KP proposed law to affect tobacco farmers

PESHAWAR (Staff Reporter):  Senior Vice President, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Agriculture, Fazal Elahi Khan, while strongly opposing the KP government’s Prohibition of Tobacco & Protection of Non Smokers Health Bill, 2016, has said the enactment of the proposed law could threaten the future of thousands of tobacco growers. In a press release issued here on Thursday, he urged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to refrain from the enactment of any such law without consulting the growers. He criticised the provincial government for snatching livelihood from the poor without holding consultations with anyone. He also expressed surprise over such restrictions, included in the proposed bill, which neither were enacted by the federal government or in any other province of the country. He was of the view that the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had suffered heavy losses due to terrorism, and now they were confronting the cruelty of the bureaucracy. He demanded the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to withdraw the proposed bill, and start consultations over it.

Brent crude passes $50 a barrel

SINGAPORE (AFP): Brent crude rose past $50 a barrel for the first time this year on Thursday, after a fall in US inventories that added to global disruptions which have put a dent in a chronic oversupply. Prices nosedived from above $100 a barrel two years ago to around $27 in early 2016 due to a massive glut -- badly hurting producing nations but meaning lower prices at the pump for consumers. However the market has rebounded on the back of disrupted production in Canada due to wildfires, outages in Venezuela, and unrest affecting energy infrastructure in Nigeria -- Africa's biggest oil exporter. Both main contracts had been edging close to $50 for the last fortnight but a strong US dollar curtailed gains, as a firmer greenback makes the dollar-priced commodity more expensive, hampering demand.  The surge in Asian trade came after the US Department of Energy said Wednesday that US commercial crude oil inventories fell by 4.2 million barrels in the week to May 20.

Canada's central bank also announced that the fires in its western provinces, which a major supplier of crude to the US market, would impact the country's economic output numbers.

At 0715 GMT, Brent, the European standard, was up 34 cents at $50.08 a barrel, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was not far behind, trading 28 cents higher at $49.84.

"News about the US inventory, coupled with Canada's announcement gave prices the boost it needed to push past the $50 mark," CMC Markets trader Alex Wijaya told AFP.

- Respite for producers? -

Traders will now be watching to see if the price can be sustained despite the strong US dollar.

Shailaja Nair, associate editorial director at global energy information provider Platts, told AFP it also remains to be seen whether oil producers will find respite after prices breached the $50 mark.

"There's a little bit of demand but not like suddenly we've found a huge pocket of demand, we are not seeing that. Whether it will stay above $50 or not, that is going to tell us whether the producers can breathe a sigh of relief," she said.

Traders are eyeing a June 2 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna where it is hoped a deal on reducing production can be reached.

But OPEC member Iran, which only returned to world markets in January after the lifting of Western sanctions linked to its nuclear programme, has so far refused to curb production.

Tehran's stance appeared to reinforce market doubts that OPEC will take any firm action to curb oversupply.

Talks in Doha in April involving OPEC members and other major producers such as Russia failed to reach a deal to cap production.

Other analysts are also sceptical about how long the current prices will hold.

"The remarkable over 80 percent rally in oil since earlier this year may have been overdone, as the underlying macro conditions have not changed proportionally," IG Markets analyst Bernard Aw said in a client note.

"This suggested that speculative trades have driven up the price these months, and may not be sustainable."

Uzbekistan ambassador visits LCCI

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry Sheikh Muhammad Arshad has said Pakistan and Uzbekistan should make joint efforts to strengthen the mutual trade and economic ties. He was talking to the Ambassador of Uzbekistan Furkat Sidikov here at the Lahore chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI Executive Committee Members Mian Zahid Javed and Rizwan Akhtar Shamsi were also present on the occasion. The LCCI president said that both Pakistan and Uzbekistan have good diplomatic relations and enjoy historical bonds of Islamic brotherhood but these ties are hardly reflected in two way trade. He said that in 2013 the value of bilateral trade was 4.2 million dollars which dropped to 3.0 million in 2014. It should be a matter of concern for both sides that from the last two years, the worth of imports made from Uzbekistan remained stagnant at just 0.7 million dollar whereas Pakistan’s exports have declined from 3.5 million to 2.3 million dollars.

Dutch firms interested in dairy sector  

Lahore (Staff Reporter): The Embassy of the Netherlands and Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT) jointly organised a trade event in Lahore on Thursday. Nine visiting Dutch companies in the agri-space met with agri-food companies based in Punjab to explore possibilities for collaboration, joint ventures and knowledge cooperation. The main focus of the event was on dairy and seeds, two fields in which trade with the Netherlands has grown considerably in recent years.  Dr Farrukh Javed, Punjab Minister for Agriculture, said in his opening remarks: “Many Dutch companies are already contributing to the Pakistani economy. Since Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural produce in the world; there is a great scope for further collaboration between our two countries in this sector – specifically with regards to dairy farming in terms of the establishment of milk processing plants.” Mr Van Hell is excited about the new momentum in agri-business. “We are both nations with very strong traditions in agriculture – specifically in dairy and arable farming.”

And the Netherlands has a lot to offer to Pakistan. The Netherlands has developed unmatched agricultural solutions when it comes to dairy, horticulture, post-harvest and irrigation.” He also emphasised the developmental importance of modernising agriculture for Pakistani society at large: “Dutch expertise, livestock and equipment can help Pakistani farmers meet the crucial challenge of food security for the next generation. Let’s work together to make this happen.”