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Can Digital Yuan Challenge US Dollar's Dominance in International Finance?

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China's central bank is testing its digital currency in several major Chinese cities. The chairman of US Federal Reserve has recently confirmed that the US Central Bank is working on digital dollar. The State Bank of Pakistan announced in 2019 that it was developing a digital currency. It seems that the popularity of Bitcoin has triggered serious worries of loss of control of the official financial systems among the central bankers around the world. China's substantial lead in digital currency could put it far ahead of the US in the future of global payments and financial settlement. It could eventually displace the US dollar and provide China with the immense global financial power that the US currently enjoys.  Digital Yuan Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC): What Is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)?   Investopedia  defines it as a digital currency that "uses a blockchain-based token to represent the digital form of a fiat currency of a particular nation (or regi

Construction and Manufacturing Driving Double-Digit Growth in Pakistan Cement and Steel Production

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Pakistan steel production grew by 13.3% in 2020,  the second fastest among the top 40 steel producing countries, according to data published by the World Steel Association. At the same time, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics revealed that the nation's steel imports rose by 18% year-over-year. The demand for steel was driven by construction and manufacturing sectors which are leading Pakistan's economic recovery.  World Steel Production. Source: World Steel Association Pakistan steel-makers  produced 3.7 million tons of steel  in 2020, up 13.2% from 3.2 million tons in 2019. Neighboring India saw 10.6% decline in steel production in the same period. Global steel production declined 0.9% in 2020. Pakistan also  imported $2.1 billion worth of iron, steel and scrap  in the first 7 months (July 2020- January 2021) of the current fiscal year.  It's a jump of 18% from the same period in prior fiscal year.  Pakistan steel industry reached peak production of  5 million tons in 2017  bef

Can SEZ Industrial Parks Help Pakistan Become an Export Powerhouse?

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Asian Tigers built their strong economies by becoming export powerhouses. China has done so in more recent decades.  How can Pakistan do the same? An answer to this question came this week from Karen Chen of China's Challenge Apparel. Here's what she said as reported by  Dawn News : “Chinese want to shift their business to a place where they can set up their operations in 3-6 months. You know when you go overseas to invest even in Africa they have industrial parks ready. You just go there and enjoy the ‘plug-and-play’ facility. No firm wants to waste two years in acquiring land and another couple of years in securing utilities to start operations. By the time you get utilities the opportunity is gone and you are already out of business. This is the biggest problem in Pakistan.” Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation Building in Karachi Pakistan was the original " Asian Tiger " back in the 1960s when other developing Asian economies sought to emulate Pakistan. It

Imran Khan Government's Midterm Review: Economy and Foreign Policy

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Imran Khan's government has completed about half of its 5-year term it won in 2018. What are its accomplishments? Where has it failed in terms of economy and foreign policy.  Economy: Imran Khan inherited a serious  balance of payments  crisis cased by flat exports and record high imports in 2013-2018 period under Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government. while the PTI government was still dealing with it, the country and the world were hit by  COVID19 pandemic  that devastated the global economy.  Pakistan's Trade July2020-Jan2021. Source: Arif Habib The 2019 International Monetary Fund's bailout required the PTI government to significantly devalue the Pakistani rupee to make exports competitive, and to raise interest rates to slow down imports. These actions triggered inflation, particularly  food inflation , as energy and fertilizer prices rose.  The global COVID19 pandemic hit Pakistan and the world while the PTI government was still trying to stabilize the economy. Th

Development Boom in Thar Brings Hope For Pakistan's Least Developed Region

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New roads, an airport and a water reservoir in Tharparkar are opening up Pakistan's  least developed region . Jobs are being created, drought-resistant nutritious trees and crops being planted and fish farms being established for the benefit of the the people of Thar. New water pond is attracting migratory birds that feed on fish.  Tharparkar Peacock Underground Water:   Fortunately for the people of Thar, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has discovered significant amount of underground water, the most precious commodity in drought-hit  Tharparkar region  of Pakistan.  Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SECMC and Thar Foundation was quoted by  Business Recorder  as saying, “While carrying out hydrogeological studies for Thar coal project, we found out abundant water reserves of groundwater at the depth of 450 plus feet in the whole of the desert region." The available water in Thar has the potential to irrigate thousands of acres of land by applying modern

Pakistani-American Doctor Fired For Giving Away Expiring COVID19 Vaccine

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Dr. Hasan Gokal, Pakistani-American medical director of Harris County COVID Response Team, has been charged with stealing COVID19 Moderna vaccine and fired from his job, according to media reports.  Dr. Gokal's "crime" is to give away unused coronavirus vaccine doses that would have expired and lost if not used within hours. A Texas judge has dismissed charges against him.  Dr. Hasan Gokal Each vial of Moderna vaccine has 10 doses. Once it is punctured, the vaccine expires within 6 hours. After administering COVID19 vaccine to all the front-line healthcare workers who showed up for their appointment, Gokal gave the remaining expiring doses of the vaccine to acquaintances and strangers, including a bed-bound woman in her 90s, a woman in her 80s with dementia, several men and women in their 60s and 70s with health issues, and a mother with a child on a ventilator, according to  New York Times . After midnight and just minutes before the vial would expire, the final person c

The White Tiger: An Incisive Social Commentary on Religion, Caste, Class and Democracy in India

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Few  films about India  offer the kind of incisive social commentary that the recently released "The White Tiger" does. Based on a novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, it tells  the story of a poor but ambitious young man from a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The film touches on religion, caste, class and democracy in India. It is directed by Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani and now available on Netflix.  The White Tiger: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao The movie opens with a scene showing Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) looking back at his life. It follows up with a series of long flashbacks to tell his story. Along the way, Balram sarcastically compares  India's democracy  with China's sanitation system. “If I were in charge of India, I’d get the sewage pipes first, then the democracy.” Numerous scenes in the film illustrate  poor sanitation  in India by showing Balram and others squatting and  defecating in the open .  Raise