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Govt aware of business community’s challenges

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar said today the government was well aware of the challenges being faced by the business community and taking all possible measures to provide them an enabling environment to grow and contribute to the national economy.
He said ” In today’s world, there are essentially three pillars sustaining any nation-building process, the government, civil society, and business,” adding that the nation’s development could be only achieved when these three worked together.
The Minister was addressing the ‘CEO Summit Islamabad’ organized by CEO Club Pakistan in collaboration with Planning Commission, Board of Investment and Privatization Commission here.
The event was attended by Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, senior officials of the Ministry and a large number of business leaders, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and policymakers.
He stated that the government’s primary role was to act as a facilitator for sustainable and responsible business to flourish.
He said that the government had moved to reform the economy and it expected the private sector corporations to step up and partnered with the government in redefining the country’s future.
The Minister added that the private sector’s potential to contribute to the treasury’s domestic revenues was critical for meeting the government’s developmental goals by financing essential public goods and services.
The minister noted that major roadblocks to growth had been the historically low private investment, little or no investment by business in R&D and domestic operations.
Pakistani businesses needed to step out of their comfort zones and invest in acquiring latest technology, business practices to become competitive at the regional and international level and employing our growing youth bulge in value-added industries of the future especially science and technology, he added.
The minister stated that sustainable development was best served where private sector positions itself to foster inclusive growth noting that “Our talented private sector has the potential to lift people out of poverty.”
He further said that evidence suggested that over 80% of jobs in developing countries were created by the private sector however unfortunately only 25% of the working-age population was engaged in productive employment.
He said that more than 80% of the workforce in Pakistan remained employed in informal sector jobs which needed to be changed.
The minister said that the government acknowledged the positive role the businesses had played in the development of the country and their ability to navigate tough political and economic cycles.
‘Now is the time that we work together to change the destiny of our country.”
Talking about CPEC, the Minister stated that the project was graduating from start-up phase to a more mature period in its development.
He underlined that the scope and base of CPEC were broadening and deepening adding that the mega project had the potential to spur GDP growth and transform Pakistan into a regional economic hub.
He stressed upon the industrialists to bridge the industrial divide between Pakistan and China by initiating joint ventures in various sectors including manufacturing, services, construction, agriculture, and energy.
The Minister congratulated the best-performing CEOs and companies on their achievements and hoped that they would continue to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development for a prosperous Pakistan.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Political Affair, Naeem ul Haq, speaking on the occasion said the present government was committed to providing free health and education to the poor people of the country.
He said that government would strengthen the local government system in the country adding that previous governments of Sindh and Punjab did not give power to local bodies system.

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Stocks turn down as outlook darkens, confidence down

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Asian markets extend losses on fears of escalating trade war

LONDON: US stocks followed European stocks down Wednesday on stubborn worries over global trade and high oil prices, while an EU offers to extend Britain’s Brexit transition period could not keep London in positive territory.
That offer and lower British inflation had briefly helped the FTSE 100 index higher but the index closed just in the red, while Frankfurt and Paris suffered larger falls despite earlier Asian gains.
On Wall Street, the Dow had shed 0.3 percent more than two hours into trading. Barclays chief European economist Antonio Garcia Pascual said two key factors were casting a shadow over the wider outlook: the potential prospect of $100 oil and the festering global trade war.
Capital Economics warned of an impending slowing of the US economy as monetary policy tightens. “We are not explicitly forecasting a recession, but we believe that the economy will slow sharply in 2019 as prior monetary tightening bites and fiscal stimulus fades,” the consultancy said.
Oil fell Wednesday after data showed a drop in US stockpiles – but dealers kept a close eye on Riyadh, with major producer Saudi Arabia under intense pressure over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Traders are on tenterhooks over any fallout because OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter.
Investors fear oil could shoot back above $100 per barrel on Saudi tensions — and also on sliding output from Iran which faces renewed US sanctions next month.
“This is a big issue for Europe in general because Europe is highly oil-dependent,” Pascual told the Media. “A big supply shock could be something that Europe would not cope very well with.”
Meanwhile, this year US President Donald Trump has levied or threatened tariffs on goods from economies around the world, notably China, but also on traditional allies including the European Union.
“I’m very worried about trade,” said Pascual, noting Trump’s threat of a 25-percent tariff on European car imports.
“We have US-China trade war – but we also have the prospect of a US-EU trade war.”
– ‘Worst case scenario’ –
Barclays estimates that a scenario of $100 oil could slash 0.6 percentage points from its current 2019 global economic growth guidance of 3.8 percent.
The bank also estimates that its “worst-case scenario” of $100 oil and a US-EU trade war could slash 2019 eurozone economic growth by 1.0 percentage points from its current forecast of 1.9 percent.
European economies are already being buffeted by concerns surrounding Brexit as well as Italy’s fiscal troubles.
New York – Dow Jones: DOWN 0.3 percent at 25,722.43
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,059.40 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 11,724.09 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 5,144.95 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,243.08
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 22,841.12 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,561.61 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for a public holiday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1540 from $1.1574
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3132 from $1.3181
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.14 from 112.25 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN $1.55 at $79.66 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $2.00 at $69.92

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Govt committed to reduce cost of doing business

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the government was firmly committed to reducing the cost of doing business.

He said that would contribute towards country’s ranking in the ease of doing business by extending maximum facilitation and provision of all possible support to the business community.

The prime minister was chairing a meeting of the Council of Business Council here at Prime Minister’s Office. The prime minister said that in order to strengthen the local industry and reduce the cost of production, gas prices had been reduced for export-oriented industries so as to make Pakistani products internationally competitive. He said that the government was also considering a reduction in various duties including customs duty, regulatory duties and others to further reduce business cost.

He said that the government was also working on developing a national tariff policy to address issues of the business community and to remove anomalies in the existing tariff structure. On improving country’s ranking in ease of doing business in the country, the prime minister said that the government had set the target of bringing the country into the list of first 100 countries by extending maximum facilitation and simplification of the procedures.

The prime minister said that a special Complaint and Suggestion Cell was being established at Board of Investment to facilitate redressal of the complaints of the business community and welcome their suggestions with regards to business policies. He said that the Complaint and Suggestion Cell, which would be connected to the Prime Minister’s Office would be functional in a week’s time. The prime minister also appreciated the input of the business leaders belonging to various sectors of the economy, who presented various proposals during the meeting for the strengthening of the economy and promoting critical sectors such as manufacturing sector, small and medium enterprises, agriculture and IT sector. 

Those who attended the meeting included, among others, Muhammad Ali Tabba, Bashir Ali Muhammad, Shahid Sooty, Seema Aziz,  Azam Farooque, Shahid Abdullah, Khawar Anwar Khawaja, Babar Badar, Saqib Shirazi, Samina Rizwan,  Almas Haider,  Abdul Rauf, and Zarak Khan. Minister for Finance  Asad Umar, Advisor on Commerce  Abdul Razzak Dawood and senior officers were also present during the meeting.

 

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Asia

Tokyo shares rise after Wall Street rally

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TOKYO: Stocks here ended higher today with investor sentiment boosted by robust corporate earnings that triggered a rally on Wall Street and lifted shares in Asia.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.29 percent or 291.88 points to 22,841.12 while the broader Topix index added 1.54 percent or 25.96 points at 1,713.87. Market sentiment brightened across Asia, after US and European shares extended gains on a wide range of factors including solid US business earnings, an apparent fading of tensions between Italy and the EU over Rome’s spending, and hopes that Brexit talks may see some progress. Tokyo players also embraced the dollar’s renewed strength.
The US unit kept its ground at 112.25 yen in Tokyo after reaching 112.26 in New York, higher than 111.95 yen seen at the start of the week. “Investors cheered gains of US shares on the back of robust corporate earnings, as well as the relative stability of US bond yields,” Okasan Online Securities said in a note. “The Nikkei index began the day with buy orders leading the way. The dollar hovered just above the 112-yen mark. The yen’s downswing also brightened the sentiment,” the brokerage said. Strong gains of US tech issues drove up Tokyo-based IT shares. IT investor SoftBank Group added 2.13 percent to 9,790 yen, partly on news that Uber was aiming at a valuation above $100 billion for its share offering. Softbank has a 15-percent stake in the ridesharing service.
Softbank stock had taken a hammering in recent days due to the firm’s links to Saudi Arabia, which is under intense international scrutiny after a journalist disappeared from its consulate in Istanbul. Sony jumped 2.23 percent to 6,498 yen. Panasonic rose 1.26 percent to 1,250.5 yen. Toyota gained 1.38 percent at 6,612 yen while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group added 1.84 percent to 4,481 yen. FujiFilm, which rose 1.66 percent to 4,890 yen, announced that a US court lifted an injunction that had stopped the firm’s merger talks with US printer maker Xerox. The Japanese firm plans to continue the discussion.

 

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