BoI organises business, trade investment forum in Korea

ISLAMABAD (APP): Board of Investment (BoI) in collaboration with Embassy of Pakistan in South Korea organized Pakistan Business and Trade Investment Forum in Seoul, Korea during the official visit of Pakistan delegation led by Khurram Dastgir Khan, Commerce Minister. The Forum was attended by around 100 businessmen from both the countries, said a statement received here on Wednesday. President and CEO’s of different multinational firms had also participated in the forum. The Secretary, BOI Iftikhar Babar, addressed the Forum and highlighted that Pakistan is offering a very liberal investment regime in the region with diverse and business friendly incentives.

He invited the Korean as well as Pakistani investors to invest in Pakistan for joint ventures with local partners and work for investment and trade development which are beneficial, for both the friendly countries.

The Pakistani delegation during the two day visit had a series of meetings with around 15 President and CEO’s of various Korean companies and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Korea.

The delegation comprised Iftikhar Babar, Secretary, BOI and S M Muneer Chief Executive, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), The delegation met the Korean Importers Association (KOIMA), Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET), LOTTE, DAEWOO, DAELIM, KOICA and KOTRA with detailed discussions and induced them to make more investment in the potential areas of Pakistan. The meeting was held with Minister for Trade and Energy of Korea Yoon Snag Jick also.

The forum will pave the way for investment and trade delegations to visit each other’s country and explore possibilities for further expansion of investment and trade.

Global warming may eat up $200 billion crops globally by ’50

ISLAMABAD (APP): A whopping USD 200 billion worth of wheat, rice and maize crops could be lost by 2050 globally if the issues arising from global warming are not addressed on a war-footing, an independent study on the impact of climate change on crop yields has warned. “By 2050, about USD 200 billion worth of crops in wheat, rice and maize will be lost in 2010 dollar terms,” Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, said. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water is an independent, not-for- profit policy research institution addressing pressing global challenges through an integrated and internationally-focused approach, CBC reported.

The study also warned around 750 million people in South Asia could face extreme water shortage, or 1.8 billion people could face chronic water shortage by 2050, due to population growth.

A decline in crop yields mainly considers shortening of the growing season caused by higher average temperatures, the report added.

The study looked at three major crops in three growing areas wheat in Punjab, rice in Jiangsu, China, and maize in Illinois in the US.

“A 4-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures above the late 20th century levels, combined with increasing food demand, would pose larger risks to food security globally and regionally,” he warned.

With a 1-meter rise of global sea level, the probability of a ‘100-year flood event could become 1,000 times more likely in Kolkata, the report said. On a high emission pathway, flooding in the Ganges basin could be six times more frequent, becoming an ‘1 in 5 year’ event over the course of the century, the report said.

Ghosh said another recent study by the agency had warned that due to average temperature rise and consequent ‘urban heat stress’, over the course of the century a majority of heat related deaths will happen in Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

The study looked at various aspects of risks arising due to climate change.

On a high emission pathway, the incidence of extreme drought affecting cropland could increase by about 50 per cent in South Asia, the report stated.

Another direct and systematic risk of increasing climate change in India and the world was the rise in sea levels.

Climate-related stress could also add to the already steady growth of migration from rural areas to cities, Ghosh added.

He claimed that this is the first-of-its-kind multi country assessment applying the principles of risk assessment, using financing and national security to better understand and communicate the risks of climate change.

If the world warms by 4 degrees Celsius, in North India there is a 30 per cent probability that temperatures will be so high that moderate/heavy outdoor work cannot be carried out in the hottest month.

The assessment considers three key areas the future pathway of global emissions, the direct risks arising from the climate’s response to those emissions, and the risks arising from the interaction of climate change with complex human systems, he added.

It is critical for us to understand that the risks of climate change are non-linear: while average conditions may change gradually, the risks can increase rapidly.

“On a high carbon emissions pathway, the probability of crossing thresholds beyond which the inconvenient may become intolerable will increase over time,” Ramadorai warned.

Banks disburse Rs 368.7b agriculture credit in ten months

ISLAMABAD (APP): The banks in the country have disbursed Rs 368.7 billion agriculture credit during first ten months of previous fiscal year which was 73.74 percent of overall annual target of Rs 500 billion. The disbursement was 27.84 percent higher than of Rs. 288.387 billion made during corresponding period last year. Sources in Agriculture Division on Wednesday said the decision has been taken to facilitate farmers’ community as the government has seriously focused on bringing improvement in real sector growth through improvement in agriculture, industrial and services sectors. In this connection, a number of public sector development programmes have been initiated in production and infrastructure sectors.

The sources said efforts were also made to provide better supply of inputs including quality seeds, fertilizer and pesticides etc. in timely manners to increase agriculture produce and encourage small poor farmers.

During the period, the government remained focused on improving vocational and technical education networks to provide more skilled labour to industrial sector and encourage small and medium industries through targeted loans.

The sources said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also reduced discount rate gradually and reached at 7.0 percent which is the lowest in last 42 years and was also a major incentive for business community to increase economic activities.

The SBP also reduced markup rate on Export Refinance from 9.4 percent to 6.0 percent and Long Term Financing Facility rates from 11.4 percent to 7.5 percent, which has reduced financial cost of exporters and will improve exports in coming months.

The government has established Land Port Authority (LPA) to oversee cross-border movement of goods and people. This project is a part of an Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) at border customs station to facilitate trade with neighboring countries. The LPA would act as a common platform for all regulatory agencies including customs, immigration, terminal operator, security, quarantine, banks, shipping agencies and freight forwarders etc.

The successful implementation of the project will make Pakistan third country in South Asia after Bangladesh and India, having dedicated land ports for handling goods and passenger traffics at borders. It is a major step to transfer Pakistan into a regional trade hub.

Oil prices fall back after Iran-fuelled gains

LONDON (AFP): Oil futures slid Wednesday as markets started to price in the impact on supplies of Iran’s historic deal with Western powers regarding the Islamic republic’s suspected nuclear ambitions. Traders were keeping a watch also on US commercial oil inventories ahead of a weekly report Wednesday, and digesting upbeat Chinese economic growth data. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August shed 38 cents to stand at $58.13 a barrel in London midday deals. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August dropped 35 cents to $52.69 compared with Tuesday’s closing level. The oil market had risen Tuesday as investors were confident it would take time for Iran to start exporting more crude to a market awash with supplies.

“It is gradually dawning on market participants that Iran will not be making any rapid return to the oil market even after the historic agreement,” Commerzbank analysts said in a research note to clients.

“The agreement first has to be ratified by the UN and by the US Congress. Then Iran has to implement the conditions set out in the agreement, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has to confirm this in a report. Only then will sanctions be eased.”

Iran and major world powers on Tuesday reached a deal to monitor Tehran’s nuclear programme, which the West says will curb its efforts to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement will lead to a lifting of crippling Western economic sanctions which have restricted its key oil exports.

The negotiators gave no specific dates for the implementation timeframe, other than saying it would begin “upon conclusion of the negotiations”.

Iran is exporting about one million barrels per day of crude, sharply down from the 2.2-2.3 million it was selling overseas before the sanctions were imposed in mid-2012, according to energy information provider Platts.

“Iran’s oil and financial sanctions will be lifted with a phased deal struck on its nuclear programme on July 14, but the market won’t immediately see more crude,” Platts said in a commentary.

“The market probably won’t see any noticeable increase in Iranian crude supply until next year.”

Elsewhere, the US government’s Department of Energy is expected to reveal that American crude reserves fell 1.9 million barrels in the week ending July 10, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.

That would signal strengthening demand in the world’s biggest consumer of oil.

Gasoline or petrol inventories are expected to have increased by 450,000 barrels, while distillates — including diesel and heating fuel — are seen climbing 1.46 million barrels.

China, the world’s biggest energy user, said Wednesday that its growth expanded 7.0 percent year-on-year in the second quarter — beating expectations as months of central bank policy stimulus helped support the world’s second-largest economy.

The gross domestic product figure announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) matched the 7.0 percent expansion in the first three months of this year, and exceeded the median forecast of 6.9 percent in an AFP survey of 14 economists.

Govt asked to resolve marble industry issues

ISLAMABD (INP): Govt should focus on resolving marble industry problems on priority as Pakistan has great potential to improve marble exports by upgrading technology and value addition of marble products, observed Muzzamil Hussain Sabri, President, ICCI. He said Pakistan is the 6th largest extractor of marble and granite and its reserves of these stones are estimated at around 297 billion tons. However, despite huge size of deposits and long-term export potential, Pakistan has merely 2 percent share in global market of marble products, which is negligible. He said China, Italy and many other countries are purchasing raw marble products like slabs and blocks from Pakistan and re-export them after value addition around the world.

He said government should cooperate with marble industrialists in value addition of marble products that will help in enhancing marble exports significantly. He said with value addition and improved quality, Pakistan could promote exports of finished marble products to Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Russia, USA, Europe and many other countries.

Muhammad Shakeel Munir Senior Vice President and M. Ashfaq Hussain Chatha, Vice President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that hundreds of processing units are employing local manufactured machinery and stressed that government should provide necessary support in upgrading and modernising such machinery to meet international quality standards. They said handling, cutting, storing and transportation facilities should also be improved to enhance exports of marble products.