Cement export to Afghanistan declines 14.37pc

LAHORE (Satff Reporter): The cement exports to Afghanistan have declined by 14.37 per cent to 2.06 million tons during the last six months while exports to other destinations through sea, increased by 17.18 per cent to 1.88 million tons. Industry experts said that hype created on trade with India has so far not been materialized and export in that market was only 0.202 million tons during the last six months which is well below the expectation of the cement sector and declined by 3.25 percent. According to them, exports to India in fact have been on constant decline ever since the two countries opened their borders for liberal bilateral trade.

The decline is not due to lack of cement demand in India but because of non tariff barriers by our neighbor. They added that Pakistan’s cement is preferred by the Indians because of better quality. Considering the cement dynamics, industry wants government to reconsider its decision and remove cement from 3rd Schedule and to bring it in the normal sales tax regime. This will help industry to reduce prices which will help to accelerate construction activities across the country.

Pak-US strategic dialogue must focus on trade

Islamambad (APP): President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Shaban Khalid on Saturday said that Pakistan-US strategic dialogue must focus on bilateral trade and getting access to the US market to attract the investment. Talking to APP, President ICCI said, “Pakistan could exploit its geo-strategic position by providing trade routes for regional and global trade that would help make Pakistan a trade hub,” he added. He said the relations with world economic powers should be maintained on mutual respect and equality to achieve the national economic goals.

 President ICCI urged the government to consult the business community to devise a joint strategy to address economic challenges of the country. He urged the government for broadening the tax net and making reforms in the taxation system to maintain working terms with business community to get sustainable economic growth and development. He added that business community had never opposed the levy of tax rather demanded consultation with them for unified policy. President ICCI urged the government for economic diplomacy to have access to international markets for economic growth. He vows for regional economic integration to make cordial relation with all regional countries for strengthening mutual trade and investment in the region.

He said the trade and economic relations with Afghanistan would promote the country’s access towards the energy-rich Central Asian States to resolve country’s energy issues.

Shaban Khalid said that long term energy policy need to resolve the energy crisis for the sustainable trade and economic growth.

He said the government must focus on alternate energy sources like hydel, coal, solar and agro to shift from oil.

Replying to a question, he said Pakistan has important geo-strategic location and Pak-China economic and trade ties were essential to enrich economic activity in Pakistan.

He said the government to develop Gwadar Port on priority basis as it would prove catalyst for trade with China and Central Asian States. He also appreciated the agreement with China on rail, road links and trade corridor

President ICCI said that it was more encouraging that the European Union (EU) granted the Generalized System for Preference (GSP- Plus) status to Pakistan that cast positive impact on country’s export to EU markets.

He hailed the government’s accountability and transparency mechanism in government affairs and efforts to make the business friendly policies. Moreover, he also lauded Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme and advised for efforts to ensure maximum recovery.

He said the government to maintain law and order situation in country to attract the foreign and local investment.

Italy post office listing may come after summer

ROME (Reuters): The listing of a 40 per cent stake in Italy’s Poste Italiane, approved on Friday, could come in September or October, slightly later than targeted by the government, the head of the state-owned post office told a newspaper. Massimo Sarmi told the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore on Saturday that he aimed to complete preparations to list the stake in Poste Italiane by July but that the shares might not come onto the market until a few months later unless there were a particularly good market opportunity. Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said following cabinet approval of the sale on Friday that he hoped the operation could be completed before the summer, but Sarmi said it may take slightly longer.

“My personal target is to be ready on a technical level by July. We’d then reasonably complete the listing in September-October,” he said. “But if everything is ready and there’s a very favourable window in July, I want to have everything ready to take advantage,” he said.

The sale of the stake to institutional and retail investors as well as post office employees is expected to raise 4 to 4.8 billion euros $5.5 billion (3.3 billion pounds) - $6.6 billion (4.0 billion pounds) and could be followed by further tranches, Saccomanni said.

It forms part of a broader package of privatisations aimed at chipping away at Italy’s huge public debt, including the sale of a 49 per cent stake in air traffic control company ENAV, which was also approved on Friday.

Moody’s maintains French

debt rating

PARIS (AFP): Moody’s held its French credit rating at Aa1 but maintained a negative outlook, days after President Francois Hollande announced a batch of business-friendly measures to fire up growth. The US agency affirmed the bond rating one notch below the top AAA rating. Moody’s voiced scepticism about the reforms Hollande announced earlier this month, a “responsibility pact” which includes lowering labour taxes in exchanges for fresh hiring by companies. “The implementation and efficacy of these policy initiatives are complicated by the persistence of long-standing rigidities in labour, goods and services markets as well as the social and political tensions the government is facing,” the agency said in a statement.

“I can only welcome” this announcement, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told reporters at the World Economic Forum in in Davos, Switzerland.

The latest rating of French credit by Standard and Poor’s, the leading rating agency, is two notches below the top level.

The French government had feared that Moody’s might decide a further downgrade but the agency said any reassessment of the rating and outlook would hinge on the results of the latest moves to bring back jobs and growth.

“Moody’s would consider moving the outlook to stable and eventually upgrading France’s government debt rating should the rating agency conclude that the planned economic reforms and fiscal measures are both implemented and effective,” it said.

The agency said that so far “competitiveness issues have led to a gradual erosion of France’s export-oriented industrial base and constrain the economy’s shock-absorption capacity and, ultimately, its long-term growth potential”.

Call to check illegal exports of animals

LAHORE (APP): The livestock sector has a key role in the development of agriculture in the country as its contributes 55 per cent to agriculture GDP and 12 percent to GDP. These views were expressed by Vice Chancellor of the UVAS Prof. Talat Naseer Pasha while talking to APP on Saturday. He said as the livestock sector had a huge share in GDP, there was a need to have check prices of feed. He said over 25 percent hike in feed prices during the last year, illegal exports and high management costs had increased prices of animals which resulted in high prices of meat. Vice Chancellor Prof Talat Naseer Pasha said that the role of feed in the growth of animals was 75 percent and when prices of feed increased, it meant the cost of production was affected.

Responding to a question, he said that illegal exports and high management cost including labour, watering and transport had also an important role in increasing prices of animals.

However, he said that legal exports could be beneficial for both farmers and the government.

He called for checking illegal exports of animals to neighbouring countries including the UAE, Afghanistan and Iran and slashing prices of feed.