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Saudi Crown Prince arrives on historic visit to the region! (TEXT AND VIDEO)

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RAWALPINDI:  The 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has arrived here at  PAF Base Nur Khan Chaklala, was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was presented a guard of honor by a smartly turned-out contingent drawn from three services of Pakistan’s armed forces at an official welcome ceremony held here at the Prime Minister House on Sunday evening. The Saudi Crown Prince, who arrived here on a two-day visit, was driven by Prime Minister Imran Khan from the Nur Khan Airbase to the PM House, where he reviewed the guard of honor. The national anthems of the two countries were also played. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan introduced their respective delegations to each other. The Crown Prince also planted a sapling at the lawns of the PM House. Earlier the Crown Prince was accorded a rousing red-carpet welcome as he arrived on a two-day visit to Pakistan at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Led by Imran Khan, the federal cabinet warmly received the Saudi Crown Prince upon arrival at the Nur Khan Airbase. The three services chiefs and senior Pakistani and Saudi officials were also present. The Crown Prince, accompanied by a high-powered delegation including members of the Saudi Royal Family, key ministers, and leading businessmen, was given a 21-gun salute as he alighted from his airplane at the airbase. A formation of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 and JF-17 Thunder aircraft escorted the airplane of Saudi Crown Prince as it entered the Pakistani airspace. Prime Minister Imran Khan later drove the Saudi Crown Prince to the PM House, where an official welcome ceremony was awaiting the Royal dignitary. During his two-day stay, Prince Mohammed bin Salman will call on President Dr. Arif Alvi and also meet the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff.  The Saudi Crown Prince, who also holds portfolios of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, would have discussions with the leadership of Pakistan to further cement the brotherly ties between the two countries, besides deliberating upon a wide range of issues of mutual interest.

Royal aircraft carrying the Crown Prince was escorted by formations of PAF’s  JF-17 and F-16s as soon it entered the Pak airspace.

RAWALPINDI: Children in traditional dress snapped presenting bouquets to the guest. 

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Imran Khan’s Cabinet Members and COAS were present at the airport to receive the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The PM drove the guest to the PM house where guard of honor awaited the Crown Prince.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a one-to-one meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman here at the Prime Minister House on Sunday. The meeting was followed by the inaugural session of Supreme Coordination Council, co-chaired by the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince, a Foreign Office statement said. The high-powered Supreme Coordination Council was proposed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia in October last year. The objective to put in place a high-level institutional mechanism was to fast track decisions in key areas of bilateral cooperation and for close monitoring of their implementation. The Coordination Council includes respective ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Defense Production, Finance, Energy, Petroleum, Water Resources, Information, Culture, Interior, Commerce, Trade and Investment and Human Resources of both countries. The Council would cover areas under three pillars: political and security, economic, and social and culture. Under the Supreme Coordination Council, a steering committee and joint working groups have been set up at ministerial and senior officials’ levels, to develop frameworks of cooperation in specific projects and submit recommendations to the respective ministers. The functioning of the Supreme Council would be coordinated by the ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries. It would meet annually in Riyadh and Islamabad alternately.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed several agreements and Memorandums of Understanding in different sectors. The signing ceremony was held Prime Minister House in Islamabad tonight. The sectors include cooperation in the production of electricity, the establishment of refinery petrochemical plant, promotion of sports and technical assistance in the standardization sector. Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad Bin Salman, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, ministers of both countries and delegations also attended the ceremony.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and PM Imran Khan seen witnessing the signing of MoUs.

Portraits of the Saudi King, visiting Crown Prince, PM & President of Pakistan. 

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Earlier, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir arrived here who was received by his counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Conspicious among othree there were Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki and Pakistan’s Ambassador in Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz. 

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Meanwhile, Saudi power producing company ACWA Power has expressed its willingness to invest around 4 billion dollars in Pakistan’s renewable energy sector. The intention to this regard was expressed during a meeting between a Saudi investors’ delegation led by ACWA Power Chairman Mohammad A Abunayyan and the Pakistani side headed by Minister for Finance Asad Umar in Islamabad. Speaking on the occasion, Mohammad A Abunayyan said the ACWA Power is a developer, investor, and co-owner of a portfolio of power generation and desalinated water production plants in countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Southern Africa, and South East Asian region. He said his company is keen to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector, particularly in renewable energy as there is a huge investment opportunity for production of cheap energy to fulfill the growing local demand. Welcoming the Saudi delegation, Finance Minister Asad Umar lauded the beginning of renewed relationships between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Later, talking to media persons, the Finance Minister said the visit of Saudi Crown Prince would help open new avenues of bilateral trade and investment. He said the existing bilateral economic relations do not reflect the true potential. However, after the visit, a huge investment was expected from Saudi Arabia which would help further strengthen the trade ties between the two countries.

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Pakistan’s highest civil award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, will be conferred on the Crown Prince in an investiture ceremony at the presidency tomorrow (Monday). From Pakistan, the Crown Prince will go to India, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

 

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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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