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Uber to starts its bike service in Karachi

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Uber has announced the arrival of Uber Moto in Karachi today via its official Twitter account. Users can now avail Uber’s bike-hailing service anywhere in the city.

Uber MOTO was launched in Lahore last month and now the company has initiated this service in Karachi. This service will enable the users to commute at much cheaper rates. This service charges 13 Rs. per KM while the base fare is 26.6 Rs. So, if you travel 1 KM in one minute, you will be charged 41.66 Rs.

Karachi, your uberMOTO has arrived. Your daily commute just got cheaper than your next bun kabab.

Uber continues to showcase its reinforced commitment to Pakistan, developing a range of services to meet riders, drivers and cities needs and standards.

Meanwhile, women in Pakistan still feel hesitant when it comes to using this bike-hailing service. They are not comfortable traveling at the back of a motorbike with an unknown man.

A woman who works at a bank in Johar Town, Lahore and uses Uber for commuting daily, told TechJuice, “I would always prefer to use a rickshaw or car but not motorbike unless a woman is driving the motorbike.”

What is the most important factor you take into consideration when using such service? Let us know in the comments section below.




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Saudi Arabia seeks oil price as high as $100

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI/LONDON: Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel, three industry sources said, a sign Riyadh will seek no changes to an OPEC supply-cutting deal even though the agreement’s original target is within sight.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers began to reduce supply in January 2017 in an attempt to erase a glut. They have extended the pact until December 2018 and meet in June to review policy.

OPEC is closing in on the original target of the pact – reducing industrialized nations’ oil inventories to their five-year average. There is no indication yet, however, that Saudi Arabia or its allies want to wind down the supply cut.

Over the past year, Saudi Arabia has emerged as OPEC’s leading supporter of measures to boost prices, a change from its more moderate stance in earlier years. Iran, once a keen OPEC price hawk, now wants lower prices than Saudi Arabia.

Industry sources have linked this shift in Saudi Arabia’s stance to its desire to support the valuation of state oil company Aramco ahead of the kingdom’s planned sale of a minority stake in an initial public offering.

The supply cut has helped boost oil prices this year to $73 a barrel, the highest since November 2014. Oil began a slide from above $100 – a price that Saudi Arabia endorsed in 2012 – in mid-2014, when growing supply from rival sources such as U.S. shale began to swamp the market.

But the kingdom wants the rally to go further. Two industry sources said a desired crude price of $80 or even $100 was circulated by senior Saudi officials in closed-door briefings in recent weeks.

“We have come full circle,” a separate high-level industry source said of the change in Saudi thinking. “I would not be surprised if Saudi Arabia wanted oil at $100 until this IPO is out of the way.”

Once the Aramco share sale is done, Riyadh would still want higher prices to help fund initiatives such as Vision 2030, an economic reform plan championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Saudi Arabia wants higher oil prices and yes, probably for the IPO, but it isn’t just that,” an OPEC source said.

“Look at the economic reforms and projects they want to do, and the war in Yemen. How are they going to pay for all that? They need higher prices.”

To be sure, OPEC and Saudi Arabia have no official price target and say the objective of the production cut is to balance supply and demand, and reduce the inventory glut.

But guidance on preferred price levels comes from officials speaking off the record, and from industry sources who have discussed the issue with Saudi officials.

“I personally think that now $70 is the floor for oil prices,” a second OPEC source said. “But OPEC is unlikely to make any changes in June, maybe by the end of the year. The market still needs support.”

OPEC and its partners meet on June 22 to review policy and before then a ministerial monitoring panel gathers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on April 20.

By OPEC’s parameters, the deal has worked. Oil stocks in developed economies in February stood a mere 43 million barrels above the latest five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above in January 2017.

The cuts have been even bigger than those specified in the deal, thanks in part to a slide in Venezuelan production due to an economic crisis in the South American country.

Compliance has reached 150 percent, according to OPEC, meaning the organization’s members have cut production by about 1.8 million barrels per day, 600,000 bpd more than pledged.

Few OPEC sources call for an exit strategy. Most officials are talking of introducing additional inventory metrics to assess the success of the deal, and of a need to support investment in new production to avert any supply crunch.

The impression is that oil prices are seen as not yet high enough to encourage sufficient oil investment.

“We will know what will be the good price when the market is balanced and we have enough investments,” the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister, Suhail al-Mazroui, told Reuters last week. “We need to have more investments coming.”

The Jeddah meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee is unlikely to change the parameters for assessing the deal’s success, Mazroui and other OPEC officials said, and sources see little chance of a major tweak in June.

“Even if we reach the five-year average before June, it does not mean we just go and open the taps,” a third OPEC source said. “We have to test it.”Reuters


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Pakistan emerging top investment destination for global investors

Monitoring Desk

RIYADH: Pakistan is fast emerging as a top investment destination in the world, said Naeem Zamindar while addressing the Saudi investors in Pakistan Investment Seminar 2018 held at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Engineer Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) was the chief guest on the occasion.

Khan Hasham Bin Saddique, the ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia, Nawaf Almaliki, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan and Engineer Ahmed bin Suleiman Alrajhi, the chairman of Riyadh Chamber were also in attendance, according to a statement.

The seminar was jointly organised by the Pakistan Board of Investment, Council of Saudi Chambers, Riyadh Chamber and Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh. The purpose of the seminar was to showcase the investment opportunities available in Pakistan under an attractive investment regime laced with incentives and guarantees.

More than 150 Saudi Arabian companies participated in the event. The ambassador of Pakistan lauded the decision of government of Saudi Arabia to appoint a commercial counselor to Pakistan. He thanked the Saudi companies for their enthusiastic participation in seminar.

He said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were increasing collaboration to devise frameworks and streamline rules in various areas. “All these factors render Pakistan as a natural and attractive choice for investment by Saudi businessmen.”

The participants were briefed in detail by the chairman Board of Investment about the growth trajectories of the country as acknowledged by the world-repute institutions and its growing attractiveness as the world’s favorite destination of investment. He stated that under the guidance of the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Board of Investment was reforming to create a business and environment friendly environment.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the resulting role of Pakistan as an economic and connectivity hub were also discussed in detail.

The Saudi investors were also given detailed information about potential of various sectors in Pakistan and the specific projects available as immediate and long term investment opportunities.

Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest, the governor of SAGIA stated that Pakistan was like their second home. He reiterated the resolve of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance the level of mutual investments between the two brother countries. He acknowledged that Pakistan has a great scope of collaboration with Saudi Arabia, especially regarding the opportunities arising as a result of transformation drive of the Kingdom.

The Riyadh Chamber chairman also appreciated the long established relations between the Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and urged greater economic cooperation.

During the interactive session, reputable business groups exhibited their keen interest in starting business in Pakistan. They were invited to visit Pakistan and were assured of full support by the government of Pakistan.


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US, China trade war to have limited impact

Monitoring Desk

ISTANBUL: The trade war between China and the US is not likely to have a disruptive impact, according to top economists.

“There is a low probability of disruptive trade war,” Mickey Levy, chief economist for Americas and Asia at ?Berenberg Capital Markets, told Anadolu Agency.

Levy called President Donald Trump’s tactics “erratic” and “unpredictable”.

He said rising uncertainties and financial market volatility may dampen confidence and weigh on economic performance.

He also said Trump’s trade negotiations with EU and Japan will result in lower trade barriers.

Holger Schmieding, a chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said economic damage of the trade war remains much smaller than the risk.

“Effects of the trade war between China and US is likely to be benign,” Schmieding said.

He underlined that EU was a top global power regarding trade which was able to act.

“EU is most likely to act roughly in line with economic logic,” he said.

Last month, Trump signed orders which impose 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively. The decision created perceptions of a downturn in global trade.

After Trump’s move, China struck back with tariffs between 15 percent and 25 percent on 128 US goods, including fresh and dried fruit, wine, pork, aluminium.





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‘Pak furniture needs govt help to capture world market’

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Ch Muhammad Sarwar, Senator and former Governor Punjab Wednesday said Pakistan furniture industry has a big potential to dominate global markets with innovative designs and could make a substantial contribution of billions of dollars export annually if the government properly patronizes it on priority for boosting export of Pakistani handmade furniture.

He expressed these views during his interaction with Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq here today. Ch Muhammad Sarwar urged the government to establish greater liaison with this sector to fully understand the market conditions and requirements of the industry needs to protect, develop and promote.

He said his interaction is imperative in order to determine how our industries are faring and to see how they can better be supported through government interventions. He said Pakistan loses a huge amount of foreign exchange to importation; this we can be reduced by encouraging our local industries to grow by patronizing them.

He further said he will raise voice for the support of furniture industry in senate and will persuade his colleagues to make a comprehensive plan after consulting with stakeholders in furniture industry for giving it a status of industry to furniture sector in Pakistan in order to enhance its production capacity along with innovative designs.

Ch Sarwar said he would also ask the concerned authorities to provide more visible support to furniture business in terms of simple and easily obtainable grants for exhibiting and travelling to trade shows and promoting Pak export as a success globally.

On this occasion, PFC Chief Mian Kashif said “We constantly have to bring in expatriates to run the latest machines being used in furniture production and in this regard, PFC has signed an agreement with TEVTA to train woodworkers on modern scientific lines.

PFC and TEVTA will hire jointly international trainers to train and educate woodworkers. He further said aside from the generic issues of infrastructure, lack of regular supply of electricity, transportation, not getting raw materials for production etc., the greatest challenge is in getting the skilled labour. “We recognize that there is a major gap in getting really skilled and qualified personnel for manufacturing. We have to sustain our economy with our own people.

He said we need policies to protect the furniture sector so that we can grow in the correct manner. We currently cannot compete with the Chinese market because of their prices which is largely due to the availability of skilled labour.

“China for instance has over a thousand technical schools, and enroll at least eleven million people with the support of their government to ensure they set up programs that will support the local industry,” he added.

Mian Kashif further added that patronage is very key. He stressed the need for the government and the Pakistani people to increase their patronage of furniture products made by local industry.

He said that if the required support was given to manufacturers and brands to reach out to international market, Pakistan’s industry would contribute to the economy and furniture products would be considered leaders in the international market.

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19 million homes in Turkey prefer satellite broadcast

ISTANBUL (AA): Satellite connection is Turkey’s first choice for TV reception mode as 19 million homes receive TV channels via satellite, according to leading global satellite company SES on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference, Ricardo Topham, senior market and business analyst at SES, said that Turkey was covered in the company’s annual market research for the first time.

“According to our ‘Satellite Monitor 2017’ report, 87 percent of the Turkish TV audience meet broadcasts directly via satellite,” Topham said.

“Approximately one-third of households in Turkey, 6.7 million homes, benefit from the HD quality broadcasts,” he said, adding: “Turkish TV series and other contents made in Turkey are quite popular in other countries, especially in Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa.”

Nejla Bilge Atila, business development manager at SES Turkey, also noted that there is an interest in Turkish content abroad.

“However, Turkish publishers and TV channels have some difficulties in entering the European market,” she said. “Hopefully, there is an excellent content and workforce in Turkey, and we are here to transfer all our knowledge to Turkish publishers.”

“Our primary objective is to reduce satellite costs in Turkey and offer broadcasters and platforms alternative services,” Atila added.

SES, headquartered in Luxembourg, is currently operating more than 60 satellites to offer its customers — broadcasters, operators, service providers, private companies, public organizations — communication services. The company has nearly 2,000 employees in over 20 regional offices around the world.

According to SES’s annual market research, the number of video households served by the company reached 351 million TV homes last year, marking over 1 billion global audience receiving video content. The company carries more than 2,500 HD channels in a global scale — out of some 7,700 channels in total.




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Ferries docked as seamen strike against reforms

ATHENS (Reuters): Greek ferries remained docked at the country’s ports on Wednesday as seamen, marine engineers and ship cooks walked off the job to protest against planned government reforms which they say will further hurt their labour rights.

The 24-hour strike was organised by Greece’s seamen federation (PNO), which said the leftist-led government was preparing a reform allowing non-European flagged transport ships to sail in Greece, leading to job losses for Greek crews.

The reform is coming on top of pension cuts, rising unregistered labour and work without any insurance, PNO said.

“The planned dismantling and the annihilation of our legal rights, and the continuing effort to ruin Greek seamen, cannot and will not stay unanswered,” PNO said, promising to escalate labour action.

Ferry companies have announced changes to their service schedules and passenger traffic was slow at Piraeus port on Wednesday morning.

Traffic has been picking up as the summer, the top tourism season for the Mediterranean country, approaches.

Marine unions have strongly resisted reforms liberalising the shipping sector, which along with tourism is a pivotal industry for Greece, a country of proud seafarers and shipowners.

Since its worst debt crisis in decades broke out in 2010, Greece has sold management rights and majority stakes at its two largest ports, as demanded by its foreign lenders, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The Greek state is considering concession deals for the development of about 850 small ports and marinas.


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Rolling rail strike continued

Monitoring Desk

PARIS: Millions of commuters across France on Wednesday were facing another wave of crippling transport chaos caused by rolling strikes called by state railway unions to protest reform plans announced by President Emmanuel Macron and his government.

A total of 36 days of rolling strikes — which started on April 3 — are scheduled over three months.

Although the impact of the strike is easing and trains are running, major disruptions still hamper regional mainline services. One high-speed TGV train out of three is operating, as well as two of five regional trains.

Macron on Wednesday urged the unions “to stop blocking” the country as parliament has already voted for the railway reform pact.

Four labor unions have called for action against government plans to revamp the debt-laden SNCF ahead of an opening to competition in 2019. Reforms also include the cancellation of a special status historically given to railway workers by 2020 — which guarantees them a job for life and early retirement — for new recruits.

“The status quo is not viable,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in an interview published in the newspaper Le Parisien on Sunday. “It’s urgent, we need to advance, and everyone should know we are determined to see this through to the end.”

Separately, seven main public sector trade unions called for a one-day strike on May 22 to protest Macron’s plans to reform the eurozone’s second largest economy. AA


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Ola to add 10,000 electric vehicles in India

NEW DELHI: Indian ride-hailing firm Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank, said it will add 10,000 electric three-wheelers to its fleet over the next 12 months as part of a plan to promote the use of electric vehicles.

Ola plans to have 1 million electric vehicles on offer by 2021, it said in a statement, adding that it will work with various state governments, vehicle manufacturers and battery companies to meet its target.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is determined to promote electric vehicle use, starting with public transport and taxis, to combat rising pollution and reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil. India has also set a target to make all new vehicles electric by 2030.

Ola, which operates in 110 Indian cities and has over a million driver partners, said the electric three-wheelers will be introduced in three cities but did not name them.

Three-wheelers are commonly used, especially in smaller cities, but electric variants were introduced only a couple of years ago.

Ola did not say which manufacturers would provide the three-wheelers or whether it would be the company making the purchases or whether the vehicles would be driver-owned. It also did not provide details of when it planned to introduce electric cars.

Last May, Ola launched a pilot project to test a fleet of electric vehicles in the Western city of Nagpur. But its drivers, unhappy with long wait times at charging stations and high operating expenses, said they want to return the cars.

“The EV (electric vehicle) program in Nagpur has provided Ola with significant insights into effectively managing vehicles, batteries, and operations,” the company said in the statement on Monday. It added that it plans to continue exploring ways to optimize batteries and charging.

Electric car sales in India, one of the world’s fastest-growing auto markets, made up less than 0.1 per cent of annual sales of more than 3 million passenger cars. They are expensive and the infrastructure to charge the vehicles is inadequate. Reuters

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Amazon starts international shopping from America

WASHINGTON: (Reuters) – Inc has launched an international shopping feature that will enable customers across the world to shop more than 45 million items that can be shipped to their country from the United States.

The international shopping feature, which is available on a mobile browser and the mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, has been extended to users to purchase products outside their home markets and is available in five languages, including Spanish, English, simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese and German, Amazon said on Tuesday.

It will allow customers to shop in 25 currencies, with more languages and currencies to be added in 2018.

Customers can also choose from different shipping options and delivery speeds.

The international shopping feature will display pricing, shipping costs and import duty estimates, with Amazon managing courier service and customs clearance in case of potential surprises at the time of purchase or delivery.