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S. Korea resumes Iranian oil imports after five months

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SEJONG: South Korean companies imported US$101.2 million worth of Iranian crude last month, the first such move in five months, data showed Tuesday.

The January figure represents less than one-fifth of $539 million, the average monthly Iranian crude oil imports for the first seven months of 2018, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

South Korean companies stopped importing Iranian crude oil in September last year, two months before the United States reinstated all sanctions against Tehran after lifting restrictions following the 2015 landmark nuclear deal.

Still, the U.S. has allowed South Korea and seven other countries to continue to buy Iranian oil over the next six months. South Korea is the third-largest buyer of Iranian oil.

South Korean refiners and chemical firms had relied heavily on Iranian condensate for production of various petrochemical products thanks to a stable supply and price competitiveness.

Naphtha, a key raw material for petrochemicals, is derived from condensate.

Asia

Tokyo stocks open higher!

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Tokyo stocks gain on bargain-hunting

TOKYO: Stocks opened here higher today, tracking gains on Wall Street due to optimism over US-China trade talks, with investors closely eyeing the US Federal Reserve’s meeting later this week.
The Nikkei 225 index added 0.65 percent, or 139.64 points, to 21,590.49 in early trade, while the broader Topix index climbed 0.43 percent, or 6.82 points, to 1,609.45.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tajikistan intends to enhance trade volume with Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: Tajikistani investors and business community will take advantage of package of incentives offered to foreign investors by Prime Minister Imran Khan and this would help both the countries to take bilateral trade to $500 million per annum.

A 18-member high-level Tajikistan delegation of investors and businessmen led by Chairman Union of Private Sector Development of Tajikistan Radzhabov Fayzali Kurbonalievich called on Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq on Monday at PFC headquarter,” says a press release issued here on Monday.

Speaking on the occasion leader of the delegation said Tajikistan was keen to promote bilateral trade with Pakistan as both countries have huge potential to enhance trade, joint ventures and investment in different fields.

He said they were here in Pakistan to explore new vistas in investment sector besides giving new impetus to their ties through enhanced cooperation in diversified areas, including trade, energy, furniture, garments, cotton, connectivity, health, education and culture.

He urged that Pakistani business community should become more proactive to promote business relations with Tajik counterparts as both countries have great potential for mutual cooperation.

He said that Pakistan could export many products to Tajikistan including furniture, sugar, textiles, cement, sports goods, surgical instruments, pharmaceuticals and leather products and stressed that Pakistani exporters should step up efforts to exploit these business opportunities.

Radzhabov Fayzali said that investors of China and other countries were taking active part in Tajik market and emphasized that Pakistani investors should also focus on Tajikistan to get easy access to huge market of Central Asia.

Welcoming the delegation, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq said that Tajikistan was a gateway for Central Asia and Pakistan wanted to develop close cooperation with it in furniture and garments fields.

He said, “We are living in the age of connectivity and network. This is an age where we need to explore the opportunity for connectivity and progress.

In our region we have a lot of investment prospects and opportunities. In the 21st Century, Asia will contribute 52% to GDP of the world. This will create opportunities for global economy for growth and investment.”

Mian Kashif said Pakistan’s furniture industry has the potential to dominate global markets with its innovative design and can take this to new height joining hands with their counterparts in Tajikistan.

He said a delegation of PFC would also visit to Tajikistan to explore new investment avenues by sharing their vision, expertise for formulation of future policies, economic studies and project-specific reports in addition to promotional efforts.

He said that the best quality Pakistani products especially furniture are comparatively much economical compared with other countries.

He also appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan for giving special attention to revive and boost our furniture sector and increase volume of our exports along with exploring new international markets.

“Hence we are more than eagre to expand the volume of trade between friendly countries in the region,” he added.

Mian Kashif Ashfaq who also briefed the delegation about the prospective of foreign investment in garment industry and offered them all available facilities to explore more opportunities in furniture and garment sector.

Later delegation visited the Chenone store Gulberg and evinced keen interest in various latest designs of garments and furniture.

 

 

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Spend less on defence and more on human development, World Bank tells Pakistan

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WB urged to finance projects in Pakistan's underdeveloped areas

ISLAMABAD: If Pakistan wants to be a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100, it has to reduce its population growth rate by half and more than double its spending on education and healthcare, World Bank said in its latest policy report ‘[email protected]: Shaping The Future’.

The global lender has expressed its concerns on the ever increasing defence expenditures in the South Asia region amid recent tensions between India and Pakistan.

“India’s defence expenditures are seven times higher than Pakistan’s while Pakistan spends almost 70% of its revenues on military and interest spending,” says WB.

The report pointed out that the smaller size of Pakistan’s economy vis-à-vis India means that, although as a share of GDP military spending is significantly higher than India’s, in absolute terms it is vastly outspent by India.

“Pakistan has allocated a large amount of resources to developing and maintaining strong military capabilities. Pakistan’s spending on its military detracts from how much it can spend on other development priorities,” it says.

Strained regional relations affect trade, opportunities for regional cooperation and countries’ domestic policies.

Stronger regional relations can support Pakistan’s economic transformation and security objectives, increasing its leverage to resolve disputes with its neighbours and freeing resources for public investment in economic and human development, it elaborated.

“Peace is the best driver for economic growth and shared prosperity. We have seen how persisting conflicts can damage society, community and the economy as a whole. We believe peace brings economic dividends for a country and I think those kind of dividends can help Pakistan towards it two trillion dollar economy by 2047,” World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan told SAMAA Digital on the eve of the report launch in Islamabad.

Previous efforts to normalise relations in the region have had missed results and Pakistan cannot reduce tensions in the region on its own; other countries also need to play their part, said the WB report.

Today Pakistan’s economy is relatively closed to global and regional markets, limiting its ability to benefit from its pivotal geographical situation, said the report.

Pakistan’s average economic growth rate has been declining over the past 30 to 40 years, with periods of accelerating growth usually followed by a crisis, mentioned in the report.

Where else do we need to improve?

The report seeks to identify the main changes that will be necessary if Pakistan is to become a strong upper middle-income country by 2047. It identifies seven areas of reforms. On top of these reforms lies a proposal to reduce the country’s fertility rate to 1.2% by 2047, down from 2.4% as of 2017.

“Reduce fertility rates through the implementation of comprehensive awareness programs to encourage informed decisions on parenthood, including information on birth control, reproductive health, young women’s health and child development through health, nutrition and stimulation,” the report said.

The WB also recommends the government achieve efficiencies on public spending. After achieving higher fiscal space, Pakistan should increase spending on health to 2% of the GDP, up from less than 1% as of now. It also suggests improving spending on education to 5% of the GDP from the current 2%.

Pakistan has several difficult decisions to make, says the Washington-based think tank. Despite a challenging start and a complex political history, Pakistan’s economy grew fast in its earlier years, improving the lives of its citizens. “Pakistan was considered an example of successful development in its first 30 years. This has since changed, and Pakistan is struggling to keep pace with the growth and transformation of its peers,” it says.

Among other reforms, WB recommends a tax-to-GDP ratio of 20% by 2030, up from the current 13%. Reform tax administration, making systems efficient and people friendly, it says.  Similarly, it wants to see Pakistan at number 50 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking come 2023. This can be done by reducing red tape and introducing legal reforms.

The WB says Pakistan should open its market for regional trade by adopting a simple, transparent tariff structure with reduced tariffs and clear and transparent rules and support greater integration efforts within the South Asia region. Greater regional integration can take Pakistan’s trade with its neighbors to $58 billion in the next 10 years from $18.5 billion (as of 2015).

The decisions Pakistan will take over the next decade will determine its future, WB says raising some pressing questions: will Pakistan rise to the challenges ahead and transform its economy? Or will Pakistan continue with the mixed record of reform implementation, failing to address the key constraints to growth, while another generation of Pakistanis sees limited welfare improvements?

The report and the relevant policy note provide a vision of the type of economy that Pakistan could have by 2047. The report illustrates the type of changes that are possible, and it discusses a limited number of priority reforms that will be necessary to address the most pressing constraints to accelerating and sustaining growth.

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