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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Jan-14 - 20, 2002

Egypt eyes oil, gas sector for investment

A leading Egyptian businessman said on Thursday that trans-national projects like oil and gas pipelines could be very interesting investment projects provided stability returned to the region.

But business opportunities could emerge only when factors of tension in Afghanistan, Pak-India tension and Middle East were removed, said Shafik Gabr, chairman and managing director of Artoc group for investment and Development at a press conference after holding a meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf.

In Pakistan, he said, economic environment had improved recently and situation was stable both in terms of security and policies. He said that it was his first exploratory visit to Pakistan after being invited by President Gen Pervez Musharraf during his last visit to Cairo, and that his visit would be followed by a team of experts by mid of this year.

He said that Pakistan had a lot of potential but a lot of work needed to be done for its integration with the world which was very competitive at the moment. Pakistan had all the ingredients to be competitive, he said, adding that Egypt had gone through all this restructuring process.

He said his meetings with four ministers and leading businessmen besides the president were very encouraging and both sides discussed how Egypt and Pakistan could use their leverage for economic and commercial relations.

He said his team identified three areas for investment- oil and gas, infrastructure and trade both in terms of direct investments through joint ventures and strategic investments through privatization.

He said Pakistan could take advantage of Egypt because it was gateway to Arab, Middle East and African regions besides member of the 22-member African cooperation forum.

Pakistan allows trade in rupee

Pakistan has asked the interim authority in Afghanistan to set up its embassy in Islamabad as soon as possible and has allowed Pakistan-Afghanistan trade in Pakistani Rupee on advance payment besides adding 18 exportable items.

But this is not a quid pro quo to the opening of Pakistan embassy in Kabul and consulate in Jalalabad next week, Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood told a news conference on Tuesday.

Pakistan has faced over $500 million worth of export loss during first six months of the current fiscal year, he said, and went to explain that total target for July-December 2001 was $4.956 billion but it amounted to $4.449 billion due to Afghan crisis. Similarly, during the month of December exports amounted to $714 million as against a target of $933 million.

Poverty due to failure of governance: ADB

The widespread poverty in Pakistan is due to the failure of governance, believes country director of the Asian Development Bank, M. Ali Shah.

In his detailed presentation at the National Defence College on Monday, he said that the major causes of poverty in Pakistan include (i) lack of employment opportunities, which in the rural setting is caused by the absence of rural-urban linkages; (ii) a slowdown in the pace of economic growth in the 1990s; and (iii) with the burgeoning debt obligations, a decline in the public sector development programme.

Asia FDI conference next month

After a lapse of 42 years, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will hold its second regional foreign direct investment (FDI) conference in Pakistan.

The ICC Asia Regional FDI conference, planned for February 17-18, 2002 in Karachi, will be hosted by the Pakistan National Committee (PNC) of ICC and, according to its organizers, 300-350 delegates, including 60-70 foreigners are expected to participate.

NKC set up

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has constituted the National Kashmir Committee (NKC) presided over by Azad Kashmir Muslim Conference chief Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan.

The president will preside over the first meeting of the committee on Jan 15.

Donors for Afghanistan to meet on 21st

More than 50 countries, almost all multilateral donors, the United Nations, and Afghanistan's interim government, will participate in the ministerial-level conference on the Reconstruction of Afghanistan to be held on January 21 and 22 in Tokyo, its learnt from UN officials.

Sources said that the conference is not intended to be a "pledging" conference but to give a political message to the people of Afghanistan and the world that the international community was not backing away from the issues facing Afghanistan.

Duty relief for pharma raw material

The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has exempted customs duty, an excess of 10 per cent ad valorem, on import of three raw materials to be used in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.

CBR had already allowed import of maximum raw materials and packing materials to be used in manufacturing of medicines at 10 per cent ad valorem.

The raw materials to be exempted are: cefpodoxime, sarafloxacin and spectinomycine base (as dihydro chloride pentahydrate).

Official sources said that the partial duty exemption on the items had the recommendation of the health ministry.

Blair urges talks on Kashmir

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday said Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was willing to have "meaningful" and "comprehensive" dialogue with Pakistan exclusively on the basis of peaceful means.

"In the meantime I emphasised, to President Musharraf as I did to Prime Minister Vajpayee, the desire of the UK and the international community to see the current tensions reduced," the

Gas infrastructure

The government has sought details from the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) as to what role it can play in the gas infrastructure and rehabilitation programmes in Afghanistan.