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FPCCI newly elected team visits RCCI

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: The newly elected president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Ghazanfar Bilour has urged government to take immediate steps for exporter’s refunds claims. Addressing as chief guest at a reception in the honor of newly elected office bearers of FPPCI by Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) yesterday, he said, the refunds claims total figure has been reached to 300 billion. Exports can only be improved once exporters will get their refunds timely.

Normally the whole process took three weeks but unfortunately these claims are pending for the last three years. FBR should stop harassing business community in the name of tax collections. He lauded Government’s recent announcement for lowering electricity and Gas prices, however, he urged that the said incentive should be extended to industries other than export industry.

FPCCI chief said that we have high cost of doing business in the region and exports can only be enhanced once we have a competitive market. He appreciated the role of RCCI in promoting business activities. He said that traders have lot of hopes from him and he will try to meet their trust. He said that his team will work with all chambers to devise a unified strategy to meet the challenges faced by business community.

Earlier, President (RCCI) Zahid Latif Khan while felicitating United Business Group on overwhelming success in Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)’s elections said that Rawalpindi Chamber congratulate the Pattern In Chief United Business Group S.M Munir, Chairman Iftikhar Ali Malik and President Elect Ghazanfar Balour on winning the elections and hoped that winning candidates will work for the betterment of the business community and take every possible step to promote Industrial & Trade activities of the Country.

He hoped that president-elect Ghazanfar Balour and his group will keep an open door policy for everyone and will work for the restoration of business activities in the country. He ensured his full cooperation to the winning team for the Rawalpindi Chamber. On this occasion RCCI chief said that all chambers and business community should join hands to address the issues faced by our community. While giving details on RCCI current activities he said RCCI will organize All Pakistan Chambers Presidents Conference in Gawadar, Business opportunity conference in Doha, Qatar and Rawal International Expo in coming days starting from March. Group leader Suhail Altaf in his address urged government to lower individual income tax rate to 15 percent. Senior Vice President Muhammad Nasir Mirza, Vice President Khalid Farooq Qazi, group leaders, former presidents and members’ executive committee also conveyed their good wishes to the winning group.

SM Munir in his address urged government to provide conducive environment for business in the country. The growing problem of unemployment can only be addressed once we have more industries in the country, he added Senator Ilyas Bilour, UBG Pattern In Chief SM Munir and former FPCCI President Zubair Tufail also spoke on the occasion and urged business community to remain united and work together towards the betterment of the country.

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Branding Pakistan internationally campaign being designed to promote exports

ISLAMABAD (INP): The government would initiate Branding Pakistan internationally with a well-designed campaign to promote exports as well as enhancing competitiveness of country’s products in international market.

Ministry of Commerce is working on developing a three-stage communication and image building strategy which will work on Branding Pakistan (Image building), made in Pakistan (trade) and Make in Pakistan (Investment).

Official sources on Sunday said Pakistan’s exports have witnessed an increasing trend and reached US $ 9.03 billion in first five months (July to November 2017-18), registering 10.50 per cent growth as compared to corresponding period last year.

The exports during corresponding period of last year (July to November 2016-17) were US $ 8.17 billion, the sources said while quoting figures of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

Giving further details, the sources said cost of production depends on national and international variables.

Pakistan exports were facing many challenges like low market diversification and lack of introduction of modern technology by business community which certainly affect cost of production.

The sources said the Ministry is well aware of the fact and keeps on taking various measures that are aimed at reducing cost of production as well as enhancing competitiveness of Pakistani products in international market.

The Ministry has recently undertaken an exercise in consultation with stakeholders to review the Regulatory Duties (RDs) imposed on various items and proposed to remove/reduce RDs on basic raw materials and intermediate goods for downstream industry which would reduce production cost and enhance Pakistan’s integration in the Regional and Global Value Chains.

Listing the other steps, the sources said in order to enhance export competitiveness, the government had announced an Export Enhancement Package of Rs. 180 billion for exporting business community, which is applicable for about 18 months from January 16, 2017 to June 30, 2018. This incentive was revised further vide Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Cabinet decision on October 6, 2017.

The salient features included 50 per cent of rate of incentive for eligible textile and non-textile sectors already announced in PM package shall be provided on same terms as for period January to June, 2017 i.e. without condition of increment while remaining 50 per cent of rate of incentive shall be provided, if the exporter achieves an increase of 10 per cent or more in exports as compared to corresponding period of the last year.

The sources said an additional 2 per cent drawback shall be provided for exports to non-traditional markets i.e. Africa, Latin America, non-European countries, Commonwealth of Independent States and Oceania as same condition as in sub-para (a) and (b).

Moreover, the sources said under Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18, the government has announced following for promoting exports of SME Sector: The initiatives inter-alia included: an incentive for technology up-gradation in shape of investment support of 20 per cent and mark-up support of 50 per cent upto a maximum of Rs. 1 (one) million per annum per company for import of new plant and machinery.

Matching grant upto a maximum of Rs. 5 (five) million for specified plant and machinery or specified items to improve product design and encourage innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and export sectors of leather, pharmaceutical and fisheries.

Matching grant to facilitate branding and certification for faster growth of SME and export sector in Pakistan’s economy through Intellectual Property Registration (including trade and service marks), Certification and Accreditation.

Draw-back for local taxes and levies (DLTL) is being given to exporters on Free on Board (FOB) values of their enhanced exports if increased by 10 per cent and beyond (over last year’s exports) at rate of 4 per cent on increased exports. The sources said the government is providing export-oriented industries with a concession of Rs 3 per unit in electricity tariff since 2016, to promote exports of value added sectors, sales tax zero-rating regime for five export oriented sectors, i.e. textile, leather, carpets, surgical and sports goods has been introduced with effect from July 1, 2016.

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Govt urged to negotiate balance trade

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Businessmen Panel (BMP) on Sunday urged the government to negotiate Indonesian President Joko Widodo on its official visit to Pakistan which will commence on 26th of this month so that balance of trade between two countries could also be compliment to Pakistani exporters.

BMP Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar said: “Pakistan and Indonesia are two friendly countries enjoying historical deep rooted, time tested and all weathered friendship. Both countries are knotted with Islamic brotherhood striving for global peace, promoting tolerance, fighting to eliminate terrorism, extremism, intolerance and endeavoring to resolve problems and differences by peaceful means and holding dialogues as its GDP per capita is more than $11,700 including its exports of around $144,4 billion annually which is a study for Pakistan to learn from our Muslim country how to excel economically.”

He said Indonesia imports over $550 million worth of vegetables annually. The recent economic rise of Indonesia was also example for Pakistan to follow, especially because the two countries signed the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) on February 3, 2012. There is a great potential for Pakistani mangoes to be exported to Indonesia besides Pakistan Indonesia Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry would be helpful to boost trade ties.

Secretary General (Federal) of the BMP, Ahmad Jawad said preferential trade agreement (PTA) between Pakistan and Indonesia had been in place since 2013 and it had pushed bilateral trade from $1.39 billion in financial year 2012-13 to $2.44 billion in 2016-17. However, this growth has not had a favorable impact on exports from Pakistan as these have gone down from $196 million in 2012-13 to $138 million in 2016-17.

The export of Kinnow fruit from Pakistan to Indonesia has increased by 150 per cent to $48 million in the current fiscal year from $20 million during the fiscal year 206-17 and recently Indonesia government has extended the time period on the import of Kinnows which is a unique opportunity for the horticulture exporters.

Jawad said there was great scope of cooperation in the halal food product sector and exports could be boosted. He said export with Indonesia can be enhanced in the agriculture sector and there should be more and more exchange of trade delegations in this regard.

He also said Indonesia had agreed to revise its trade pact with Pakistan, making 20 more items, including rice from Pakistan, duty-free and it is expected that would be officially announced during Indonesian president visit.


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Recent decisions taken to streamline import of used vehicles

ISLAMABAD (INP): Ministry of Commerce for the information of general public and stakeholders including overseas Pakistanis has clarified that the recent decisions were taken for streamlining the process of facilitating import of used vehicles in the country.

Overseas Pakistanis have the facility of importing used cars under baggage, gift and transfer of residence schemes. The use of this provision in the import policy was never intended for commercial imports.

In order to remove chances of any continued misuse of the scheme, without reducing its availability to the genuine beneficiaries, that is overseas Pakistanis, a provision was added in the Import Policy to allow for the payment of Duties and Taxes on such import in foreign exchange by the importer (overseas Pakistani) from his own bank account. This is to make sure that no one else imports in the name of that beneficiary.

Due consideration is, however, being given to the fact that there was an inventory of vehicles in transit while this decision was being taken or under implementation.

In order to avoid undue hardship, a facilitating provision is being finalized for the vehicles in transit only as a one-time dispensation.

It has been noted with concern that there are statements being issued by some office bearers of an association which might convey the impression as if this new provision of policy is being done away for all future imports.

It is therefore clarified that the commercial importers were neither the intended beneficiaries nor the rightful stakeholders in the matter of import of used vehicles under the Baggage, Gift and Transfer of Residence schemes. It is for the benefit of overseas Pakistanis and the provision of payment of duties and taxes from their accounts has become part of the import policy after due deliberations at the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet.

Anyone making any further imports in the hope of any expected change in this policy will do so at his own risk and the Customs authorities will be advised to confiscate such vehicles or take any other legal action meant to deal with illegal imports. Ministry of Commerce does not intend to make any changes in this provision of policy except for the vehicles stuck up in the transit.

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‘Provinces must strengthen resources’

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Miftah Ismail while appreciating the resource mobilization efforts of the Punjab government, urged all the provinces to augment their resources through the provincial revenues.

He was talking to Finance Minister of Punjab, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha in a meeting during which she discussed financial matters relating to Punjab.

Miftah said the federal government fully believed in facilitation to all the provinces in terms of immediate transfer of provincial share in federal revenues.

The federal government would continue to follow the same course in future, he added. He said the government was focused on further strengthening of economy and making concerted efforts for achieving growth target for the current fiscal year.

He said the government would appreciate efforts and contribution of the provinces for economic consolidation.

On the occasion, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha apprised the adviser of the resource mobilization efforts being carried out by the provincial government.

She said the provincial government had laid focus on greater revenue generation, as the increased availability of resources was essential to carry out public service delivery. She also shared with the adviser the key areas of focus of the provincial government and said provision of federal transfers in a timely manner help the provincial government in undertaking its projects and programmes as per schedule.

Among others, the meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Finance Department Punjab.

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Coating show to enhance B2B concept: Allauddin

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Punjab Minister Commerce, Trade and Investment, Sheikh Allauddin has said that some one month earlier Indonesian delegation visited Punjab and showed immense interest to expanding their business in Punjab. He said that today’s exhibition is the next step to enhance the B2B concept.

He expressed these views while participating in Annual Pakistan Coating Show at Expo centre Lahore on Saturday. The exhibition was attended by President Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Malik Tahir Javaid, Vice President Mr Zeshan Khalil, former president Abdul Basit, former secretary GeneraL of SAARC Mr. Rehmat ullah Javed and foreign delegates.

Sheikh Allauddin in his address said that this exhibition will be beneficial for Manufacturer, formulators, suppliers, distributors, traders, stock-its, dealers, process-engineers and quality managers dealing in paints and solvent for the packaging printing, fabrication and chemical industries, from Pakistan and abroad.

He further said that through this exhibition more than 250 foreign & majority from coating industry Pakistan will be benefited and it is expected that more than 15000 visitors will witness of this exhibition.

At the conclusion of ceremony, a memorial shield was presented to Minister by Pakistan Coating’s Administration.



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Purchase of sugarcane at rate of Rs180 to be ensured

F.P. Report

BAHAWALPUR: Provincial Minister for Agriculture Naeem Akhtar Bhabha has said that uninterrupted issuing of permits and purchase of sugarcane at the rate of Rs 180 per 40 kilograms would be ensured and no unfair deduction in prices would be tolerated.

While addressing a meeting at Commissioner Officer Bahawalpur he said that Kisan Package of worth Rs 100 billion by Chief Minister Punjab is evident of his pro-farmer policies.

He asked representatives of farmers to avoid blocking traffic while transporting the sugarcane. Commissioner Bahawalpur Division Capt (retd) Saqib Zafar said that it would be made certain that sugarcane grown near sugar mills that have been closed also gets sold out by enhancing crushing capacity and permit limit of operational sugar mills.

Deputy Commissioner Bahawalpur Rana M. Saleem Afzal told the meeting that eight permit points have been set up in the district from where 660 permits for sugarcane sale are issued daily.

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Oil prices fall as rally falters on growing US output concerns

Monitoring Desk

HOUSTON: Oil prices ended down and broke a four-week winning streak after a rally that had taken benchmarks to three-year highs, as investors sold positions on re-emerging US production concerns.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 70 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $68.61 a barrel after hitting a session low of $68.28. On Monday, they hit their highest since December 2014 at $70.37.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 settled at $63.37 a barrel, down 58 cents, or 0.9 percent. WTI marked a December-2014 peak of $64.89 a barrel on Tuesday.

On a weekly basis, Brent settled 1.8 percent lower while WTI was down 1.5 percent. “We had such a meteoric rise in the oil market recently and we were overbought quite a bit. This is the first time we’ve taken a breath,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “The pullback in relationship to the recent run-up is still very modest,” he added.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report that global oil stocks have tightened substantially, aided by OPEC cuts, demand growth and Venezuelan production hitting near 30-year lows.

But it warned that rapidly increasing production in the United States could threaten market balancing.

“Explosive growth in the US and substantial gains in Canada and Brazil will far outweigh potentially steep declines in Venezuela and Mexico,” the IEA said of 2018 production.

The energy watchdog forecast US supply growth will push its output past 10 million barrels per day (bpd), overtaking Saudi Arabia and rivaling Russia.

US crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA rose nearly 300,000 bpd to 9.75 million bpd last week, according to government data. [EIA/S]

The US oil rig count, an indicator of future production, fell by five this week but at 747, was still much higher than the 551 rigs a year ago, according to General Electric Co’s (GE.N) Baker Hughes energy services firm.

“The drop in the rig count should place a little bit of doubt about the IEA’s forecast of explosive growth. People are starting to really question the validity of demand,” Flynn said.

Overall, however, oil prices remain well supported, and most analysts do not expect steep declines.

Hedge funds have been increasing long positions steadily on expectations that tightening supply will keep prices buoyant. Money managers raised their net long US crude futures and options positions in New York and London by 40,855 contracts to 541,990 in the week to Jan. 16, a record high, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said.

In a separate report, Intercontinental Exchange Inc said speculators trimmed positions in Brent in the week to Jan. 16 from a record the week before, dropping 3,357 contracts to 570,795.

The main price driver has been a production cut by major producers led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia since January last year.

The supply cuts, scheduled to last throughout 2018, were aimed at tightening the market to prop up prices.

Even in the United States, not part of the pact to curb output, crude inventories fell 6.9 million barrels last week to 412.65 million barrels, the lowest seasonal level in three years and below the five-year average marker around 420 million barrels.


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Iftikhar re-elected as VP SAARC chamber

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Iftikhar Ali Malik,Vice President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), an apex body of regional chambers in the region, sets a new record in South Asia getting re-elected for the post unanimously for sixth consecutive two years term.

According to the notification of SAARC chamber issued here by its Secretary General Hina Saeed Saturday, SAARC CCI President Suraj Vaidya, a leading business tycoon hailing from Nepal and SAARC General Assembly and Executive Committee members from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Maldives with majority votes re-elected Iftikhar Ali Malik for the sixth term.

Iftikhar also held the offices of the Presidents Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, besides founder President Pak US Business Council.

He is currently working as Central Chairman United Business Group. He is also the chairman of the Guard Group of Industries and a chain of Mumtaz Bakhtawar Memorial Trust Hospitals.

In his statement, Iftikhar Ali Malik reiterated to continue efforts for greater economic integration by fully exploiting all indigenous natural resources for the progress, prosperity, development and welfare of the people mainly aimed at doing away with abject poverty in South Asia. The SAARC should be more active to address major challenges the region faces, job creation for the youth of South Asia and alleviation of poverty, he added.

He said South Asia comprises three per cent of the world’s area, 21 per cent of the world’s population and 3.8 per cent (US$ 2.9 trillion) of the global economy.

The respective governments were trying to give its people a much higher quality of life racked by high illiteracy, dismissal health care and sanitation.

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German, Italian, Spanish companies keen for starting joint ventures with Pakistan

F.P. Report

LAHORE: A high level delegation of Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Saturday returned home from different European countries including Germany, Portugal, Austria, Spain and Italy after twelve days long extensive visit aimed at exploring new markets and strengthening existing bilateral trade relations with their counterparts in furniture industry during business to business contacts.

Talking to newsmen on his arrival here today, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq said this business tour provided them ample chances to explore new avenues by sharing vision, expertise for formulation of future policies, economic studies, sectoral and project specific reports besides promotional efforts. He was of the view that economic and trade relations between Pakistan and Europe possessed great potential and there was dire need for Pakistani business community to focus on improving their competitiveness in the European market.

He said that European Union is the largest economy in the world with a GDP per head of €25 000 for its 500 million consumers besides this it is the most open to developing countries and imported more from developing countries than the USA, Canada, Japan and China put together.

He said both the European Union and Pakistan should identify more areas for mutual cooperation and should also introduce more tradable items to enhance mutual trade volume. He said that visa policy for the businessmen of Europe and Pakistan should be liberalised so that they could plan their business travels with quite ease.

Mian Kashif said Germany, Italian and Spanish furniture producing companies have shown keen interest in Pakistani market and urged the Pakistani businessmen to start joint ventures with their European counterparts. “Pakistan should take full advantage of best geographical positions of Germany and Spain in the European Union, he added.

Answering a question, he said Pakistan shows the best potential of increasing its exports to the EU among all countries benefiting from the GSP (Generalised Scheme of Preferences) Plus. He said Pakistan’s business community is not only targeting to step up exports to the EU, but is also striving to strengthen the partnership that will facilitate growth in trade with major partners such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Austria, Portugal, France and Italy.

He further said the European production of furniture components is worth about Euro 5,200 million. “Italy is the leading European producer, exporter, and consumer, while Germany – being the main furniture producer in Europe – is the leading importer of furniture components,” adding he said Pakistan export can be increased if the European markets will be explored properly.