PFC to display furniture items at Mexican Int’l Furniture Fair

LAHORE (INP): Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) will display Pakistani handmade world class traditional furniture products in Mexican International Furniture Fair going to be held from May 23. This was decided at a board of directors meeting held under the chair of PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq here on Monday. He said there is no doubt that Pakistan must explore trade and investment opportunities in North American countries including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. He said all PFC directors discussed in details about the possibility of enhancing furniture trade in Latin America and we are all agreed that there is a great scope for Pakistani handmade furniture in Mexico. “We are talking about a huge market - 120 million people. The average age of youth in this region is around 25 or 26, so in a few years those people will make the biggest furniture purchases ever," he observed. He further said Pakistan will have to face tough competition in furniture markets if our furniture exporters want to hit Mexican markets.

He said the biggest challenge is present in form of China over there as China’s furniture products are cheaper than us but we can compete with China in traditional furniture being produced in sub-continent.

Mian Kashif said Mexico and Pakistan have good prospects for improving trade and exports and businessmen of both countries should be encouraged to take more initiatives for tapping all untapped areas of mutual cooperation especially in furniture sector. He said Mexican entrepreneurs are interested to know about Pakistan’s business procedures for setting up new businesses and potential areas of investment in Pakistan including in the area of furniture.

He said that Pak-Mexico bilateral trade of about $200 million per annum does not reflect true potential and both countries have great potential to improve trade and broaden cooperation in multiple areas.

He said our trade is quite narrow as Pakistan exports to Mexico some traditional goods such as textiles, garments, rice, surgical equipment, sports equipment and clothing while Mexico exports to Pakistan iron and steel products, wood pulp, capital goods and agricultural products. Both countries should make efforts to diversify bilateral trade by focusing on non-traditional items especially furniture products.

He highlighted Pakistan’s interest in several initiatives including a bilateral investment treaty and free trade agreement (FTA).He said strong trade relations would provide enhanced regional access to both countries as Pakistan is a gateway for Central Asia and Mexico could provide Pakistan better access to North American countries.

He said He said many countries have shown interest in Pakistani Furniture; they like our hand-carved designs on furniture with classic and fine finishing and similar designs could be replicated in the North American furniture markets.

PARC, Engro Fertilizers sign MoU to promote technical cooperation

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and Engro Fertilizers Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding in order to promote technical cooperation under Engro’s Rahbar Programme for the uplift of agriculture sector of the country. Manager Public Affairs Engro Shahbaz A. Khan and Chairman PARC Dr Yousuf Zafar signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations, said a press release received here on Monday. Under the agreement, PARC will provide technical cooperation to Engro Fertilizers Limited, which has initiated an agriculture uplift pilot program including farmer advisory services and crop planning to enhance per acre crop output. PARC and Engro agreed to work with close collaboration in selected districts of Sindh and Punjab provinces for identification and promotion of alternate cropping patterns in the existing rice-wheat belts for crop diversification.

They also agreed for developing advanced agricultural interventions in selected crops for cost efficiency and yield enhancement and establishing better academia–industry and research links.

Engro Fertilizers Limited is a subsidiary of Engro Corporation and a renowned name in Pakistan’s fertilizer industry and trading on the stock market. Engro holds a vast, nationwide production and marketing infrastructure and produces leading fertilizer brands optimized for local cultivation needs and demand.

Engro is also a leading importer and seller of Phosphate products, which are marketed extensively across Pakistan as phospatic fertilizers.

Speaking on the occasion Shahbaz A. Khan said that under the agreement both the departments would appoint focal persons who would hold periodic meetings to work-out the details of the program.

P@SHA wins major government incentives for IT industry

KARACHI (APP): The Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) has won a major incentives package for the IT industry, announced personally by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi recently. Chairman P@sha, Barkan Saeed and its secretary general Shehryar Hydri in a joint press statement here on Monday said the policy announcement covered a wide range of support mechanisms. The government incentives to boost the IT sector, both for the export and domestic markets, were said to include extension of the tax holiday on IT exports from 2019 to 2025; 5% cash reward on IT exports (similar to rewards for other industries such as textile) and sales tax of 5% on ITeS within the federal areas. Special economic zones (SEZs) for the tech sector to be defined by the BOI and MoITT and commercial loans for tech companies at preferential rates were said to be also among the essential components of the package.

Acknowledging that announcement was made at a critical time, Barkan Saeed said that these key demands of the industry had long been under consideration, however, it was PML-N government that realized the relevance of these demands.

The IT industry is the fastest growing sector of Pakistan economy, with annual growth rates in excess of 30% and expected to double in size over the next three to four years, he said mentioning that exports have already crossed $2.5 billion, which account for 12% of Pakistan's total exports, thus making it a key component of the balance of trade.

"This is a perfect example of our industry working closely with the government to achieve a common goal that is the long term growth of our economy.

AIIB making efforts to assist infrastructure projects in South Asia: Official

MUMBAI (NNI): The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is making efforts to help mobilize more finance for infrastructure projects in South Asia, AIIB Vice President and Corporate Secretary Danny Alexander said. Alexander made the remarks in a recent interview. He highlighted the important role that infrastructure investment had played in the development of some economies in Asia in the 1980s. "It's no coincidence that the Indian government has made improving the infrastructure of India a very important priority because it's really crucial for a country to develop economically," he noted. The third annual meeting of the AIIB's board of governors will be held here in June. The first annual meeting was held in Beijing in 2016. The second meeting was launched in South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju in 2017. Officially launched in January 2016, AIIB is a multilateral development bank initiated by China and supported by a wide range of countries and regions, which will provide financing for infrastructure improvement.