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E-commerce market size to grow up to $1b

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The size of e-commerce market, one of the most important drivers of a digital Pakistan, is expected to grow up to US $ 1 billion by 2020 which falls between US $ 70-150 million.

The regulations regarding Framework for Payment System Operators (PSO) and Payment Service Providers (PSP) have been devised and approved by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) while development of E-commerce Policy Framework is also under process to cater to all elements of user, merchant trust with dispute resolution and remedial mechanisms.

Annual report-2017 of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has revealed that on directions of Prime Minister, Ministry of Commerce has formulated “E-Commerce Policy Board” to monitor progress and ensure coordinated cross institutional efforts for development of e-Commerce in Pakistan.

The report said in private sector, entrepreneurs have launched e-commerce initiatives for consumers (B2C) that have been success stories such as,,

The most important element of the E-commerce ecosystem is Payment Gateway that will enable entry of credible international players in E-commerce ecosystem of Pakistan and will resolve longstanding barrier to growth of Pakistani E-commerce market.

The recent policy and regulatory development have paved the way for credible international players to enter into Pakistan’s E-Commerce market.

World’s largest E-commerce company, Alibaba, has shown its interest in Pakistani market and signed a MoU with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to bring small and medium enterprise in realm of E-commerce platform.

Engagements with Alibaba can transform reach of Pakistani products to international markets and help promote E-commerce and financial services in Pakistan.

The report said Pakistan is generally a cash driven economy as number of debit/credit card holders is small and m-wallet accounts are also very low due to which more than 95 per cent of the e-commerce transactions are done by Cash on Delivery system. Pakistan is also making good progress on Business to Business (B2B) front as software industry aims to achieve the goal of US $ 5 billion export mark by year 2020.

Furthermore, the IT industry has various medium-sized IT firms earning nearly US $ 530 million, mainly in software development and service out-sourcing.

However, Pakistan’s share in the global IT sales is just US $ 2.8 billion out of global US $ 3.2 trillion global market. Consumer buying trend in Pakistan is not just limited to buying products online, there are also websites for cars, property and travel which shows that consumers in Pakistan are using internet to experience a wide range of economic activities.

Some of local portals have emerged as leading online businesses in Pakistan. The auto portal PakWheels has emerged as the leading online car buying and selling website in Pakistan.

It has reached a listing of over 160,000 cars and over 24,000 motorcycles and is accessed by more than 100,000 unique visitors every day. is the leading online real estate database that connects real estate dealers, developers, estate agencies with general buyers, sellers and renters in Pakistan.

Food Panda, Pakistan’s leading food delivery app, estimates that it has generated a staggering one billion rupees in additional sales for the restaurant industry during the last year. enjoys an exalted standard as Pakistan’s leading job website with plenty of nationwide vacancies advertised each day. is the largest on-line shopping mall, which provides platform to multiple vendors and one-stop shop to consumers.

All leading brands for fashion, food, accessories etc. are also offering online shopping facility to their customers. These portals are now also providing mobile and online solutions for payments.

However, it is imperative that the Government and private sector enable safe, reliable and unrestricted environment for the consumers for E-commerce activities.

The success of such online ventures has made the E-commerce market of Pakistan a lucrative market for foreign investment in the digital world. recently managed to secure an investment of US$ 55 million for its operations in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar from Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG) and Commonwealth Development Corporation Group, United Kingdom. raised US$ 29 million in two rounds of international funding from Catch Group and Frontier Digital Ventures.

Careem has raised an investment of US$ 60 million from Abraaj Group (Abraaj) as lead investor for its operations in Pakistan and MENA region while raised US$ 6.5 million in a Series C funding round with VostokNafta and Piton Capital Lead Investment as the main investors.

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Rizwan appointed as Chairman PNSC

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The federal government has appointed Rizwan Ahmed, a BS-21 officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), as Chairman Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC). The new chairman assumed charge of his office on Monday.

Rizwan holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, USA. He joined the government service in 1988. Rizwan has worked on various key positions in the federal and provincial governments including Additional Secretary Cabinet Division, Additional Secretary Establishment Division, Chairman Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), Managing Director Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC), Secretary Health, Government of Sindh, Managing Director Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, Government of Sindh and Deputy Commissioner, Hyderabad.

He brings with him vast professional experience in administration, finance, management, human resource, law enforcement and public procurement. The new Chairman PNSC held introductory meetings with senior officials and other staff members of the Corporation.

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Engro partners with IFC to explore opportunities

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Engro Corporation – widely regarded as Pakistan’s leading conglomerate – has signed an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to jointly co-develop opportunities, with IFC InfraVentures, in the Temperature Controlled Logistics industry of the country.

The partnership stems from Engro’s intent to study the logistics sector and devise integrated solutions for products that require temperature controlled logistics such as agricultural produce, medicines, and perishable food commodities amongst others. Experts estimate that present patterns in transport and trade logistics generate inefficiencies that cost Pakistan’s economy roughly 4 to 6 per cent of GDP every year. Furthermore, the country loses approximately 35% – 40% of its production of fruits, vegetables and dairy products due to poor post-harvest management practices.

Speaking at the occasion, Ghias Khan – President Engro Corporation said: “Pakistan’s performance on most logistical indicators, including the quality of trade and transport infrastructure, lags behind many emerging Asian countries. World Bank’s most recent Logistics Performance Index ranked Pakistan at number 68 out of a total of 160 surveyed countries. Pakistan continues to rank in the middle of the ranking despite its strategic geographic location, as compared to India at 35 and China at number 27.

It is, therefore, evident that our transport supply chain system is not providing the value-added services that have become the hallmark of modern logistics, such as multimodal systems that combine the strengths of different transport modes into one integrated solution. Our agreement with IFC InfraVentures is a testament to Engro’s continued commitment towards Pakistan’s growth and quest to solve meaningful problems that have a far reaching positive impact on our country.”

IFC’s Senior Manager for Infrastructure, Wiebke Schloemer, said, “Engro Corporation and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have partnered successfully on a number of key projects in Pakistan in the past. We are coming together again in a venture where our primary objective is to enhance efficiencies in the supply chain for perishable commodities and pave the way for Pakistan to reduce food losses and improve produce quality.”

Backed by International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s technical expertise, Engro aims to explore and develop an integrated platform aimed at providing warehousing and logistics solutions to several industries, such as agriculture, restaurants and healthcare, which require reliable TCL solution to operate effectively, while focusing on their core business.

Moreover, with the infrastructure development projects such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative and development of rail and road links with adjoining countries, Pakistan’s ability to move goods quickly, effectively and reliably across borders will make it more competitive in the global markets.

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Tokyo stocks close lower

TOKYO (AFP): Tokyo stocks closed lower on Monday after three days of gains, as cautious investors watched developments in the FBI probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election. The Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.49 percent, or 111.87 points, to 22,707.16. The broader Topix index fell 0.54 percent, or 9.66 points, to 1,786.87.

“Concerns over ‘Russiagate’ weighed on the market in late trade,” overwhelming a positive tone from progress in a US tax-cut bill and a cheaper yen against the dollar, SBI Securities said in a commentary. In an ominous turn for President Donald Trump, his former security advisor Michael Flynn on Friday admitted lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with a special prosecutor.

The Russia probe darkened what would otherwise have been a triumphant week for Trump as his key tax reform bill nears passage.

The dollar rose to 112.86 yen early Monday from 112.12 yen in New York Friday afternoon on the Senate’s passage of the most significant US tax overhaul in 31 years.

In stocks trade, Olympus dropped 4.66 percent to 4,390 yen and Hoya fell 1.75 percent to 5,431 yen after brokerages revised down their view on the firms. Game giant Nintendo lost 1.87 percent to 44,440 yen and Panasonic fell 1.24 percent to 1,629 yen.

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RCCI to organize CPEC conference in Beijing

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) is going to organize a CPEC Business Opportunities Conference in Beijing, China from January 29 to February 2.

The event will be attended by 200 businessmen from both the countries. This was stated by President RCCI Zahid Latif Khan after meeting with Overseas Chinese Association of Pakistan (OCAP) President Chen Zong Dong on Sunday.

Giving details, Zahid Latif Khan said the conference will provide an ideal platform for Pakistani businesses to identify and engage in joint ventures, technology transfer, Mergers & Acquisition, and other cooperation opportunities with Chinese companies mainly under the ambit of CPEC. “The conference will organize dialogue of Leaders of Business Community with representatives of Government(s) to know their perspectives of CPEC”.

RCCI chief said the conference will pave the way in bridging the gap between business communities of Pakistan and China and create new business opportunities

RCCI will also facilitate MOU signings between the respective companies at the conference, he added.

On this occasion, Chen Zong Dong lauded the RCCI’s efforts in facilitating traders and promoting trade activities in the country. He said this conference would serve as a platform to strengthen the linkages between the trader communities of both the countries. This will also create and strengthen a network of Public-Private sectors of Pakistan and China and this will be a forum for the Chinese businessmen who were looking forward to penetrate in Pakistani markets under the umbrella of CPEC, he further added.

The five day conference aimed at monitoring the developments with an eye towards ensuring that business related policies between Pakistan and China, including the areas of Industrialization, Exports, Trade Relations, Foreign Investment, Energy Sector are business friendly and contribute toward strengthening the Public-Private sector.

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Fertilisers available in abundance

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Diammonium phosphate (DAP), Urea and all other fertiliser stocks are available in sufficient quantity to meet the demand of farmers in Punjab.

A spokesman for the Punjab Agriculture Department said this here on Sunday.

The district government has ordered the fertiliser dealers to display prices of fertilisers and sell the commodity as per prices, announced by the government.

Farmers should not pay more for fertilisers and they also should get receipt from dealers while purchasing fertiliser bags.

If farmers have any complaint regarding fertilisers, they should make a call to Punjab Agriculture Helpline on 0800-15000 or 0800-29000 for redress of their grievances. Farmers may contact Directorate General of Agriculture (Ext & AR) on 042-99200749 or 042-99203709 for registration of their complaint regarding fertiliser prices, he added.

He said that the Punjab government was striving to keep the prices of fertilisers under control in the interest of farming community and stakeholders.

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Brexit supporters list demands for ‘divorce bill’ talks

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: Leading Brexit supporters have urged the prime minister not to settle the UK’s “divorce bill” unless the EU agrees to a series of conditions.

The Leave Means Leave group, which includes ex-cabinet ministers, says Brussels must end the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over the UK.

It also wants freedom of movement to the UK for EU citizens to stop when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

Theresa May is to hold more meetings next week on the terms of the UK exit.

The UK is hoping to move on to talking about trade but the EU will only do this when it deems “sufficient progress” has been made on three areas – the so-called divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit and the Irish border.

The prime minister has said discussions were continuing over the amount the UK will pay to meet obligations arising from its membership but has already indicated ECJ rulings will apply during a planned two-year transition period.

Signatories of the Leave Means Leave letter to the prime minister include former Tory cabinet ministers Owen Paterson and John Redwood, senior Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg, Labour MP Graham Stringer, and entrepreneurs such as Luke Johnson, Tim Martin and Peter Hargreaves.

They say Mrs May should make clear to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier “that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

The UK should be prepared to revert to World Trade Organisation terms if a future free trade agreement with the EU is not secured, they add.

Leave Means Leave says the UK should not make any payment to Brussels unless the conditions are met.

These also include the UK and the EU agreeing a reciprocal free trade deal without tariffs by the end of March next year and an assurance that no new EU regulations should apply after March 2019.

“If EU negotiators agree to these criteria during negotiations in December, then Britain should make a reasonable, realistic and not extortionate goodwill payment,” the letter says.

Last week it was reported that the UK has offered a larger potential “divorce bill” to the EU – which could be worth up to 50bn euros (£44bn).

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reports that Sir Richard Aikens, a former Court of Appeal judge, has written to Mrs May urging her not to accept a Brexit deal which could see the European Court of Justice continue to issue rulings binding on UK courts.

In an article in the Telegraph, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also says such a plan would be “quite unacceptable… and put the UK in the position of ceding power to a foreign court on which it has no representation to rule on those who would and should normally have their rights adjudicated by British courts”.

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Chinese businessmen want joint ventures with Pakistan

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Chinese entrepreneurs on Saturday have expressed their desire to enter into joint ventures and investment in Pakistan in areas of their interest.

The delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs led by Adven Zhu, Managing Director, Suzhou China Aviation Technology Equipment Co. Ltd representing various sectors including infrastructure development, construction of roads, bridges, high rise buildings, IT, manufacturing of mechanical products, cold-bend steel, elevator components, mechanical components, plastic injections, furniture and tourism visited Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) here, said a statement issued on Saturday.

Speaking at the occasion, Adven Zhu said that this was their first visit to Pakistan and they found Pakistan a potential market for business and investment it has a big consumer market and strategic geographic location.

He said that the Chinese delegation members have good expertise and technology to build high rise buildings and were interested to make some useful contribution in Pakistani in this area.

He said that the private sectors of both countries should develop close cooperation to exploit all untapped areas of mutual collaboration.

Speaking at the occasion, President ICCI Sheikh Amir Waheedsaid China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has opened new avenues for long term cooperation between China and Pakistan and stressed that private sectors of both countries should enhance interactions to explore match makings in CPEC and other developmental projects in Pakistan.

He said that many sectors of Pakistan’s economy including infrastructure development, high rise buildings, aviation, steel, aluminum, all sorts of machinery and parts, manufacturing of plastic products, construction and real estate, furniture, hardware, tourism and others were opened for foreign investors and urged that Chinese investors should explore these potential sectors for joint ventures and investment in Pakistan.

He said that Chinese investors should bring technology and machinery to Pakistan to set up manufacturing plants. He said by investing in Pakistan, Chinese investors would be in a better position to enhance exports to South & Central Asia, Middle East, Europe and many other potential markets.





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Samsung to chase big M&A deals

HELSINKI (Reuters): Samsung Electronics’ $8 billion purchase of automotive and audio electronics company Harman has given the technology conglomerate confidence to chase more big deals, its strategy chief said.

Young Sohn, the South Korean company’s Silicon Valley-based president and chief strategy officer, said he was keen for world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions to expand in automotive markets, digital health and industrial automation.

Samsung, which this year surpassed Intel to become the world’s biggest semiconductors manufacturer, has signaled its appetite for dealmaking over the past year, saying it was seeking businesses to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

However, it has provided few details on sectors it is targeting in its push for mergers and acquisitions.

“We are committed to using M&A as our tool, (and) I think the Harmon acquisition helped us to have more confidence,” Sohn told Reuters on the sidelines of the Slush tech start-up festival in Helsinki.

“I believe we can do lot more going forward.”

Sohn appeared to dismiss the potential for Samsung to take part in further consolidation in semiconductors or the smartphone markets, where it is also a leading player, suggesting the company is focused on organic growth strategies in these areas.

In September Sohn said Samsung aimed to become a major player in autonomous driving, building on its acquisition of auto parts supplier Harman and its pole position in mobile communications markets.

Asked to spell out Samsung’s potential dealmaking priorities for 2018, he said the company would continue to invest in expanding its automotive business.

Another category he singled out as “an area of opportunity” was digital health, specifically preventive health and related technologies.

Finally, in business software, he said Samsung is looking at companies in the areas of industrial internet, automation, networking, data transmission and security.

“We are a very careful and conservative company, so we will do it where it makes sense,” Sohn said, adding that it would also look for smaller bolt-on technology deals.


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Sale of the century $300-billion Saudi state sell-off moves slowly

Dubai/Riyadh (Gulf News): Saudi Arabia’s $300-billion (Dh1.1 trillion) privatisation programme was billed as the sale of the century when Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman unveiled his plan to great fanfare. Nineteen months later, it is moving at a snail’s pace, bankers, investors and analysts familiar with the process say.

The main problems they cite are heavy bureaucracy, an inadequate legal framework, frequent changes of priority in government departments and fatigue among investors.

Some also blame a wait-and-see approach among many investors due to uncertainty about the fallout from an anti-corruption campaign in which dozens of royal family members, ministers and senior officials were rounded up in early November.

The centrepiece listing of state oil company Saudi Aramco — expected alone to raise up to $100 billion — is on track to go ahead next year, Prince Mohammad told Reuters in October. However, Riyadh has yet to select any exchange abroad that will handle — along with the Saudi market — what would be the biggest share flotation in history.

Sectors where the privatisation process has been slow include grains, the postal service and health care.

“It’s going to take longer [than many expected],” a Saudi banker who has worked on transactions told Reuters. “There are headwinds from the shifting of priorities in government and at a micro-level as these are old institutions that have often never kept books and are not up to the rigours of privatisation.” The sell-off is a cornerstone of Prince Mohammad’s Vision 2030 plan to bring in fresh revenue and diversify the economy — which is recession and blighted by high unemployment — away from energy exports in an era of low oil prices.

But the bankers, investors and analysts are expressing concerns including over the lack of a regulatory framework to assure would-be shareholders about how much control foreign companies could gain as a result of the stake sales, including the right to lay off staff.

Vice Minister for Economy and Planning, Mohammad Al Tuwaijri told Reuters in April that, excluding Aramco, the government aimed to make $200 billion by putting large parts of the Saudi economy in private hands.

The Ministry of Economy and Planning did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

The sell-off, including 5 per cent of Aramco, is intended to improve state finances. The government posted a $79 billion deficit last year.

However, the record is patchy in the four sectors that Tuwaijri had highlighted as priorities for this year: grain silos, sports, electricity generation and water provision.

Banks recently submitted bids to advise on the privatisation of Saline Water Conversion Corporation’s $7.2 billion Ras Al Khair desalination and power plant. But there has been less progress in the other three sectors.

Saudi Arabia’s deputy electricity minister said in October he aimed for progress in privatising the power sector in 2018, after “some developments required us to wait”.

Prospective bidders for the kingdom’s state-owned grain mills have complained of an unwieldy sale process and onerous ownership rules.

Elsewhere, the Ministry of Health has put on hold its tender seeking financial advisers for the privatisation of 55 primary health-care units in Riyadh, after receiving their bids in April, a financial source familiar with the matter said.

It then issued a new tender to seek a technical adviser on the expected costs and demand linked to the privatisation, the source said.

The Ministry of Health did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

“Compared with many of its neighbours, Saudi Arabia has only limited experience in terms of privatisations, and still lacks an adequate regulatory framework,” said Raphaele Auberty, a BMI Research risk analyst for the Middle East and Africa.

Shortcomings include the absence of a framework for large-scale public-private partnership projects and a bankruptcy law, said Karen Young, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

Saudi Post Corp’s privatisation, which had at one stage been earmarked to begin early this year, has been shelved for the time being.