric tons of oil as their import will hurt the local oilseed production programme.

Flight to carry aid to Iraq

A special goodwill-cum-humanitarian flight carrying Rs10 million consignment of medicines, medical supplies and surgical instruments, as a gift for the people of Iraq from the people of Pakistan, departed on Friday (Feb 2) for Baghdad on a brief visit.

Health Minister Dr Abdul Malik Kasi led the 25-member delegation which includes doctors and paramedics, officials, representatives of media and NGOs.

"The delegation is going to Baghdad on the request of the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad," official sources said.

While in Baghdad, the team of doctors will also assess the future requirements of medicines.

Pakistan sends more aid

Pakistan sent relief assistance for the third consecutive day for the quake-affected people of Gujarat in India, officials said on Thursday. A Pakistan air force C-130 plane loaded with 200 tents and 2,500 blankets left for Ahmedabad in the morning.

Audit of companies

Companies with a paid-up capital of less than Rs3 million but having turnover and total assets exceeding Rs21 million will be required to have their accounts "audited by a Chartered Accountant as defined in the Chartered Accountants Ordinance, 1961".

RECP, CEC merge into TCP

The long awaited merger of Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan (RECP) and Cotton Export Corporation (CEC) into Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has taken place.

A senior official of the trading corporation said on Thursday that after the permission of Sindh High Court through its order of January 19, 2001, the rice export and cotton export corporation now stood amalgamated with the trading corporation.

Romanian team

Romania's 11-member delegation of businessmen, led by President of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, George Cojocaru, will arrive in Karachi on February 5 on a six day visit to Pakistan. During stay in Pakistan, the delegation will also visit Islamabad and Lahore.

Incentive package for 9 sectors

The federal government on Tuesday announced a 10-year package for promoting exports of more than 300 products in nine major sectors by allowing duty exemption from import of machinery, if the manufacturers achieve 40 per cent value addition and export 50 per cent of the total production.

Virtual university

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Prof Atta-ur-Rehman Tuesday asked IBM to join hands with the government in setting up of a virtual university for the spread of IT education in the country.

He was addressing an IBM ACE event in connection with IT education in Pakistan.

The minister said virtual university will broadcast its programmes from television and, tuition centres will be set up throughout the country.