China Investment to Pave Way For More Foreign Investing in Pakistan

This (China's $46 billion investment in Pakistan) can not be purely politically driven. Beijing is commercial: CEO’s, not think tank intellectuals, travel with politicians. Barron's Asia

Spurred by Chinese investment, the smart money is taking notice of Pakistan as an attractive investment destination. The investors are looking at the fact that Pakistani stocks have been outperforming both emerging and frontier markets for several years. The benchmark index of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE100) is up more than 20% in the last 12 months, according to

Pakistani Shares in 2015:

After a dismal March, MSCI Pakistan rebounded strongly this month, returning 9.1% so far. In April, the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM) rose 4.3%, the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (EPI) dropped 1.2%, the iShares MSCI India ETF (INDA) fell 1.9%, according to Barron's Asia.

Source: Economist Magazine
KSE-100 Performance:

In 2014, the KSE-100 Index gained 6,870 points thereby generating a handsome return of 27% (31% return in US$ terms), making Pakistan's KSE world's third best performing marketTotal offerings in the year 2014 reached 9 as compared to 3 in the year 2013. After a gap of seven years, Rs 73 billion were raised through offerings in 2014 as compared to a meager Rs 4 billion raised in 2013. Foreign investors, that hold US$ 6.1 billion worth of Pakistani shares -which is 33% of the free-float (9% of market capitalization)-remained net buyers in 2014.

Pakistani Shares Valuation:

Even after outperforming both emerging and frontier market indices, Pakistani shares can be bought at deep discounts which make them very attractive, according to Renaissance Capital’s chief economist Charles Robertson.  MSCI (Morgan Stanley Composite Index) Pakistan trades at only 8.4 times forward earnings, a 17% discount to MSCI Frontier Markets. For comparison purposes, fellow frontier south Asia markets Sri Lanka and Bangladesh trade at 13.4x and 21.4x respectively. India, included in the emerging market index, trades at 16.8 times.

Key Sectors: 

Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure will help stimulate all sectors of Pakistani economy. But the sectors benefiting most from the $46 billion investment will likely include banks, energy and building materials, the sectors which are the favorites of  Pakistani billionaire investor Mian Mohammad Mansha.

Being close to the ruling Sharif family makes him the ultimate insider. Beyond his investments in banking, cement, energy and textiles, Mansha is also starting to invest in consumer products sector benefiting from rising incomes, growing middle class and increasing jobs created in Pakistan by the massive Chinese investment. Mansha owns a big chunk of Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) share. He has recently been pumping more money into energy, cement and dairy businesses. Mansha's DG Khan Cements has announced plans to build a $300 million cement plant near Karachi. In additions, his Nishat Dairies has imported thousands of dairy cows for a dairy farm in Lahore.


The $46 billion Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure has brought attention to tremendous investment opportunities in Pakistan, a nation of nearly 200 million people with rising middle class and growing consumption.  Pakistani military's recent successes against the terrorists and China's massive investment commitments are expected to boost investor confidence in the country. Higher confidence will help draw other significant investors to invest in Pakistan over the next several years.


Riaz Haq said…
The Indian stock market, as reflected by the S&P BSE Sensex, has fallen by at least 2,100 points or 7.1% from its highs and is adjusting to the reality of subdued earnings. Company results for the January-March 2015 quarter, so far, have not been encouraging, though analysts expect things to improve by the second half of the current financial year. The street expects earnings to get better with the improvement in business environment and pick-up in economic activity. Put differently, in the medium term, market movement will largely depend on the pace of expansion in the economy, which, to a large extent, will be determined by government action and implementation of ideas such as increasing capital expenditure.
Interestingly, even as some investors are getting edgy and expect quick government action on various fronts, observations from some of the international institutions that came in this month were largely optimistic about the future of the Indian economy. Encouraged by the recent policy action, rating agency Moody’s, while affirming its Baa3 rating on India, changed its outlook to positive from stable. It said in a statement: “…recent measures to address inflation, keep external balances in check, simplify the regulatory regime for investors, increase foreign direct investment, and facilitate infrastructure development will reduce some of India’s sovereign credit constraints.”
The government’s intent to improve the economic environment and action taken in this regard is being recognized. “Growth will benefit from recent policy reforms, a consequent pick-up in investment, and lower oil prices. Lower oil prices will raise real disposable incomes, particularly among poorer households, and help drive down inflation,” said the latest World Economic Outlook (April 2015) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Growth in India, according to the IMF, will be higher than that in China in 2015 and 2016, making it the fastest growing large economy in the world. It expects India to grow at 7.5% in both 2015 and 2016. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy is expected to expand at an annual pace of 6.8% and 6.3%, respectively.
The World Bank had similar observations about the Indian economy. In its South Asia Economic Focus (Spring 2015) report, it noted, “India’s economy is poised to accelerate on the back of an ambitious reform agenda, and faster growth is expected to further drive down poverty.” The acceleration in growth, according to the World Bank, will be led by investment, which is expected to grow at an average rate of 12% between 2015 and 2017.
However, not all are equally enthused. A recent report (India’s Fiscal Roadblocks Could Stall Infrastructure Progress) by Standard & Poor’s presented a different picture. “India’s public finances are less than rock solid due to long-standing cracks in its budgetary system. While the country’s budgetary performances have strengthened in recent years, its hard-won fiscal improvements could yet unwind because of a financial or commodity shock,” the report said. It also highlighted that further reforms will be required on the fiscal front to be able to sustain higher investment spending. Efficient subsidy spending, which can free up resources for capital spending, is necessary to attain and maintain higher growth in the medium to long term. Both markets and policymakers will do well by paying attention to Standard & Poor’s observations. In fact, a financial or commodity shock can not only affect the progress made on the fiscal front, but also the wider economy.
Riaz Haq said…
If enacted, that (Pak-China Corridor) plan would enable China’s naval vessels and merchants to bypass the Malacca Strait, long a haven for pirates and militants who prey on unsuspecting ships. The CPEC would allow the government and banks in the mainland to lend to Chinese companies operating in Pakistan, facilitating construction along the route. Some of the other line items in the deal aim to fix Pakistan’s failing energy infrastructure: the CPEC calls for $15.5 billion in investments ranging from coal to solar and hydroelectric power, scheduled to become part of Pakistan’s national electricity mix in 2017. That will follow a fiber optic cable linking Xinjiang and Rawalpindi, which will come at the cost of $44 million.

China has plenty of incentive to unleash a spigot of investment, despite fears that Pakistani radicals are stoking violence in Xinjiang among the 10 million Uyghur Muslims that live there. Beijing has already pushed heavily for other projects in the region, including the 1,240 km Karachi-Lahore motorway, a six-lane, high speed corridor expected to be completed in the fall of 2017, and orchestrating upgrades to public transportation, including metro and bus service, in six cities, including Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi. Modernizing the Karakoram highway, which runs 1,300 km from Kashgar, the ancient silk road crossing in Xinjiang, all the way into the heart of the Punjab, Pakistan’s biggest province, will also prove critical.

All of that leads to Gwadar, which China hopes to transform into a free-trade zone on the order of a Singapore or a Hong Kong, another major focus for Chinese investors. That carries geopolitical weight. China’s aid to Pakistan now exceeds American spending, which has totaled $31 billion since 2002. Washington’s investments have slowed since counterterrorism funding authorized by Congress during the Afghan surge has dried up.

It’s not as though China isn’t interested in military issues. President Xi also used the occasion to finalize a deal to send eight submarines to Pakistan, in a long-promised deal. They’re also working to get on shared ideological ground: the Research and Development International think tank (RANDI), will be chaired by Pakistani and Chinese leaders. That unfortunate acronym became the butt of plenty of Twitter jokes on Monday. But the group could wield serious influence, especially in thinking up plans to help Pakistan fight terror and potentially determining the role of mediators in talks with the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

China’s grand plan for Pakistan’s infrastructure has taken shape over the course of President Xi’s visit. It will have a major impact on what the future holds for Islamabad, and the entire Indian Ocean basin.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan: New U.S.-listed ETF set to capitalize on growing interest in Pakistan's markets via @frontiermarkets

China’s launch on Monday of a massive infrastructure-spending plan in Pakistan has brought considerable attention to the South Asian frontier market. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced and launched a $28 billion package of infrastructure deals that will form part of the so-called China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Last weekend, Pakistan’s Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the total Chinese investment into Pakistan would reach $46 billion.

Much of the spending will focus on power and transportation and is expected to boost Pakistan’s already-burgeoning economy. The announcement is also helping the country’s stock market to recover from a slump that saw the MSCI Pakistan index fall by more than a fifth in dollar terms over the two months to the end of March.

China’s colossal investment plan is not the only potentially market-moving news for Pakistan this week. Investment Bank Renaissance Capital yesterday described the country as an “undervalued reform story”, noting that the government is living up to its privatization promises—including its recent record-breaking sale of its stake in private sector banking giant HBL—and delivering reforms that should enhance stock valuations.

Against this backdrop, the timing of the launch of the first Pakistan-focused exchange-traded fund in the U.S. is remarkably fortuitous. U.S.-based ETF provider Global-X is launching the ETF tomorrow on the New York Stock Exchange.

The fund joins a growing list of single-country frontier-market ETFs, including Global-X’s Argentina and Nigeria funds, as well as Market Vectors’ Vietnam fund. Jay Jacobs, research analyst at Global X Funds, says: “With the launch of the … Pakistan ETF, investors now have access to one of the largest, most liquid frontier-market countries.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is another frontier market, full of potential based on growing population and middle class, rapid urbanization and industrialization, and ongoing, albeit slow, economic reforms. However, as with other frontier markets, many political and headline risks paired with weak market regulation continue to prevent Pakistan from receiving serious foreign investment. iShares MSCI Frontier 100 Fund ETF is virtually the only way to get a small 4.7% exposure. A dedicated ETF, Global X Pakistan KSE-30 ETF (PAK) has been in registration since 2010.

The Global X has filed for Next 11 ETF (Pending:NXTE) that will cost 0.75% and track the Solactive Next 11 Index, but its launch date is anyone's guess. Perhaps Global X is looking to launch at the same time as the Pakistan and Bangladesh ETFs to improve liquidity. The largest index provider MSCI in the meantime has come up with its own MSCI Next 11 ex-Iran GDP Weighted Index, which is waiting to be licensed.
Riaz Haq said…
The first Pakistan-focused ETF started trading in New York on Thursday, and the ETF’s launch might be well-timed, as China on Monday unveiled plans to invest $46 billion in the world’s sixth-most populous country.

The launch slot for the Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF PAK, +0.06% is “remarkably fortuitous,” noted Dan Keeler, writing for The Wall Street Journal’s frontier markets blog. He added that China’s massive infrastructure development program (known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is not the only potentially market-moving news this week for Pakistan, as Renaissance Capital on Tuesday described the South Asian nation as an “undervalued reform story” that’s delivering on its privatization promises. Skeptics say China’s planned investment might not materialize, especially if Pakistan continues to serve as a terrorist haven.

Speaking of China, this month also has brought the launch of the first leveraged ETF tied to China’s frenzied mainland stock market. Investors ought to treat this turbocharged product with great care, wrote Barron’s Chris Dieterich on Tuesday, likening the ETF to strapping “a rocket booster to the back of a dragon.” Its full name is the Direxion Daily CSI 300 China A Share Bull 2x Shares ETF. CHAU, -2.85%

The number of foreign single-country ETFs listed in the U.S. has grown to 204. ( data as of Wednesday put the figure at 203, so add the Pakistan product and you get 204.) Excluding leveraged products, there are 177 single-country ETFs.

About 30 new single-country ETFs came to market in 2014, and there are more than twice as many such funds as there were five years, said Ashley Lau in a Reuters report last month. Risks around single-country ETFs include their tendency to trade at much larger premiums or discounts than major U.S. domestic ETFs, she added. Another risk is many such funds have big exposure to a single stock or sector, as a Journal report once noted.
Riaz Haq said…
NEW YORK, April 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Global X Funds, the New York based provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), today launched the Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF (NYSE Arca: PAK). The fund is the first US-listed ETF to focus exclusively on Pakistan, providing investors with access to the largest companies by market capitalization in the country. Goldman Sachs has designated Pakistan as one of the "Next 11" economies – a group of large, fast-growing markets that are expected to be an important source of global economic growth and opportunity in the future.[1]

In addition to being the sixth most populous country in the world with over 196 million people, almost 60% of Pakistan's population is under the age of 25[2]. Pakistan is geographically positioned to benefit from the growing trade among China, India, Russia, Turkey and the Middle East. The country's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also shown a commitment to strengthening its economy, lowering inflation and promoting stability since his election in 2013.
"With the launch of the Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF, investors now have access to one of the largest, most liquid frontier market countries," said Jay Jacobs, research analyst at Global X Funds. As investors search globally for investment opportunities, frontier markets like Pakistan are increasingly garnering attention for their historically low correlations to developed markets and growth potential.
Global X is a New York-based sponsor of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), offering access to investment opportunities across global markets. Founded in 2008, Global X is recognized by individual and institutional investors for its suite of income, international, commodity and alternative funds. With over 40 funds available across U.S. and foreign exchanges, Global X is one of the fastest growing issuers of ETFs. For more information, please visit
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PAK Watchlist

Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume. Certain economies in the Middle East depend to a significant degree upon exports of primary commodities such as oil. A sustained decrease in commodity prices could have a significant negative impact on all aspects of the economy in the region. Middle Eastern governments have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. As an emerging country, Pakistan's economy is susceptible to economic, political and social instability; unanticipated economic, political or social developments could impact economic growth. Pakistan is also subject to natural disaster risk. In addition, recent political instability and protests in the Middle East have caused significant disruptions to many industries. Continued political and social unrest in these areas may negatively affect the value of your investment in the Fund. Pakistan has recently seen elevated levels of ethnic and religious conflict, in some cases resulting in violence or acts of terrorism. Escalation of these conflicts would have an adverse effect on Pakistan's economy. The fund is non-diversified.
Riaz Haq said…
The Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF (Pending:PAK) tracks the MSCI All Pakistan Select 25/50 Index, making it the first ETF to focus on Pakistan's economy."The broad Pakistan equity universe includes securities that are classified in Pakistan according to the MSCI Global Investable Market Index Methodology, together with companies that are headquartered or listed in Pakistan and carry out the majority of their operations in Pakistan," as stated in PAK's prospectus.Broad frontier market ETFs: FM, FRN, EMFM
Riaz Haq said…
For the adventurous, and usually, professional investor, Pakistan has been a rewarding place to invest. Pakistan, classified as a frontier market, was the world’s fifth-best equity market regardless of market classification last year.
In local currency terms, stocks in Pakistan gained 49.4% last year, topping the S&P 500, every benchmark index in Europe and plenty of other emerging and frontier markets along the way. The country is somewhat hard to access for most investors, though one notable exchange traded fund appears likely to increase its allocation to Pakistani stocks in the near-term. [A Strong, Hard to Access Frontier Market]
Index provider MSCI (NYSE: MSCI) said it will boost Pakistan’s weight in the MSCI Frontier Market 100 Index to 8.9%. That index is the underlying index for the $659.9 million iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (NYSEArca: FM), where Pakistan is currently the sixth-largest country weight at just 4.4%.
Pakistan’s increased weight in the frontier index means the combined weight to Kuwait and Nigeria will be trimmed to 40% from 51.3%. It was expected that after Qatar and the United Arab Emirates leave the frontier index next month for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index that Kuwait and Nigeria would combine for over half of the index and FM’s weight. [Defining Frontier Market ETFs]
Pakistan was demoted to frontier status in 2009 after its equity market was closed to sellers for over 100 days during the 2008 global financial crisis, according to news reports. Although Pakistan’s weight in FM will not increase until next month, “the impact of the decision was felt immediately. Foreigners purchased a net of $35.8 million worth of equity at the bourse (last) week and were the prime reason behind the KSE-100’s strong performance,” according to The Express Tribune.
Another ETF already allocates more than 8% of its weight to Pakistan: The EGShares EM Dividend High Income ETF (NYSEArca: EMHD), which debuted in August 2013. Pakistan is EMHD’s fifth-largest country weight at 8.1%. [Compensation With Emerging Markets ETFs]
EMHD’s 48 holdings are reasonably valued, even by the current standards of emerging markets stocks. The ETF sports a P/E ratio of 8.8 and a price-to-book ratio of almost 1.2, according to EGShares data. Pakistan has pushed to regain its emerging markets status, but has thus far been unsuccessful.
Riaz Haq said…
The United States and Pakistan on Wednesday announced to facilitate and accelerate private investment in clean energy projects in Pakistan.

Under this initiative, the US government will work with Pakistan to advance reforms that will allow the US, Pakistani, and international private sector developers and investors to add at least 3,000 megawatts of clean power to Pakistan’s national grid within the next 3-5 years.

“This clean energy initiative will help address Pakistan’s energy challenges,” said US State Department’s Special Envoy for Energy Amos Hochstein during the second US-Pakistan Energy Working Group under the broader US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue framework. “It is a partnership to help alleviate Pakistan’s energy challenges based on a set of goals shared by Pakistan, the United States, multilateral banks, donors, and the private sector.”

Special Envoy Hochstein, Deputy Chief of Mission Williams and a delegation from Washington met Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif and a range of Pakistani government officials to discuss measures to increase cooperation in the clean energy sector. Energy demand in Pakistan is expected to double by 2020. Addressing this challenge will require significant action by the government to institute reforms that create space for private sector support, as well as the support of many countries and institutions.

To advance the goals of this common initiative, the US and Pakistani officials discussed steps to: strengthen regulatory institutions and develop market-based rules to attract private investment; develop an investment strategy for expanding the role of clean energy systems; expand transmission capacity for clean energy projects; and mobilise loans, grants, technical assistance and guarantees needed to manage and reduce private sector risks and leverage private capital into clean power projects.

Helping the energy sector become more market-based is one of the best alternatives to ending the current crisis and ensuring that future demand can be met. Clean power investments in hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass, and natural gas, combined with an expanded effort to improve the efficiency at all parts of the energy sector, will reduce Pakistan’s dependence on foreign fuel sources, help address climate change, improve Pakistan’s energy security, and promote innovation and growth.

This initiative marks a new phase of US energy sector assistance to Pakistan, which since 2010 has contributed over 1,500 megawatts of electricity to Pakistan’s national grid by refurbishing existing hydropower and thermal generation facilities, completing hydropower projects, and improving the operation and efficiency of Pakistan’s transmission and distribution systems. inp

ISLAMABAD: The United States and Pakistan on Wednesday announced to facilitate and accelerate private investment in clean energy projects in Pakistan.

Under this initiative, the US government will work with Pakistan to advance reforms that will allow the US, Pakistani, and international private sector developers and investors to add at least 3,000 megawatts of clean power to Pakistan’s national grid within the next 3-5 years.

“This clean energy initiative will help address Pakistan’s energy challenges,” said US State Department’s Special Envoy for Energy Amos Hochstein during the second US-Pakistan Energy Working Group under the broader US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue framework. “It is a partnership to help alleviate Pakistan’s energy challenges based on a set of goals shared by Pakistan, the United States, multilateral banks, donors, and the private sector.”
Riaz Haq said…
Mariam Adil, a young entrepreneur, is making waves in the Pakistani gaming industry.

According to recent data, Pakistan's software industry employs more than 24,000 people, including many startups like Mindstorm Studios by Ahmed, We R Play by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, and the now famous Caramel Tech Studios in Lahore. Pakistan's developers have achieved new renown thanks to games like “Whacksy Taxi”, which has become one of the most downloaded App Store games in 25 different countries, and other projects like “Stick Cricket”. Firms hold regular “game jams” in Lahore to attract innovators with competitions between young would-be game developers. Jobs at these companies are highly coveted by young people: the workday ends around 4pm, and employees often hang out together afterwards, literally playing games!

Mariam Adil is one of the dynamic women leading this new era of entrepreneurialism in Pakistan, perhaps the country's best-kept secret. While most of the world probably thinks of all Pakistani women as oppressed and chained down by society, there are dozens of bright women entrepreneurs managing incubators and programs in Pakistan today.

Adil is the founder of the Gaming Revolution for International Development (“GRID”), a game development startup that designs low-cost video games to simulate common issues in development fieldwork and teach development skills. Its game “Randomania” serves up scenarios that any development-sector professional can relate to and encourages policy decisions, showing the results of those decisions. Stereowiped, on the other hand, is a boundary-breaker when it comes to race and barriers of prejudice and is a great example of what social impact games can achieve.

Faisal Kapadia recently spoke to Adil about her work and much more.

Faisal Kapadia (FK): Why did you think of forming a company like the grid to solve issues when there is plenty of opportunity available for game developers commercially?

Mariam Adil (MA): Born out of pure inspiration, GRID hits at a niche market and gives me the flexibility to think creatively about pushing the boundaries of technology innovations for creating development solutions. It was less driven by a need to earn money and more by my passion for the idea.
FK: While developing Randomania did you do a lot of research on different situations faced by professionals in the development sector?

MA: My day job at the World Bank allows me to have my hand on the pulse. Having designed and implemented several Impact Evaluations, I am familiar with the challenges that practitioners face while designing randomized control trials. This perspective, put together with feedback from some very supportive colleagues at the World Bank allowed us to make sure Randomania could do justice to the challenges of rigorously evaluating development projects.
FK: What kind of impact do you think a game like Randomania can have? Does it lead to as a test case more cohesive thought or efficiency?

MA: In my opinion, there is a gap between the science of International Development taught to students and development practitioners, and the art of development practiced by professionals in the field. Until now, there have been few tools to bridge that gap – to provide the experiential learning required to practice complex decision-making, at a scale well beyond one to one interaction.

Games like Randomania offer a safe environment to simulate the effects of policies and understand the trade-offs involved in the decision-making process. With a push towards innovative use of technology in international development, and the effectiveness of games as learning tools, the stage is set for development games to be introduced as learning tools for development practitioners and students.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is an important part of the Silk Road strategy as it will be a conduit for Middle Eastern oil, via the Pakistani Port of Gwadar.

Pakistan is not the most stable country though, so massive investment in basic infrastructure like electricity generation is required as a first step to reduce risk. Increased trade and investment will create jobs, which is a crucial aspect of creating a more stable society.

But Pakistan is just the start. You can expect to see much more of these types of projects in the years to come. The main vehicle for financing this investment is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

This is a multilateral bank set up by China. So far, there are about 60 member countries, including Australia, who joined the bank in March this year.

You may remember the furore it caused. The US didn’t want its allies, including Australia, to join. That’s because the AIIB threatens to undermine the influence of both the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, institutions predominantly run and controlled by Washington.

But Australia, the UK and most of Europe didn’t listen. They all signed up to the AIIB, which is expected to launch officially by the end of this year. Only the US, Japan and Canada remain opposed to joining.

The member countries will contribute a total of US$100 billion to the bank, to be used as seed capital to finance infrastructure projects.

But that’s not all. In November 2014 China announced the establishment of a US$40 billion Silk Road Infrastructure Fund. It made its first investment in April this year, a US$1.65 billion hydropower project in Pakistan, part of the broader investment in Pakistan mentioned above.

The aim of the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund is to increase capacity and boost connectivity across the Eurasian and Australasian regions, via land and sea.

You’re probably starting to see now that the scope of this project is massive. This is going to reshape the global economy in the decades ahead, and shift the balance of power away from the US and towards China.

I go into more detail on this shifting dynamic in my special report on the topic, which you’ll get in your inbox tomorrow. Suffice to say, China is taking a very different approach to the US in its rise to global economic dominance.

China doesn’t want the same role as the US currently has. It doesn’t want to police the world and it doesn’t want the yuan to be the world’s reserve currency. It knows that by the US dollar fulfilling this role for decades, it has created huge distortions and imbalances in the global economy…and speculative and fragile financial markets.

I’ll expand on all this tomorrow. For now, understand that trade based infrastructure is the big emerging trend in the global economy right now.

I’ll be honest. I’m pretty bearish on a lot of things; central banks have turned stock markets into casinos, politicians around the world are myopic fools, savers are sacrificed to help the debtors…I could go on and on.

But I am bullish about China’s attempts to redraw the global economic map. Trade-based infrastructure investment is productive investment. Productivity is the driving force behind economic growth, jobs, and wealth creation.

Yes folks, we’re heading into a ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure’. The Asian region will see hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment in the years to come.

Yes, this is a positive for commodities. But resources aren’t the main game this time. There’s another sector set to dominate. The competition for work will be fierce, but there are a few Aussie companies ideally placed to benefit from this emerging new trend.

To find out more about how to play this trend, keep an eye out for my special report tomorrow.


Greg Canavan+,
For The Daily Reckoning
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan In Line For Upgrade to Emerging Market Status

Index provider MSCI has revealed it plans to consider upgrading Pakistan from frontier- to emerging-market status next year.

Citing “a number of positive developments over the course of the past 12 to 18 months,” MSCI said it would include Pakistan on its 2016 review list.

News that Pakistan is being considered for inclusion in the MSCI emerging markets index will be seized upon by a government desperate for international recognition of what it says are its achievements in stabilizing the Pakistani economy.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who came to power in June 2013, inherited low growth, high inflation, a foreign-exchange reserve crisis and crippling electricity shortages. Since then, inflation has dropped sharply and foreign exchange reserves are more comfortable.

The government is now on a mission to boost economic growth from the anemic 3% that it inherited to around 7% by the end of its five-year term. The IMF expects GDP growth to hit 4.3% this year and rise to 4.7% in 2016.

Pakistan has already achieved recognition among frontier-markets analysts, including Renaissance Capital, which describes the country as “the best undiscovered investment opportunity in emerging or frontier markets.”

However, considerable challenges remain. The country is woefully short of electricity, for example, while plans to seriously boost the paltry tax revenues are also yet to come to fruition.

Tax revenues currently stand at around 10% of GDP.

The IMF, which rescued Pakistan with a $6.6bn loan program in 2013, agrees that progress is being made. The multilateral said last month that “strong implementation of reforms… will transform Pakistan into a dynamic emerging market economy.”

Pakistan is banking on help from China, which has a $46bn investment plan intended to address the country’s energy deficit and put in place other infrastructure for industrialization that it is hoped will change Pakistan’s economic trajectory.

The Karachi stock market has delivered stellar performance in recent years. Since the May 2013 election, it has gained more than 70%. News on the possible inclusion in the emerging markets index—a decision on that will be made by MSCI next year—had little immediate impact on the market on Tuesday.

Pakistan was last in the MSCI emerging markets index in 2008 and brokers said its re-inclusion would be positive.

“Not only size of passive fund flows will increase, many large [emerging markets] funds may return back to Pakistan,” Karachi brokerage Topline Securities said in a note on Tuesday.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan To Enter #MSCI #EmergingMarkets Index. #CPEC … $VWO $EDC $EDZ $SCHE $IEMG $EMF $MSF $EEV $EUM $ADRE $EET


Pakistan likely to be added in MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

P/E multiple re-ratings on the cards; discount to regional peers likely to narrow down.

Economy moving forward on a positive track. CPEC - the real game changer.

MSCI is considering reclassifying the Pakistani equity market from frontier to emerging market status on June 14th, 2016.

MSCI - a leading provider of research-based indexes and analytics - announced that it will release on June 14, 2016, shortly after 11:00 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST), the results of the 2016 Annual Market Classification Review. As a reminder, three MSCI Country Indexes are currently included on the review list of the 2016 Annual Market Classification Review: MSCI China A and MSCI Pakistan Indexes for a potential reclassification to Emerging Markets and MSCI Peru Index for a potential reclassification to Frontier Markets.

It is important to note that MSCI is not the only index provider that classifies markets but is considered the reference benchmark for many markets. MSCI and other index providers base their market classification on a number of quantitative measurable and comparative criteria while aiming to avoid qualitative and/or subjective criteria.


Pakistan is a country with a population of 190 million people. Pakistan's GDP stands at USD 250 billion (Year 2015). Pakistan's economy continued to pick up in the fiscal year 2015 as economic reform progressed and security improved. Inflation markedly declined, and the current deficit narrowed with favorable prices for oil and other commodities. Despite global headwinds, the outlook is for continued moderate growth as structural and macroeconomic reforms deepen.

Selected economic indicators (%) - Pakistan 2015 2016 Forecast 2017 Forecast
GDP Growth 4.2 4.5 4.8
Inflation 4.5 3.2 4.5
Current Account Balance (share of GDP) -1.0 -1.0 -1.2
Source : Asian Development Bank


China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a mega project of USD 46+ billion, taking the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China to new heights. The project is the beginning of a journey of prosperity for Pakistan and China's Xinjiang. The economic corridor is about 3,000 kilometers long consisting of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect China's Xinjiang province to the rest of the world through Pakistan's Gwador port.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #ETFs In Focus On Growing Prospects. #CPEC #China #FDI #FII … $FM $FRN $PAK

Pakistan represents an untapped Asian market for U.S. investors. The country's equity market had a bad start to 2016, thanks to the global sell-off and foreign investment outflow primarily from the oil & gas sector.

However, the country is working on a turnaround. Its economy is growing at a decent rate of approximately 4.5% per annum. As per a California software company, NetSol Technologies (NASDAQ:NTWK), the country's 190 million population, with more than 50% being under 25 years of age, could also act as a key catalyst to long-term growth.

In a review of Pakistan's economic program, the IMF positively stated that the country is on a growth trajectory and is expected to benefit from low oil prices and strong investment due to the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The aim of CPEC is to boost Pakistan's infrastructure and its industrial sector.

However, as a caveat, we would like to remind investors that like many other frontier markets, Pakistan is also fraught with political tensions, which might hurt the stock market's potential to outperform at any given time. Additionally, stocks in frontier markets in developing countries generally have smaller market capitalization and lower levels of liquidity than those in large emerging markets. So, investors planning to invest in this market should have a relatively high risk tolerance.

Keeping these points in mind, we highlight the sole ETF tracking Pakistan - the MSCI Pakistan ETF (NYSEARCA:PAK). This ETF looks to track the MSCI All Pakistan Select 25/50 Index, which holds about 37 securities in its portfolio. The fund charges 92 basis points a year. The portfolio is heavy in financials, at 31% of assets, while basic materials (28%) and energy (20%) round off the top three. The top three companies of the fund have almost one-third exposure. The fund has total assets of $5.4 million, with paltry volumes of 3,000 shares. It has gained 6.3% so far this year as of April 29, 2016.

Investors can also consider other ETFs like the Guggenheim Frontier Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:FRN) and the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 Index ETF (NYSEARCA:FM) having significant exposure of 10.2% and 10%, respectively, to Pakistan (see Broad Emerging Market ETFs here).


FRN seeks to match the performance of the BNY Mellon New Frontier DR Index. BNY Mellon defines frontier market countries based on GDP growth, per capita income growth, inflation rate, privatization of infrastructure and social inequalities. With 62 stocks in its basket, the fund has about 43% of assets in the top 10 companies, while financial services has the highest exposure at 42%. With total assets of $38.8 million, it has average volume of 25,000 shares and an expense ratio of 71 basis points. FRN has returned 4.6% so far this year.


FM, holding 107 stocks, is based on the MSCI Frontier Markets 100 Index. The fund has AUM of $16.9 million and trades in average volumes of 388,000. The fund is well diversified, with none of the stocks holding more than 4.7% weight except the top one with 6.3%. Financials dominates in terms of sector exposure, accounting for a whopping 50.2% of total assets. The fund charges an expense ratio of 79 basis points. It has lost 1% in the year-to-date period.

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