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Pakistan aims to further strengthen relations with Vietnam: President

January 19, 2021: President Dr. Arif Alvi says Pakistan wants to further strengthen relations with Vietnam in diverse fields, including trade and economy.

He was talking to the outgoing Ambassador of Vietnam Pham Hoang Kim, who called on him in Islamabad on Monday.

The President said Vietnamese investors need to take advantage of Pakistan's improved business environment as Pakistan offers an on-arrival visa facility to Vietnamese nationals.

Highlighting the need to institutionalize high-level bilateral exchanges, the President said the exchange of parliamentary delegations will open up new avenues of bilateral cooperation.

He underlined the need to foster people-to-people contacts by promoting cooperation in the fields of tourism and education.

The President congratulated Pham Hoang Kim on the successful completion of his tenure in Pakistan and appreciated his efforts towards the promotion of bilateral ties between Pakistan and Vietnam.  

Radio Pakistan

Govt taking concrete measures to bring down sugar, wheat...

January 19, 2021: Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar has said the government is taking concrete measures to bring down sugar and wheat prices in the country.

Speaking in the Senate on Monday, he said more sugar will be imported to ensure its smooth and cheap supply.

Hammad Azhar said in this regard we will seek permission from ECC to import 5000 tons more sugar.

The Minister said to ensure an adequate supply of flour, the Punjab government timely enhanced the release of wheat to flour mills, however, at the same time Sindh government limited the release which resulted in a price hike of flour in Sindh.

He said for the first time in history, sugarcane farmers are being paid the real price of their crop due to the support price announced by the PTI government.

The Minister said petroleum prices in Pakistan are lower than that of the neighboring countries.

Hammad Azhar said a major part of external debt during the PTI government was utilized to repay the interest on the loans obtained by the previous governments.  

Minister for Finance and Revenue Hafeez Sheikh has said the government is focusing on reducing foreign debt as it is a big burden on the country's economy.

Taking the floor, he said blaming the government for the current debt spike is unfair because it is also paying the loans obtained by the previous governments.

The Minister said during the initial days of the PTI government our first priority was to save the country from the impending default and resultantly the government took result-oriented decisions and had a landmark agreement with International Monetary Fund.

He said the current government inherited a very precarious economic situation in 2018 and therefore had to introduce strict financial discipline to curtail excessive government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market-driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions and discourage imports.

He said that the government did not borrow even a single penny from the State Bank of Pakistan during the last one and a half year, while no supplementary grants were provided.

He outlined that since the spread of Covid-19, the government has taken several initiatives to facilitate agriculture and construction sectors to accelerate economic recovery.

He said due to primary surplus, we don’t need loans if we don’t have to repay previous loans.

The Minister said now the combined impact of various progressive economic indicators show that the country is moving forward.

Radio Pakistan

Economic indicators become positive due to prudent policies: Hafeez...

January 19, 2021: Minister for Finance and Revenue Hafeez Sheikh has said due to the government's tough, result-oriented decisions and prudent policies economic indicators now have become positive.

Speaking in the Senate, he said soon after coming into power, the country foreign reserves had dipped to $ 9 billion from $ 18 billion adding that the gap between exports and imports had also widened to $ 32-35 billion.

He said the government had to take tough decisions to cope with the challenges and its top priority was to save the country from the impending default.

Hafeez Sheikh said now the country is going towards stability owing to the steps taken by the government and the current account is now in surplus and country's exports witnessed sharp increase after the decades in the textile sector.

Moreover, the large-scale manufacturing industry was also on a path of recovery and witnessed a growth of 7.5 per cent.

The minister said the government is investing in such programmes which help generate employment opportunities.

Radio Pakistan

Asia shares look to China for recovery lead, earnings...

January 19, 2021: Asian shares climbed on Tuesday as investors wagered China's economic strength would help underpin growth in the region, even as pandemic lockdowns threatened to lengthen the road to recovery in the West.

Data out on Monday had confirmed the world's second-largest economy was one of the few to grow over 2020 and actually picked up speed as the year closed.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed 0.98%, to be a whisker from record highs.

Japan's Nikkei bounced 1.5%, recovering all the losses suffered on Monday when caution had dominated markets.

Australian shares climbed 1.25% as investors bet on news that Queensland state was set to lift virus-led restrictions and on prospects of better production numbers from local miners, helped by improved industrial activity in top consumer China.

Chinese blue-chips remained flat while Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1.8%.

U.S. stocks also looked a little steadier as futures for the S&P 500 added 0.51% and NASDAQ futures 0.59%.

Analysts at JPMorgan felt the coming earnings season could brighten the mood given the consensus in Europe was for a fall of 25% year-on-year, setting a very low bar.

"The projected EPS growth in Europe now stands at the lows of the crisis which seems too conservative, and could likely lead to positive surprises over the reporting season," they wrote in a note.

The same could be true for the United States where results from BofA, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Netflix are due this week.

For now, dealers were cautious ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration given the risk of more mob violence, along with doubts about how much of his fiscal stimulus package will pass Republican opposition in Congress.

Janet Yellen, Biden's nominee to run the Treasury Department, will tell the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the government must "act big" with the coronavirus relief plan.

"Biden will not want the risk of a double-dip recession to escalate," said analysts at ANZ in a note.

The full $1.9 trillion proposal combined with stimulus already agreed would amount to 10% of GDP.

"That would be sufficient to close any output gap and underpin a gradual recovery in inflation as demand firms," they wrote. "But it will be a difficult winter, and investors will need renewed confidence in the inflation trade before established earlier trends reassert themselves."

Wall Street is also bracing for tougher regulations now that the Democrats control the Senate, with Biden set to nominate two consumer champions to top financial agencies.

In bond markets, 10-year Treasury yields were steady at 1.10% and off their recent 10-month high of 1.187% as investors waited to see how much fiscal stimulus might actually get passed.

Currencies were also quiet with the dollar index last at 90.684, comfortably above its recent trough of 89.206.

The euro idled at $1.2095, after touching a six-week low of $1.2052 overnight, while the dollar was sidelined on the safe-haven yen at 103.89.

The Canadian dollar eased to $1.2731 on reports Biden would cancel a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline as one of his first acts in office.

Gold steadied at $1,840 an ounce after briefly reaching a six-week low of $1,809.90 overnight.

Global demand concerns kept oil prices in check. U.S. crude fell 0.1% to $52.29 a barrel, while Brent crude futures rose 0.48% to $55.02 a barrel.


NBP issues Foreign Exchange Rate

January 19, 2021: Treasury Management Division of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) on...

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