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Imports into Pakistan surge by whopping 95% YoY in...

September 17, 2021 (MLN): Imports into Pakistan during August 2021 amounted to Rs. 1,081,961 million (provisional) as against Rs. 889,779 million (provisional) in July 2021 and Rs. 556,064 million during August 2020, showing an increase of 21.60% over July 2021 and of 94.57% over August 2020.

According to the provisional figures compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, in terms of US dollars, the imports in August 2021 were $ 6,593 million (provisional) as compared to $ 5,575 million (provisional) in July 2021 showing an increase of 18.26% and by 98.82% as compared to $ 3,316 million in August 2020.

Imports during July – August 2021 totaled Rs. 1,971,740 million (provisional) as against Rs. 1,168,727 million during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 68.71%.

In terms of US dollars, the imports during July – August 2021 totaled $ 12,168 million (provisional) as against $ 6,990 million during the corresponding period of last year, showing an increase of 74.08%.

The main commodities of imports during August 2021 were Petroleum products (Rs. 146,370 million), Medicinal products (Rs.74,712 million), Petroleum crude (Rs.72,609 million), Natural gas, liquefied (Rs. 62,316 million), Palm Oil (Rs. 53,005 million), Plastic Materials (Rs. 43,624 million), Iron & steel (Rs.38,773 million), Electrical machinery & apparatus (Rs.35,333 million), Power generating machinery (Rs.28,834 million) and Iron & steel scrap (Rs. 28,731 million).

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Exports from Pakistan jump by 39% YoY in Aug’21:...

September 17, 2021 (MLN): Exports from Pakistan during August 2021 amounted to Rs. 368,847 million (provisional) as against Rs. 373,412 million (provisional) in July 2021 and Rs. 265,600 million during August 2020, showing a decrease of 1.22% over July 2021 but an increase of 38.87% over August 2020.

According to the provisional figures compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, in terms of US dollars, the exports in August 2021 were $ 2,248 million (provisional) as compared to $ 2,340 million (provisional) in July 2021 showing a decrease of 3.93 but increased by 41.92% as compared to $ 1,584 million in August 2020.

Exports during July – August 2021 totaled Rs. 742,259 million (provisional) as against Rs. 599,255 million during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 23.86%.

In terms of US dollars, the exports during July – August 2021 totaled $ 4,587 million (provisional) against $ 3,584 million during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 27.99%.

Main commodities of exports during August, 2021 were Knitwear (Rs. 59,761 million), Readymade garments (Rs. 46,565 million), Bed wear (Rs. 43,448 million), Cotton cloth (Rs. 30,880 million), Cotton Yarn (Rs. 16,987 million), Rice others (Rs. 14,765 million), Towels (Rs.13,586 million), Madeup articles (excl. towels & bedwear) (Rs.10,845 million), Basmati rice (Rs.8,285 million) and Fruits (Rs.6,355 million).

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Gas supply to Agritech Ltd restored

September 17, 2021 (MLN): Agritech Limited (AGL) has informed that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has restored gas supply to the company’s urea plant.

In a notice to PSX, SNGPL through a letter conveyed that the company shall be restored with effect from 0700 hours of 17th September 2021.

The urea plant has now resumed its operations after facing the load management plan of GOP regarding gas supply from June 29, 2021 till September 16, 2021.

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Pakistan has promising digital future: VC-CAFIEC

Sep 17, 2021: Pakistan has promising digital future and as an emerging economy, Pakistan is facing both opportunities and challenges, said Dai Xulong, vice-chairman of China Association for International Economic Cooperation (CAFIEC), Ministry of Commerce of China and president of Council for International Economic and Technology Administration, Beijing (CIETA).

"As an emerging economy, Pakistan is facing both opportunities and challenges. It is considered to be the fifth-largest young country in the world. Around 63 percent population of the country comprises youth aged between 15 and 33. The large proportion of young people means they are adaptable but they have weak spending power," Dai said in an interview.

To solve this, market segmentation would be a feasible way for Pakistan on its path to digitalization. "Some Chinese phone brands' performance in Pakistan has been impressive in recent years. "So to divide a target market into smaller, more defined categories would definitely help win more market share; that's what we could share with our Pakistani brothers" Dai added.

Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic stroked a blow to Pakistan's economy. The only way to deal with the crisis is to strengthen cooperation in digitalization at a deeper level and in broader areas, Dai Xulong pinpointed, since "no country can stay immune from COVID-19's impact."

As per Dai, digital technology has special edges during the unprecedented pandemic era. "Digital is going to transform you whether you like it or not," Dai told China Economic Net, adding that the pandemic was a knockout punch to the global real economy but the digital economy still has room to grow as it's pushing everyone to adjust themselves to the digital age faster than ever.

Take telecommunication as an example. Even 4G has not penetrated countrywide in Pakistan now, and there are still some areas that are yet to get 3G/4G service. Worst of all, the users who have not yet switched to smartphones will keep on using 2G-based phones.

However, it is worth mentioning that the pandemic has provided the telecom sector of Pakistan an opportunity to expand further and to strive to reduce existing digital inequality.

Pakistan's 3G and 4G user base have reached 101.59 million by the end of July 2021, up from 99.85 million at the end of June 2021, marking a 1.74 million increase, according to figures from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). By the end of July 2021, Pakistan's cellular subscriber base has expanded by 0.65 million to 184.9 million, up from 184.25 million in June.

"We would like to share our experience in developing digital technology and scientific and technological innovation with Pakistan, but it takes a process," Dai explained, pointing out that the development of digital economy cannot be achieved without the development of digital infrastructure.

"China needs to take note of the importance of digital infrastructure when working with countries with weak digital infrastructure like Pakistan to promote its development of digital economy," he further mentioned.

Established in 1983, CAFIEC of the Ministry of Commerce of China is a national organization focusing on conducting activities, engaging in research and organizing exchanges in international economic cooperation and on China companies' outbound strategies.

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Activation of Terminal III to ease off gas crisis:...

September 17, 2021: Managing Director of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) Imran Maniar has said that gas crises being faced during the winter season were likely to continue for one to two more years until the new terminals for RLNG get installed at the Port.

There were difficulties and challenges but the picture is rosy as upon completion and activation of Terminal III at the Port and if the SSGC decides to make a commitment with terminal owner only if consumers of SSGC pledge to buy the additional 500 mmcf, it would certainly help in resolving gas shortage issue being suffered by all types of consumers in Karachi, he added while exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).

Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) & Former President KCCI Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairman BMG Jawed Bilwani, President KCCI Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President Saqib Goodluck, Vice President Shamsul Islam Khan, Former Presidents KCCI Majyd Aziz and Younus Bashir, Former Vice President Muhammad Idrees, Chairman Public Sector Utilities Subcommittee Atif Jamil ur Rehman and Managing Committee Members along with representatives of industrial town associations also attended the meeting.

While highlighting the overall gas demand-supply situation, MD SSGC informed that a total of 4,000 mmcf gas including indigenous gas and RLNG was being used all over the country, of which around 950 mmcf was being provided to SSGC from indigenous resources in Sindh and Baluchistan while 150 mmcf of RLNG was also being given to them and the rest of gas was being used by SNGPL. SSGC takes 110 mmcf from natural resources in Baluchistan while the rest of 75 percent gas comes into the system from resources in Sindh but these gas reserves were depleting fast at a rate of 10 percent per annum.

He said that SSGC takes around 150 to 180 mmcf RLNG from two terminals at Port Qasim but the supply shrinks to 70 or 80 mmcf from these terminals during winter and the demand for gas in Baluchistan rises to 120 mmcf which creates an overall gas shortage of around 195 mmcf. To deal with gas shortages, the Ministry has designed a mechanism in which all the consumers from domestic to industrial have been ranked from top to bottom in which domestic consumers were at the top of the list, followed by export-oriented industry while CNG stations were at the bottom of the list and non-export industry was above CNG stations.

Therefore, SSGC carries out load management during winter season exactly as per list provided by the Ministry whereas RLNG supplies to KE are completely cut to zero that helps in covering the gas shortage by 75 to 80 mmcf whereas suspension of gas to CNG stations further saves 20 mmcf that leads to reducing the gas shortfall by 95 mmcf, out of a total shortfall of 195 mmcf, he added.

He further pointed out that there was a tremendous push to get villages gasified which requires significant investment of billions of rupees and huge resources including workforce and equipment who have to be sent to remote areas and villages.

He further said that the industry was paying 70 to 80 percent of gas being consumed by the domestic consumers as the gas tariff for domestic users was very low and less than any other consumers all around the world including Qatar and Iran as it was being subsidized by the industry.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala pointed out that the first and foremost problems being faced by gas consumers was the low gas pressure in the industrial zones of Karachi which has created a serious havoc and the entire industry was unable to meet its requirements including the efficiency benchmarks and delivery time that intensifies the sufferings for the exporters. “As winter season is just ahead, what will happen to gas pressure during winter and what is the current condition of gas supply”, he asked.

Zubair Motiwala said that the data of last one decade indicates that 1200 mmcf of gas was available from indigenous resources ten years ago when the industries were utilizing around 385 mmcf gas and then around 7 years ago, a decline to 335 mmcf was witnessed in the industrial consumption which later on picked up but to date, the maximum industrial consumption was not more than 400 mmcf.

“We are concerned about the future as the demand for gas continues to rise because the industries have imported huge number of machines to enhance their production thanks to government policies but all these machines are going to require energy including gas and electricity so what is going to happen and what is the energy scenario for these machines which have been imported”, he said, adding that machineries worth US$1.5 billion dollars has already arrived, of which machineries valuing around US$400 to US$500 million have already been installed and started production whereas more machines worth US$1.5 billion were also in pipeline which would require more gas.

He was of the view that demand from industries during winter remains intact yet the industries suffer the most which was not a correct approach. The demand for gas rises in Baluchistan to 200 mmcf from around 40 to 50 mmcf and it also increases in Sindh during winter season. Hence, the gas shortage was not because of rise in demand by the industry but purely due to enhanced consumption by domestic users. “Despite staying stagnant in terms of gas demand, supply to industry is curtailed and we are compelled to suffer. We don’t want more gas in winter, we want the same quantum of gas in winter at adequate pressure”, he added.

Zubair Motiwala further stated that the five zero rated sectors agreed on a tariff of 6.5 dollars for RLNG gas which was available to entire Pakistan but SSGC has denied this tariff and the export-oriented industries falling under SSGC's franchise have been compelled to use RLNG at exorbitant rate which was not affordable. “In this situation, when we are deprived of receiving RLNG, we might have to shift to SNGPL network.”

He further expressed apprehensions over gas connections being given to new buildings which was going to intensify the hardships for industries because as per policy, supplying gas to domestic consumers was the top priority which means that the industries were going to suffer further curtailment due to more supply of gas to new domestic consumers. “All the new buildings should be provided gas via alternate means like bousers and the storage facility can be established at the basements of new buildings whereas the domestic consumers must be advised to switch over from gas-run geezers to solar-run geezers as successfully done in many countries all around the world”, he added.

President KCCI Shariq Vohra, while welcoming the MD SSGC, said that gas has become a serious issue as Pakistan’s natural gas reserves were rapidly depleting while the gas distribution system of SSGC was in a pathetic state, causing severe line losses which was due to the fact that SSGC, which was once known as the best utility service provider company, has been through terrible circumstances during the last 10 years. SSGC has to define effective strategies to control waste of natural gas resources and theft in order to save the economy and the industry from severe losses, he added.

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