Qatar launches new direct sea route to Pakistan

Qatar has launched a new direct route between Hamad Port and Pakistan’s port of Karachi, Qatar’s state news agency (QNA) reported Monday.

The new route, launched on Sunday, will boost trade between the two countries, and offer “fast and secure” corridor for importers and exporters, with transit time of six days from Qatar to Karachi and eight days back, the report said.

“The new shipping line provides more options for customers, exporters and importers from both countries, covering new important ports from around the world, which will play an important role in supporting trade between Qatar and its partners of the world,” said Captain Abdul Aziz al Yafei, Director of Hamad Port.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt imposed land, air and sea blockade on Qatar since June 5, accusing it of financing extremist groups and allying with the Gulf Arab state’s arch-foe Iran. Qatar denies the allegations. Enditem

China, Pakistan vow to further deepen bilateral pragmatic cooperation

China and Pakistan on Sunday promised to deepen their pragmatic cooperation in various fields during a meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang.

Wang Yang is in Pakistan to attend activities marking the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence at the invitation of the Pakistani government.

Noting that China and Pakistan are “iron friends” and all-weather partners of strategic cooperation who always understand and support each other, Wang said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful visit to Pakistan in 2015 has ushered in a new chapter of the relations between the two countries.

China would like to join hands with Pakistan to well implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and ensure that more fruitful results will be achieved in bilateral cooperation, he said.

With regard to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, Wang expressed the hope that the two countries strengthen coordination and make good plan and design from a long-term and top-level perspective.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.

While hailing fruitful cooperation in various economic fields over the past years, especially in the CPEC construction, Wang suggested that in the near future, the two countries put emphasis on ensuring early harvests in the CPEC project.

Based on the principle of jointly building through consultation to meet the interests of both sides, China and Pakistan should work together to further accelerate the construction of Gwadar Port, Wang said.

Furthermore, the two sides should push forward energy cooperation in the fields of thermal power, Hydropower, solar energy and clean energy, implement infrastructure cooperation projects such as highways, railways, urban rail facilities, deepen cooperation in industrial parks and strengthen personnel training, the Chinese vice premier said.

China and Pakistan should further tap the potential in bilateral economic and trade cooperation, maintain the growing momentum in bilateral trade so as to promote trade balance, he said.

The two sides should also boost cooperation in the fields such as education, science and technology, culture, health, youth and media in a bid to consolidate the social basis of the China-Pakistan friendship, Wang said.

For his part, Abbasi said Pakistan and China are brothers and the bilateral relations have withstood the test of time.

Pakistan has witnessed the sustainable growth in its economy in recent years and China has played an important role in it, he said.

Pakistan totally agrees with China’s proposal to push forward the pragmatic cooperation between the two sides and is willing to work together with China to continue to press ahead wth the CPEC project, expand bilateral trade, deepen and broaden pragmatic cooperation in all fields, Abbasi said.

After their meeting, Wang and Abbasi attended the completion and inauguration ceremony of important cooperation projects between the two countries and the signing ceremony of bilateral cooperation documents.

Pakistan sees good future in special economic zones

Providing countless benefits for Central and South Asia, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has reached another milestone with the development of special economic zones (SEZ).

Enhancing connectivity with more people-to-people business interaction and joint ventures, ultimately the trickle-down effect of the CPEC projects has the potential to reach 3 billion people living in the neighborhood and in Central Asian states.

In the first phase, development of Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, and infrastructure involving transportation and energy were the main focus; now, however, the focus has moved to industrial co-operation under the CPEC.

Conceptually, the idea of SEZs was first started in New York in 1937. These were described as designated areas with special economic regulations such as tax incentives and lower tariffs to help attract foreign direct investment and boost industrial development.

Even though many countries subsequently employed this approach, it was China that achieved greatest success as it used its SEZs to attract foreign capital. The entire province of Hainan was declared an SEZ when usually the concept was limited to individual cities.

Offering tax incentives to foreign investors and allowing them to develop their own infrastructure, the economic liberal environment provided in the six Chinese SEZs greatly helped boost national innovation and advancement.

Greatly inspired by the success of Shenzhen, transformed from a remote fishing village to one of the world’s busiest cities with a GDP of over U.S.$230 billion, Pakistan has plans to establish nine special economic zones.

Providing special concessions in tax and economic policies for domestic and international investors, these zones will seek to promote industrial growth and target sectors that will help bridge the urban-rural divide and create an effective “zone of influence” improving standards of living and eradicating poverty.

In July, the Joint Industrial Working Group visited Pakistan to discuss incentives for investors and feasibility of the SEZs, as well as implementation of the ongoing Gwadar projects and industrial cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Delegation leader Du Zhenli, from the Department of Global Cooperation of China International Engineering Consulting Corp., explained: “We need to undertake the work step by step. Chinese companies are willing to develop SEZs in Pakistan. For that purpose, we must create a long-term mechanism for industrial cooperation.”

Having already established 77 industrial parks in 36 countries, China has fine-tuned development model and has the expertise required to provide a win-win outcome for each and every stakeholder.

Re-affirming the commitment to invest in Pakistan and move the initiative forward, the Chinese delegation devised a road map for industrial cooperation and finalized policies and planning along with Pakistani representatives from the Board of Investment.

SEZs have played an important role in the development of many Asian economies and created rapid industrialization. Strategic industry clusters planned to date include steel foundries and building materials, petrochemical, automotive and allied, light engineering and textile and garment entities.

Developed as a model for cooperation between China and Pakistan, the first SEZ at Dhabeji covers over 1,000 acres. Located in the province of Sindh, its annual industrial output is expected to exceed U.S.$2 billion.

Situated near the port city of Karachi and just 700 km from Gwadar, it is accessible to the Central Asian Republics, the Middle East, Europe and East Africa, making it the most viable SEZ for that particular region.

Primarily, the main success factors for a special economic zone are connectivity and access to a commercial center — in Dhabeji SEZ’s case, the city of Karachi. With two seaports and 90 percent of the multinational companies operating in Pakistan based there, Karachi provides Dhabeji with immense growth potential.

Likewise, China’s pioneering SEZ in Shenzhen used locational advantages to make it the principal access point for foreign investment into China’s mainland from Hong Kong. As a result, it has grown from a modest population of 30,000 in 1979 into one of the world’s most modern cities with more than 10 million residents.

In Pakistan’s case, Sindh Board of Investment Chairperson Ms. Naheed Memon announced that Dhabeji SEZ would create 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, when she spoke to the press after a meeting with Chinese investors, adding that the SEZ Authority of SBI is actively engaged with provincial industrial associations and China’s state-owned enterprises to promote the zone.

As it progresses, the CPEC is beginning to achieve its potential by transforming the regions it passes through into centers of economic activity. After all, practically generating economic opportunities with enhanced connectivity and mutual trade interests is what the Belt and Road Initiative is all about.

Pakistan starts assembling Chinese passenger car

KARACHI: The first Chinese passenger car is now being produced in Pakistan, a market that is currently dominated by three Japanese carmakers.

The company has recently invested Rs1.3 billion to improve its assembly plant, which is other than its initial investment of Rs2.5 billion.

 Al-Haj Faw Motors (Private) Limited, a collaboration between Faw China and a commercial importer of heavy vehicles Al-Haj Motors, has started assembling Faw V2, a 1,300cc hatchback, at its assembly plant in Karachi.

The company was importing Completely Built Units (CBU) of V2 for the last two years to see market response. Now that it is satisfied with the response, it has decided to produce the car locally to compete with well-established Japanese brands.

“We want to become the export base of Faw for export of cars to Southeast Asia and African markets,” Al-Haj Faw Motors Managing Director Bilal Afridi said on Saturday at a ceremony organised at the company plant.

The company initially targets to produce 300 units of V2 per month and then increase the production level to 500 units by the end of 2017. Currently, the company has over 600 workers and its annual capacity is 10,000 units (single shift) that will be increased to 15,000 units by 2020.

The company has recently invested Rs1.3 billion to improve the assembly plant, apart from its initial investment of Rs2.5 billion in the company.

The current price of Faw V2 is Rs1.069 million Company officials say they have only increased the price by Rs20,000 in over two years to make it an attractive product and compete well with the Japanese competitors.

Its Japanese competitor Pak Suzuki’s Swift, another hatchback with a 1,300cc engine, is available for Rs1.327 million (prices of its automatic variants go up to Rs1.511 million).

“I think they (Al-Haj Faw Motors) are maintaining a very good quality, something they should do because they have to compete with Japanese brands,” Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Accessories Manufacturers (Paapam) Chairman Mashood Ali Khan told The Express Tribune while inspecting a Faw V2 on the assembly line.

Company officials say they wanted to produce Chinese passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) locally for a long time, but delay on the part of the government (from 2013 to 2016) in announcing a new auto policy interrupted the planned investments.

Al-Haj Faw Motors has been assembling trucks since October 2011 while its plant is also capable of producing LCVs and passenger cars.

The Al-Haj Group has been present in Pakistan since 1960 when it started trading in different products like tyres, textiles and electronic goods.

The group, in May 2017, launched a separate company, Al-Haj Hyundai (Pvt) Limited, which will invest about Rs4 billion in producing Hyundai trucks and buses in Pakistan.

Chinese vehicles, led by Faw, are gradually getting a good response from the market, which has historically been dominated by Japanese companies.

Chinese brands have faced difficulty in the presence of Japanese and Korean companies that have enjoyed production facilities in Pakistan. However, the situation is going to change with the first locally produced Chinese car in the market.

Although Faw V2 has a distinct customer base, some analysts say it could take the market share of used cars that have caught the attention of Pakistanis for over a decade and a half. Pakistan currently imports over 45,000 used cars annually.

Analysts say growing middle class, better macroeconomic indicators and easily available car financing are some of the top reasons why car sales are continuously growing in Pakistan.

After over seven years of slowdown in the automobile industry, the country is once again producing over 250,000 units of LCVs, jeeps and cars annually.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2017.

Chinese VP arrives to participate in Independence Day celebrations

ISLAMABAD: Vice-Premier of the State Council of China, Wang Yang on Sunday arrived in Pakistan along with a high-level delegation to participate in the 70th Independence Day celebrations.

The Chinese VP is undertaking the visit (from Aug 13-14) on the directions of President Xi Jinping as a special gesture to participate in the 70th Independence Day Celebrations.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong received the dignitary at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

Earlier in March, a contingent of the guard of honour of the three services of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took part in the Pakistan military parade held in Islamabad to mark the Pakistan Day.

During his visit, the Vice Premier will attend the flag-hoisting ceremony on August 14 as a special guest, and call on President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and Chief of Army Staff, Gen Qamar Bajwa.

His visit on this important milestone for Pakistan is a reflection of the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between Pakistan and China, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Yang will also participate in inauguration ceremonies of several China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and witness the signing of bilateral agreements between the two countries.

Happy Independence Day

Happy 70th Independence Day of Pakistan

“There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan.”

Lets Make our nation more stronger then last year – CPECB is on national cause and ensuring to play major role in growing and making more stronger then before . We as business community are the back bone of the nation – Stay together – Stay Growing and make your nation proud to be Pakistani.