Pakistan ranked number one adventure travel destination

ISLAMABAD: The British Backpacker Society ranked Pakistan number one out of 20 other adventure travel destinations because they consider Pakistan one of the friendliest countries in the world with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

The team encouraged people from around the world to travel to Pakistan and assured that their perception of the country will be changed forever once they’re done

During their 4 to 5 years of travel, the team of Samuel Joynson and Michael Worral of British Backpacker Society from Bournemouth has traveled more than 80 destinations.

Here are the top 20 destinations they picked; Pakistan, Russia, India, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Tajikistan, China, Georgia, Uganda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Jordan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Montenegro, Egypt, Rwanda, Uzbekistan and  Kosovo.

The team at the British Backpacker Society will continue its journey and travel more destinations. They will compile a new list of top adventure travel destinations of the world.

CPEC to enter new era in 2018 with inclusion of Afghanistan, Central Asia

Islamabad: The multi billion dollars China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not only remain confine to the two countries but also include those in the region. The same was expressed by the new Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing during his interaction with Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Mushahid Hussain Sayed on Monday.
Yao Jing said the CPEC will enter a new era of all round development in 2018 adding expansion of the project will include Afghanistan and the Central Asian states.
In his remarks, Mushahid Hussain Sayed stated that the CPEC was all about cooperation and connectivity, not just between Pakistan and China but also between countries of the region.
Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that Yao Jing is an old friend of Pakistan, having served here on two occasions in the past, adding Yao knows Pakistan and the region very well. Senator Mushahid expressed the confidence that during his tenure Pakistan-China relations will be further consolidated and CPEC will make more rapid progress.
Ambassasdor Yao Jing termed Senator Mushahid old friend of Pakistan and thanked him for his contribution to strengthening Pak-China relations, especially in the building of CPEC.
Senator Mushahid invited Ambassdor Yao Jing to meet with the parliamentary committee on CPEC at a mutually convenient time and this invitation was accepted with pleasure. Senator Mushahid also presented the report of the parliamentary committee on CPEC to the Ambassador of China.

Petrochemicals and CPEC

The investment starved chemical sector received a boost when Engro Polymer announced its investment plans to the tune of Rs10 billion. The purpose of the investment is expansion of production of PVC, for which Engro Polymer is a market leader. The impetus of the investment is quiet clear given that the company posted its highest ever sales for the nine month period ending September 30, 2017.

World demand for PVC is primarily determined by construction activities. Globally, the production capacity for PVC is about 62 million tons in 2016, up from 8 million tons in 2012 showing the rising use of PVC. The most important applications for PVC are pipes and fittings that consume about 43 percent of PVC production. Other major PVC applications are profiles and tubes, rigid film and sheet, and cables all of which are used in construction.

Since construction activity is historically very low currently in Europe, PVC demand is being driven by India, Asia and Middle East; the biggest market for PVC at 47 percent is Northeast Asia. Construction activity in India led the PVC market to increase by 10 percent with pipes and fittings consuming 74 percent of production. It is heartening to note that the significant rise in India’s demand is still far below the rise in demand in Pakistan; EPCL estimates that Pakistan’s PVC demand has risen by 33 percent in the last quarter as compared to the same period last year.

As construction activities take off under the banner of CPEC, more and more industries will benefit. The rise of petrochemical intermediaries will provide opportunities for polymer industries and hence boost the plastics industry. The CPEC plan shared as yet, though obscure, does point to the necessity of setting up of petrochemical industries in the southern zone aka in Baluchistan.

Much has been said regarding the importance of a naphtha cracker being set up in Pakistan. In a recent interview that BR Research with Zubair Tufail, the chairman of Pakistan Chemical Manufacturers Association, he identified Engro Polymers as one of the companies that has enough clout and incentive to take the lead for the setting up of a naphtha complex (for more information read “Naphtha cracker to be set up in Pakistan in the next 5 years” published on December 22, 2017). He indicated that the complex will most likely be set up in Baluchistan. Though talk of the naphtha cracker has remained just that, talk, large scale investments in the chemical sector are steps in the right direction for its development.

China seeks French role in Belt and Road

President welcomes Macron on his first visit as head of state

China would like to make joint efforts with France to enhance cooperation under the Belt and Road framework using the principle of mutual benefit, President Xi Jinping said on Monday.

Xi made the remark while meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Macron is making a state visit to China from Monday to Wednesday, his first China visit since assuming office in May.

China and France should uphold the spirit of being responsible to history, sticking to the right path and striving for a better future for bilateral relations, Xi said.

Mentioning that there are lots of uncertainties in today’s world, Xi said China has proposed to build a community of a shared future for mankind, a proposal also echoed by France.

The two countries can rise above their differing social systems, developmental periods, culture and traditions to enhance political trust and work on their cooperation potential, Xi said.

China would like to work with France to promote world stability and peace, Xi said, adding that there is great potential for the development of China-France relations in the new era.

France was the first major Western country that officially established a diplomatic relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

In 1964, Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles de Gaulle made the historic decision to establish diplomatic ties, which not only influenced the global situation at that time, but also remains of great significance for current global development, Xi said.

Macron spoke highly of the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative, saying France would like to take an active part in building the initiative.

Macron said he also would like to boost mutual trust and strengthen the two nations’ ties as well as Europe-China relations.

France would like to make joint efforts with China to help solve global challenges such as climate change, he said, adding that his visit is expected to become a milestone for French-Chinese relations.

While addressing a group of academics, students and executives earlier in the day in Xi’an, one of the eastern ends of the ancient Silk Road, Macron said China and Europe should work together on the Belt and Road Initiative, adding that the ancient Silk Roads “were never only Chinese” and had to be shared.

Power Division seeks tax exemption for CPEC energy projects

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power Division Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari has assured power-sector investors that his division is holding negotiations with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on tax exemptions and related matters with expectations that a positive outcome will emerge soon.

The minister gave the assurance in a meeting with project sponsors on Friday. The huddle was in line with the commitment to facilitating the investors and resolving the challenges being faced by ongoing projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to ensure their timely completion.

Chinese Deputy Head of Mission M Lijian Zhao, nominated by the Chinese embassy as the focal person for power projects, co-chaired the meeting along with the Power Division minister.

People representing alternative energy projects – wind and solar power – including Hydrochina Dawood Power, Sachal Energy, Three Gorges, Western Energy and Crest Energy briefed the meeting about their projects.

Responding to the investors on complaints of delay and extension in the Letter of Support and the Letter of Intent, Leghari, who is also the chairman board of directors of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB), directed the PPIB to hold its next meeting on January 11.

PPIB will thoroughly work out details of these requests and put before the board for its consideration and decision on merit.

Investors told the meeting that Pakistan’s coal deposits in Thar had attracted handsome investment and Singh Engro Coal Mining Company was working hard to achieve the targeted mining results within the set time frame.

They said 63% of work on mining and the mine-mouth plant had been completed and the 660-megawatt coal-fired power plant was expected to start commercial operations in June 2019, almost four months ahead of schedule.

Other companies including Oracle Power, Shanghai Electric, Thalnova Power and Hubco Thar Power were also working at a swift pace and would begin commercial operations well in time.

Representatives of 1,320MW Port Qasim coal power and 1,320MW Sahiwal coal power projects briefed the meeting about their operations and future development activities.

Sponsors of Hubco coal power project, Gwadar coal power project, Suki Kinari hydroelectric power project, Karot hydroelectric power project and Kohala hydroelectric power project highlighted the progress achieved so far in their work.

Representatives of the China State Grid-sponsored Matiari-Lahore transmission line project spoke about the pace of work.

The Power Division minister directed the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) to hold dialogue with sponsors of Thar power projects in an effort to ensure timely provision of back-feed.

He also asked the NTDC to provide all-out support for the investors so that they may be able to supply power as soon as they achieved the commercial operation date.

The Power Division, on its part, will hold meetings with governments of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for making available land for the Gwadar coal power project and Suki Kinari hydroelectric power project respectively.

The minister tasked the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) and the Power Division to approach the regulator for sorting out tariff-related issues being faced by some projects.

“China is looking to further extend support to Pakistan in energy as Chinese investors have been keenly following the success in the power sector,” remarked the Chinese deputy head of mission while appreciating the move to meet all CPEC project investors and listen to their problems.

UK desirous to partner in CPEC projects

LONDON: The United Kingdom has expressed the desire to partner in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

According to the media reports the Commercial Counselor at the Pakistan High Commission London Sajid Mehmood Raja while talking to APP has said that UK has communicated its strong support for CPEC.

“The UK is the 3rd largest destination of the Pakistani exports globally and the top destination within the European Union,” he said

The commercial counselor hoped that due to the proactive role of Pakistan High Commission London, the bilateral commercial relations would further strengthen in the time to come.