Morocco to begin gradual liberalisation of dirham

RABAT (AFP): Morocco will start a gradual and controlled liberalisation of its currency the dirham from Monday, Prime Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani said after a cabinet meeting. The North African country has had a fixed exchange rate regime for the dirham since the 1970s. It is pegged to the euro and the dollar. Othmani spoke to AFP on Friday after a cabinet meeting during which the long-expected decision was taken. The process of moving towards what the authorities call a "flexible exchange rate" had been expected to begin in July after a recommendation by the International Monetary Fund. But the move was delayed with the government arguing that it needed more time to study the procedure. Officials have stressed that there would be no devaluation of the dirham. The finance ministry said in a statement on Friday that Bank Al-Maghrib, the country's central bank, will "continue to intervene on the exchange market to ensure liquidity".

The World Bank said in a report in April that the "gradual move to a more flexible exchange rate regime" should "help strengthen Morocco's competitiveness".

It said the outlook for the country's economy was expected to improve, provided that the government remains committed to "pursuing prudent macroeconomic policies and implementing structural reform".

Earlier this year, Moroccan media said full liberalisation of the dirham would take up to 15 years.

 Beijing Central Business District ranks ninth in the world

BEIJING (INP): Beijing Central Business District (CBD) ranks ninth among all metropolitan central business districts around the world and the first in China, according to a report on the attractiveness of the major global CBDs released on the 2017 Annual Conference of World CBD Alliance. The CBD will launch a connective mechanism to bridge the credit evaluation system and the building management system, which will enable regulations on business conduct and minimize financial risks for companies within the area, said the district’s authorities at a meeting in Chaoyang District. In 2017, the science and technology service and the cultural creativity industry has accounted for 15 percent of the CBD's economic volume, with 6,000 new technology service companies registered in the business district. The CBD will continue its strict regulation on the business conducts of the registered companies in 2018, said Guo Liang, deputy director of the Beijing CBD Administrative Committee.

The business district has already built a credit evaluation system, embedding a credit risk assessment model, which enables the real-time evaluation of enterprises' risks.

It will also develop a smart building brand, explore new models of regional economic transformation and upgrading, and promote the quality and efficiency of industrial space in the future.

The CBD Administrative Committee will also work with the sub-district office, transport department and other sectors to explore new modes of regional traffic improvement. Meanwhile, the committee will better use the platforms, including the business association and business cultural activities, to improve the quality of human resources and attract more talents to the business district to contribute to the construction of Beijing as the center for international trade.

 Iran to replace eco-unfriendly fuels with gas as power plants' feedstock

TEHRAN (NNI): Iran aims to use gas as feedstock instead of fuels like mazut to generate power by March 2018, Financial Tribune reported on Saturday. "Mazut, an eco-unfriendly fuel, accounted for 45 percent of Iran's power plant feedstock in 2013, but declined to 8 percent in 2015, and plans are underway to put an end to it in the shortest possible time," Arash Kordi, the managing director of Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company was quoted as saying. "Power plants are moving towards replacing polluting fuels with natural gas as a cleaner energy resource," he said. Over the past years, the government has instructed power plants and refineries to use gas instead of polluting feedstock as the gas output increases in the country's South Pars Gas field, Kordi said. "Power plants and other major fuel consuming industries have dramatically cut down on consumption of liquid fuel, especially mazut and diesel, over the past 18 months," the official said.

The National Iranian Gas Company aims to increase the volume of natural gas as feedstock to power stations to 68 billion cubic meters by March 2018. The company provided 86 power plants with 62 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the previous Iranian fiscal year that ended in March 2017.

 PFC delegation leaves for Italy to explore furniture market

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) delegation left on Saturday for Italy to promote trade links via mutual collaboration between Pakistani and Italian business community through business-to-business (B2B) meetings after attending 3-day international trade fair Heimtextil 2018 at Frankfurt (Germany). The delegation, headed by its chief Mian Muhammad Kashif Ashfaq, will discuss the possibility of enhancing mutual trade followed by B2B meetings at Associazione Italiana d’Ingegneria Economica (AICE) in Milan and Cassa Padana Brescia. The frequency of visits between the two countries has witnessed a rise in recent years which is indicative of further deepening of ties between the two countries. He said that Pakistan and Italy had good relationship in a variety of fields and it was now time to further strengthen it. He said the delegation would meet officials of government agencies, leading companies and foreign trade agencies to explore new avenues of mutual co-operation in trade and commerce.