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Commencement of China Pakistan Free Trade Agreement Phase-II and...

Feb 25, 2020: The Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) organized an awareness seminar on the 2nd phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement on 25th February, 2020 at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Faisalabad. The seminar was one of the many from a series of seminars being organized by the Ministry of Commerce and TDAP across the country to disseminate the trade and export opportunities arising out of CPFTA-II, which has become operational from 1st January, 2020.

A large number of business persons from FCCI and major trade associations of Textiles, Foundry & Engineering, Agro Food and Chemical Industry of this region attended the seminar. Secretary FCCI thanked all the guests and provided in-depth introduction of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI)

Dr. Muhammad Hamid Ali, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Islamabad welcomed the distinguished guests. Speaking on the accession, he briefed the audience about the 2nd phase of CPFTA, which offers an enhanced and deeper market access to Pakistan. He apprised that under CPFTA-II, China has eliminated the tariff on 313 high priority tariff lines of Pakistan’s export interest, providing Pakistan a preferential treatment. He stated that safeguard measures and balance of payment clauses are included under this CPFTA II to protect local industry.

Mr. Riaz Ahmed Sheikh, Director General, TDAP Karachi delivered a detailed presentation regarding various aspects of CPFTA-II and provided an insight on sector-wise benefits arising out of this FTA. He explained that in CPFTA-II, Pakistan benefits from asymmetrical liberalization placing it at par with ASEAN countries in trade with China. He briefly mentioned Safeguard Measures, Electronic Data Exchange and the use of an extensive Sensitive List that will make implementation of CPFTA-II meaningful. Finally, he provided a detailed export analysis of the 313 lines on which Pakistan enjoys 0% duty covering diverse sectors like Agro-Food, Textiles, Leather, Chemicals, Footwear, Machinery, Auto, Jewellery, Plastics & Other Miscellaneous Items. He presented a timeline of further liberalization between Pakistan and China.

Ms. Anjum Asad Amin, Member, National Tariff Commission provided detailed information regarding the safeguard measures which have been incorporated in the 2nd phase of CPFTA in order to protect the Pakistan industry.

Mr. Muzammil Sultan, Ex-President FCCI, in his remarks highlighted the significance of China in regional trade and appreciated the opportunities under CPFTA-II. He expressed hope that this agreement would help in narrowing the trade deficit between Pakistan and China and assured that the industry is willing to collaborate the government for making the most of CPFTA-II.


Press Release

European stocks extend losses on virus pandemic scare

Feb 25, 2020: European stock markets fell further Tuesday, although steeper declines in late trading did not match a major sell-off triggered by new coronavirus developments a day earlier.

Global equities have been hit by growing concern that the COVID-19 outbreak could derail the global economy.

More deaths and a surge in cases in Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea has raised the risk of a pandemic.

After rebounding early on Tuesday, major European markets took fright and headed lower once again, with losses increasing as the day wore on to almost two percent by the close.

A Paris investment manager said that the latest sell-off appeared to be broader based than an initial phase of selling that had focused on auto, leisure and luxury stocks.

Portfolio manager Frederic Rozier at Mirabaud France commented that the late acceleration in European declines was "fairly even," and added: "We have the feeling it was the market (as a whole) that was being sold," with the exception of some domestic stocks.

"In the first downward phase that we saw, fairly specific issues such as autos, leisure and luxury" were being dumped the most, he explained.

On Tuesday, Tokyo's main stocks index closed with a 3.3-percent loss as traders caught up with global counterparts after a Japanese public holiday on Monday.

Other Asian equity markets recovered a bit meanwhile, with Hong Kong and Seoul posting increases.

The Dow Jones index was off by one percent in midday New York exchanges.

- 'Positive mood not short-lived' -

CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden remarked Tuesday that "the brutal losses endured yesterday coaxed a few buyers out of the woodwork, but given that equity benchmarks are back in the red suggests that sentiment is still sour.

"The coronavirus crisis in Italy remains at the forefront of traders' minds," Madden said.

Italy has reported a big jump in cases -- from six to 283 since Friday -- and now has by far the highest number of confirmed infections in Europe.

News at the weekend that COVID-19 was spreading and claiming lives far beyond China has focused investor's minds on the potential for longer-term disruption to supply networks and consumption.

The World Health Organization says the epidemic has peaked in China, where it has killed more than 2,600 people and infected more than 77,000 others.

But the situation has worsened elsewhere with nearly 2,700 other cases and more than 40 deaths globally.

The world is "simply not ready" to rein in the outbreak, the head of a joint WHO-China mission of experts said Tuesday.

"You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale... and it has to be done fast," Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

IG analyst Joshua Mahony noted that "fears over a potential coronavirus contagion throughout Europe is likely to provide substantial risk-off sentiment for days and weeks to come, with significant pressure on the Italians to stop this outbreak from spreading throughout the continent".

Among safe-haven investments favoured by investors, the price of gold eased lower after hitting a seven-year high on Monday.

The yield on 10-year US Treasuries declined to 1.33 percent, their lowest level in more than three years.

Oil prices, which tanked by around 3.8 percent on Monday, slumped again as traders mulled whether the global economy would need much crude in the days and weeks to come.

- Key figures around 1700 GMT -

  • London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.9 percent at 7,017.88 points (close)
  • Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.9 percent at 12,790.49 (close)
  • Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.9 percent at 5,679.68 (close)
  • Milan - FTSE Mib: DOWN 1.4 percent at 23,090.44 (close)
  • Madrid - IBEX 35: DOWN 2.5 percent at 9,250.80 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 2.1 percent at 3,572.51
  • Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 3.3 percent at 22,605.41 (close)
  • Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 26,893.23 (close)
  • Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3013.05 (close)
  • New York - Dow: DOWN 1.0 percent at 27,681.74
  • Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0872 from $1.0854
  • Pound/dollar: UP at $1.30 from $1.2924
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.62 pence from 83.98 pence
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.15 from 110.72
  • Gold: DOWN at $1,647.20 per ounce from $1,659.38 late on Monday
  • Brent Crude: DOWN 1.5 percent at $54.91 per barrel
  • West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.6 percent at $50.62


Brexit talks turn sour as EU, UK clash

Feb 25, 2020: Britain and Brussels clashed Tuesday over upcoming Brexit talks, with London roundly rejecting key elements of the EU's negotiating platform, setting up an acrimonious start to negotiations next week.

The EU's chief negotiator warned the bloc would not abandon its principles to get a deal and took aim at a British minister as tensions between the two sides ramped up.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman fired back, saying Britain would not cave to Brussels' demands for access to fishing waters or its insistence that British companies stick to EU standards on goods.

"We will not conclude an agreement at any price," Barnier told reporters after EU ministers approved his negotiating mandate, warning that negotiations would be "difficult, perhaps even very difficult".

The talks are to begin in Brussels on Monday in an increasingly poisonous atmosphere, with the clock ticking down to a December 31 deadline to reach a deal. Johnson has ruled out seeking any extension.

Britain left the EU at the end of January under the withdrawal agreement struck in late 2019, and will be regarded as a non-EU "third country" in the negotiations even though it still trades like an EU member until the end of December, when its transition period out of the bloc ends.

Without an accord on the new relationship, trade between the EU and Britain would revert to a bare-bones arrangement under WTO rules, causing economic pain on both sides, but especially in the UK.

- Fishing rights -

Barnier's mandate emphasises that Britain has to mirror European standards if it wants its goods to continue to have tariff-free access to the huge single market, saying that any deal struck with the UK must include "robust commitments" to uphold norms.

Brussels fears that without these so-called "level playing field" guarantees, the UK might seek a competitive edge over Europe by undercutting its tax, environmental and labour standards.

But Downing Street rejected this in a series of tweets sent while Barnier was still on his feet in the press conference, saying the EU had offered the US zero tariffs "without the kind of level playing field commitments" seen in Tuesday's mandate.

And Johnson's spokesman insisted Britain "must have full control" of its laws, echoing earlier pledges to walk away rather than obey EU diktats.

Within hours of Barnier's mandate, British ministers in London approved their own negotiating approach.

Details are not due to be published until Thursday, but Johnson's spokesman said the goal was "to ensure we restore our economic and political independence on January 1, 2021" -- meaning Britain intends to set its own norms irrespective of EU rules.

France in particular hardened the EU position, aiming to heighten trade friction the more the UK diverges from EU standards, as well as putting access for EU fishing boats to British waters at the heart of the mandate.

The EU now wants any future deal to "uphold existing reciprocal access conditions" for fishing fleets, but this was swiftly shot down by Johnson's spokesman.

"Iit doesn't matter what the EU puts in its mandate as we become an independent coastal state on December 31 2020. That means we automatically take back control of our waters and others' right to fish in them," the spokesman said.

"We are prepared to have a discussion about who fishes in our waters but the point is we will be in control of those waters and it will be our determination to make."

- Low trust -

While the two sides are clashing on substance, trust is dwindling as well, with Johnson's government saying British ports are not being readied to carry out checks on goods between Britain and its Northern Ireland territory, despite that being a requirement of the withdrawal agreement.

The normally unflappable Barnier singled out British Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis over what he called "astonishing comments" suggesting there would be unfettered access for business between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland.

Under the withdrawal agreement, a protocol on Northern Ireland is to remain in place unless a devolved local government decides otherwise years down the line. Until then, the British territory is essentially to remain under EU single market rules, with a border for goods down the Irish Sea.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned that "the implementation of agreements that have already been struck are the test of good faith and trust -- and without good faith and trust, building a future relationship is not going to be easy".

For the future relationship, Britain is asking for a similar free trade agreement to the one Canada has with the EU, rejecting Europe's arguments that the UK's proximity, size and economic interconnectedness with the continent require stricter controls.


Banking Sector Spread decrease by 37 bps in January

February 25, 2020 (MLN): The Banking sector spread for January 2020 mitigated by 37 basis points (bps) over the month which brings its latest value to 5.70% as compared to prior month's spread of 6.07%. On the other hand, the spread has dilated by 28 bps as compared to the same period last year.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan's monthly data released on Weighted Average Lending & Deposit Rates, the lending rate for all banks (inclusive of zero markup) mitigated by 7 bps as it stood at 12.65%. Meanwhile, the deposit rate expanded by 30 bps over month, thus bringing the latest rate to 6.95%.


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AEDB arranges 4th progress review meeting on net metering

Feb 25, 2020: Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) Tuesday arranged 4th progress review meeting on net metering.

The meeting was chaired by AEDB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan, said a press release, NEPRA, DISCOs, GIZ, USAID and AEDB certified vendors/ installers/ service providers attended the meeting and reviewed the progress of net metering in Pakistan.

The AEDB certified vendors/ installers / service providers who attended the said meeting were included JD Aviation Sourcing and Engineering Services, ATS Engineering Sales and Services, Creative Electronics (Private) Limited, K K B (Kaim Khani & Brothers), Maxell Power (Private) Limited, Technology Links (Pvt) Ltd, E-Cube Solutions (Pvt) Ltd, MULTILINE Engineering Co, Siddiq Renewable Energy (Pvt) Ltd, Instant Energy (Pvt) Ltd, Venture Universal Trade (Private) Limited, Zi Solar (Private) Limited, Orient Energy Systems (Private) Limited, Solis Energy Solutions (Private) Limited, Tesla Industries (Private) Limited, REON Energy Limited, Zero Carbon (Private) Limited and M/s National Radio and Telecommunication.


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