PSPA welcomes commerce

minister's statement

LAHORE (APP): Pakistan Steel Linepipe Industry Association (PSPA) has welcomed Federal Commerce Minister's statement for withdrawal of sales tax on exports of steel pipes. The minister has announced to withdraw sales tax on exports and declared exemption of sales tax on exports of steel pipes under manufacturing bonds, exports processing zones and DTRE. In a letter written to the minister, PSPA Chairman M Hashim thanked the minister for co-operation and saving steel pipes industries from complete collapse. "We warmly welcome your statement and immediate decision regarding for withdrawal of sales tax under exports and also declared exemption of sales tax on exports of steel pipes to Afghanistan and Central Asia", he added.

Spain says no cash for Greece

until reforms implemented

MADRID (Reuters):  The euro zone will not make any cash payment to Greece until it has passed and implemented all the reforms Athens agreed on in February, Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told the Financial Times on Sunday. The Spanish stance heaps pressure on Greece three days after it pledged to meet creditors' demands for a broad package of economic reform proposals within days to unlock the funds it needs to avoid stumbling out of the euro zone. "We will see whether the list of reforms is comprehensive enough or not. (But) there will not be any disbursement before there is a real test that the reforms have been approved and implemented.

That is the approach," de Guindos was quoted as saying.

"Nobody can violate the rules. It would be a failure for Greece or any other member to leave the euro. But it would be a similar, or even bigger, failure to breach our rules," he also said, adding that the Greek government should return to the policies of the previous centre-right government.

"The point is to put Greece back on the growth path. How do we do that? We have to do that through measures aimed at competitiveness, at increasing productivity, at cracking down on oligopolies and monopolies, having a proper tax collection and a real privatisation program," de Guindos also said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had indicated he could offer a full package of reforms within a week or 10 days, will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday.

China imposes new curbs on

Norway salmon imports

OSLO (AFP): China has imposed new restrictions on imports of Norwegian salmon citing fears of a fish virus, Norwegian authorities said on Monday. As of Monday, Beijing has banned imports of whole salmon from three Norwegian regions amid concerns they carry infectious salmon anaemia (ISA). That ban represents one-fifth of Norway's salmon exports to China. For salmon from other regions of the Scandinavian country, Chinese authorities have imposed stricter controls aimed at detecting ISA and pancreas disease. Norway's food safety agency was informed by letter of the decision, which it judged to be baseless but which strikes yet another blow to the country's star export product.

Sales of Norwegian salmon to China plummeted after the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Norway's food safety agency stressed meanwhile that Norwegian salmon was safe.

"We believe there is no risk that Chinese salmon will be contaminated by the ISA virus because fish products from Norway go directly to consumption," it said in a statement last week.

"The ISA virus is not harmful to humans," it added.

The awarding of the Nobel Prize to Liu plunged the two countries' bilateral ties into a deep-freeze, and led to a tightening of veterinary controls on Norwegian salmon.

Its share of the Chinese market dropped from 90 to less than 30 percent.

The new restrictions come on the heels of an import ban announced by Russia -- another important market for Norway -- in response to western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

Egypt signs up to Ethiopian Nile dam, citing trust

KHARTOUM (AFP): Egypt Monday agreed to a preliminary deal with Ethiopia on a new dam project that Cairo feared would hamper the flow of the Nile, the river on which it depends. The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan all gathered in Khartoum to sign the agreement of principles on Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance dam project. "I confirm the construction of the Renaissance Dam will not cause any damage to our three states and especially to the Egyptian people," Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the signing ceremony. Egypt, heavily reliant for millennia on the Nile for agriculture and drinking water, feared that the Grand Renaissance Dam would decrease its water supply.

However, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that "this is a framework agreement and it will be completed".

"We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development."

He said the final accord will "achieve benefits and development for Ethiopia without harming Egypt and Sudan's interests".

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir hailed the deal as "historic".

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May 2013 to build the 6,000 MW dam, which will be Africa's largest when completed in 2017.

Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959 which grant it 87 percent of the river's flow and the power to veto upstream projects.

But Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, signed another deal in 2010 allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo's agreement.

In protest, Egypt withdrew from the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a forum to discuss management and development of the region's resources, but later resumed participation.

Neither Sudan nor Egypt has signed the 2010 Nile Basin deal, however.

Sudan, like Egypt, relies on Nile resources but has said it does not expect to be affected by Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance project.

APICORP secures $950 million

Islamic loan

DUBAI (AFP): The Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP) said Sunday it had secured a $950 million (878 million euro) Islamic sharia-compliant loan from regional banks. APICORP, the investment company of the Organisation of the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), said the loan would be used to increase its portfolio of investments in regional energy projects. The deal featured two tranches, the first worth $800 million secured from five leading Saudi banks and maturing in five years, APICORP said in a statement. The second, valued at $150 million and maturing in three years, was given by two United Arab Emirates banks and HSBC Middle East.

"This financing leaves us in firm control of our liquidity and equipped to continue delivering against our mandate to foster the development of the Arab world's energy sector," said APICORP's deputy CEO, Raed al-Rayes.

Established in 1975, APICORP, which is based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, provides investments, loans and expert research to the Arab energy industry.