SECP to set up company registration office in GB

ISLAMABAD (Staff Reporter): The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is setting up its Company Registration Office (CRO) in Gilgit-Baltistan. The government of Gilgit-Baltistan and the federal government have already granted their approval to it. The SECP believes that the opening of CRO in Gilgit-Baltistan will facilitate the local business community, as well as all the business entities that are at present operating in Gilgit-Baltistan and will encourage business activities in the region. Furthermore, the Gilgit-Baltistan CRO will also help the local business community to benefit from the e-Services facility introduced by the SECP in 2008.

The SECP is committed to increasing corporatization and documentation of economy besides expanding the outreach of the capital market across the country.

Oil falls further on rising US stockpiles

LONDON (AFP): Oil prices extended losses Thursday after a rise in US commercial crude reserves, while traders turned cautious before this weekend's crunch producers' meeting. A warning by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that the world remains oversupplied also dampened sentiment as key producer nations prepared to gather in Doha for Sunday's talks on freezing output. At about 1030 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May was down nine cents at $41.67 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for June delivery dipped 11 cents to $44.07 a barrel compared with Wednesday's close.

Traders will closely watch Sunday's talks after prices slumped by about three quarters to below $30 between mid-2014 and February this year on the back of the global supply glut and overproduction.

While they have edged back up recently, some analysts warn the oil market is likely to remain volatile for some time.

On Thursday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the global glut is set to ease by year's end, but warned that any potential production freeze agreed in Doha would only have a "limited" impact on supplies.

Ahead of the highly anticipated Doha talks, the 29-nation IEA said the oil market, which for months has been depressed by a vast oversupply, was expected to practically balance out in the second half of the year.

Prices shot to 2016 highs on Tuesday on the back of news that OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC producer Russia had reached a consensus to freeze output, stoking hopes of a wider deal in Doha.

"As a lot of optimism has been priced in ahead of the freeze meeting, traders shall remain cautious to the possible 'sell on news' next week," said Margaret Yang, an analyst with CMC Markets in Singapore.

EY oil and gas analyst Sanjeev Gupta said the "bearish" US inventory data helped push down prices as it signals weaker demand in the world's top oil consumer.

"In the meantime, China's first-quarter economic data due tomorrow (Friday) and results of the Doha meeting will set the tone for near-term price development," Gupta told AFP.

Crude futures fell Wednesday but remained close to 2016 highs as traders weighed a jump in US crude inventories and a fall in US production.

The US Energy Information Administration said crude stockpiles jumped 6.6 million barrels last week -- or more than six times what analysts had expected.

Rising American oil reserves tend to send prices sliding because they indicate weaker demand in the world's top crude consuming nation.

OPEC, in its April report on Wednesday, trimmed its forecast for global oil demand growth this year and warned of possible further downgrades.

While expectations of an output freeze had helped prices, the group cautioned that "hurdles prevail as oversupply persists and inventories remain high".

PTCL records robust performance in Q1 2016

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) Thursday announced its financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2016 in its Board of Directors meeting held at Islamabad. PTCL Group earned Rs 29.3 billion revenue during the quarter whereas PTCL’s revenues were Rs 18.0 billion. Data revenues increased compared to the same period last year. The company’s profitability remained stable despite competition. Net profit of the company stood at Rs 3.1 billion which was 27% higher compared to Rs. 2.5 billion of same period last year. Likewise, PTCL Group’s profitability also increased significantly.

Saarc countries need to enhancess intra-regional trade

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that despite a slowdown and bleak forecasts for the international trade in the near future SAARC countries can benefit by enhancing intra-region trade. He said that non-tariff barriers in the intra-region trade must be brought down to pursue greater economic integration in the region. The minister was talking to the representatives of the SAARC Chambers of Commerce & Industry (SAARC CCI), led by its President Suraj Vaidya. Dastgir said that other regional trading blocs like European Union, Mercosur, ASEAN etc are deeply integrated and enjoy high percentage of trade within region as compared to SAARC.

He was of the view that trade enhancement in the region requires bolder initiatives from all the partners and private business sector has to be more vocal convey their message of openness in trade across.

The minister said that Pakistan implemented numerous trade facilitation measures to support Afghan transit trade which has resulted in the increase in Afghan Transit trade from Pakistan in terms of the containers traded. Similarly, Pakistan held an understanding with Sri Lanka to further expand the bilateral Free Trade Agreement which will boost the bilateral trade, he said.

The representatives of the SAARC Chambers called on the minister along with the Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Chairman Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry Rauf Alam and other members of business community.

Talking at the occasion, Vaidya said that the SAARC Chambers has pinned its hopes of progress in economic integration on the upcoming SAARC Summit to be held in Pakistan later this year. He appreciated the Government of Pakistan’s continuous and unending endeavors towards furthering economic integration in the region.

He said that the world is witness to the fact that economic cooperation and foreign trade has taken precedence over all other issues. He apprised the Minister that SAARC CCI is holding a round of meetings with the Governments in SAARC to convince then to improve trade facilitation and trade liberalization in the region.

ICCI shows concerns over rising trade deficit

ISLAMABAD (INP): The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has shown concerns over the rising trade deficit of the country which has risen by 5.5% to $16.9 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year and called upon the government to focus on promoting intra-regional trade. Atif Ikram Sheikh, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Thursday said that many regional economic blocks were reaping rich benefits by promoting intraregional trade but the South Asia was the least integrated region as its intraregional trade was just 5% of its total trade as compared with 58% in EU, 52% in NAFTA and 26% in ASEAN.

He said if tariffs and non-tariff barriers were removed, South Asia could witness significant jump in regional trade.

He identified complex customs procedures & quality standard regulations, inefficient transport arrangements, institutional incapacities, different kinds of standardization and certification processes, unhealthy duty structure, packaging/labeling requirements, long negative lists and political factors as the major non-tariff barriers in South Asian countries that needed urgent redress to pave way for enhanced regional trade.

The ICCI President said intraregional trade was beneficial for all regional countries as it was more price-competitive compared to importing from other countries. He urged that Pakistan should work with South Asian countries to harmonize and regulate customers procedures and remove all NTBs.

He said removal of NTBs and other infrastructure related issues deterring regional trade would be a win-win situation for all regional countries as it would enhance the welfare and prosperity of their producers and consumers.

He said South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement was signed to facilitate free trade among South Asian countries, but its weak enforcement has deprived the people of this region from its positive impact on employment, income opportunities and cheap products.

He was of the view that promoting intraregional trade would further contribute in expanding exports and increasing regional growth. All these efforts would also strengthen global integration of the South Asian countries and lead to their better economic growth. He stressed that all possible efforts should be made to realize untapped trade potential of this region.