Chinese Money Fueling FDI in Pakistan

Pakistan is seeing soaring foreign direct investment (FDI) with improving security and the start of several major energy and infrastructure projects as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), according to the UK's Financial Times business newspaper.

A New High in FDI:

The year 2015 was a bumper year for foreign investment  pouring into Pakistan, says the Financial Times. The country saw 39 greenfield investments adding up to an estimated $18.9 billion last year, according to fDi Markets, an FT data service. This is a big jump from 28 projects for $7.6 billion started in 2014, and marks a new high for greenfield capital investment into the country since fDi began collecting data in 2003.

Pakistan FDI Source:

The number of projects in 2015 is the largest since Pakistan attracted 57 greenfield projects back in 2005 on President Musharraf's watch.  China is now the top source country for investment into the country, surpassing the second-ranked United Arab Emirates, primarily due to its investments in power.

Top 10 Destinations of Chinese FDI 2012-14. Source: UNESCAP

Major CPEC Projects: 

China's Shanghai Electric, a power generation and electrical equipment manufacturing company, announced plans last year to establish a 1,320 megawatt coal-based power project in Thar desert using domestic coal, scheduled to launch in 2017 or 2018. Traditional energy and power projects made up two-thirds of last year’s total greenfield investment into Pakistan at $12.9 billion with alternative energy bringing in a further $1.8 billion.

CPEC Projects

Among the more notable projects, UAE-based Metal Investment Holding Corporation announced plans to partner with Power China E & M International to invest $5 billion to build three coal-fired plants at Karachi’s Port Qasim. In addition, the transportation sector is also showing promise, with 12 projects totaling $3 billion being announced or initiated last year.

Special Economic Zones:

Beyond the initial phase of power and road projects, there are plans to establish special economic zones in the Corridor where Chinese companies will locate factories. Extensive manufacturing collaboration between the two neighbors will include a wide range of products from cheap toys and textiles to consumer electronics and supersonic fighter planes.

The basic idea of an industrial corridor is to develop a sound industrial base, served by competitive infrastructure as a prerequisite for attracting investments into export oriented industries and manufacturing. Such industries have helped a succession of countries like Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong,  Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, China and now even Vietnam rise from low-cost manufacturing base to more advanced, high-end exports.  As a country's labour gets too expensive to be used to produce low-value products, some poorer country takes over and starts the climb to prosperity.

Once completed, the Pak-China industrial corridor with a sound industrial base and competitive infrastructure combined with low labor costs is expected to draw growing FDI from manufacturers in many other countries looking for a low-cost location to build products for exports to rich OECD nations.

Key Challenges:

While the commitment is there on both sides to make the corridor a reality, there are many challenges that need to be overcome. The key ones are  maintaining security and political stability, ensuring transparency, good governance and quality of execution. These challenges are not unsurmountable but overcoming them does require serious effort on the part of both sides but particularly on the Pakistani side. Let's hope Pakistani leaders are up to these challenges.


Pak-China economic corridor is a very ambitious effort by the two countries that will lead to greater investment and rapid industrialization of Pakistan. Successful implementation of it will be a game-changer for the people of Pakistan in terms of new economic opportunities leading to higher incomes and significant improvements in the living standards for ordinary Pakistanis. It will be in the best interest of all of them to set their differences aside and work for its successful implementation.

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Riaz Haq said…
Three Gorges Corp (TGC), #China's leading #hydropower company, to invest in #Pakistan via @ePakistanToday

A consortium, led by China’s Three Gorges Corp, the world’s largest hydropower producer, plans to invest in Pakistan, building both state-owned and private hydropower stations.

” We want to take an active part in the expected auction of the state-owned hydropower stations in the brotherly country,” said Wang Shaofeng, executive vice-president of China Three Gorges International Corporation, the Beijing-based unit of CTG.

There are several large hydropower projects in Pakistan with a total installed capacity of about 3,000 MW, Wang said in an interview with China Daily.

“These could be our top choices for acquisition, but we will also consider acquiring small and newly built private hydropower projects,” said the senior executive, who has previously worked in Pakistan for more than a decade.

The projects that the group has in Pakistan are worth $9 billion. It has signed an agreement with Pakistan for a series of projects that can increase the figure to $50 billion.

The Chinese company chose Pakistan as the first stop of its overseas investment due to close ties between China and Pakistan, a country that faces great challenges in meeting its energy demand. Wang said the 1,100-MW Kohala hydropower station, the group’s biggest project in Pakistan at the moment, is expected to start construction this year and will be completed in six years.

The Chinese company also plans to set up a facility jointly with Dongfang Electric Corporation in Pakistan to support the local market as well as other neighbouring countries.

The company is also preparing to bid for a contract to build and operate an 8,000-MW power station in Brazil.

When bidding opens for the hydropower dam on the Tapajos River, the Chinese consortium will be a strong contender. Wang said his group’s participation in the project would involve capital investment.

The Tapajos dam will become one of the world’s 10 largest hydropower projects after completion, he said.

The builder of the world’s largest dam has also set up a Hong Kong-based company named Hydro Global Investment Ltd with the Portuguese power company EDP – Energias de Portugal – as a platform to explore business opportunities of small and medium-sized hydropower projects in the region.

“When we are doing global projects, we are looking at the long-term development and investment, so we are very careful in selecting the projects and conducting them,” Wang said.

The executive said the biggest challenge the company faces right now is to deal with the exchange rate fluctuations to prevent risk and increase profit in overseas countries.

China itself has embarked on an ambitious plan of dam building to combat air pollution. The Three Gorges Power Plant, the world’s largest hydropower project, has generated more than 800 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity since its first turbine was connected to the grid in 2003.

The world’s largest energy consumer possesses more than half the large-scale hydroelectric plants on earth – that is more than all the plants in Brazil, the United States and Canada combined.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s predicted annual growth rate for the next 10 years is 5.07%, according to the Center for International Development at Harvard University (CID) research published recently.

Pakistan's projected growth rate of 5.07% over the next 10 years is the 12th highest in the world, according to Harvard CID.

Pakistan’s two giant neighbors – China and India – are predicted to grow by 4.28% and 6.98% respectively.

Egypt (5.83%) and Philippines (5.68%) are the only economies among Goldman Sachs' group of Next 11 countries that will grow faster than Pakistan's.

Pakistan’s 5.07% growth rate is above China, which is set to grow by 4.28%.

Except for India, Pakistan will beat all regional economies in growth.

Here are some:

Malaysia 4.89%

Indonesia 4.82

Turkey 4.66

Bangladesh 3.27

UAE 2.16

Saudi Arabia 2.20

Sri Lanka 3.57
Riaz Haq said…
#China leases #Australia Darwin port, making it part of 2 doz China leases overseas, #Pakistan's #Gwadar among them

DARWIN, Australia — The port in this remote northern Australian outpost is little more than a graying old wharf jutting into crocodile-infested waters. On a recent day, there was stifling heat but not a ship in sight. “Our pissy little port,” as John Robinson, a flamboyant local tycoon, calls it.

The financially hurting government of the Northern Territory was happy to lease it to a Chinese company in October for the bargain price of $361 million, raising money for local infrastructure projects.

“We are the last frontier; you take what you can get,” said Mr. Robinson, who is known as Foxy. “The Northern Territory doesn’t have the money for development. Australia doesn’t have it. We need the major players like China.”

But the decision has catapulted the port of Darwin into a geopolitical tussle pulling in the United States, China and Australia.

This month, the United States said it was concerned that China’s “port access could facilitate intelligence collection on U.S. and Australian military forces stationed nearby.”

It may not look like much, but the scruffy port is a strategic gateway to the South China Sea, where China is challenging the United States, and it serves as a host base for the United States Marines, who train here six months a year.

Critics contend that the Chinese bought a front-row seat to spy on American and Australian naval operations.

“There is a deep Chinese interest, driving interest, in understanding how Western military forces operate, right down to the fine details associated with how a ship operates, how it is loaded and unloaded, the types of signals a ship will emit through a variety of sensors and systems,” Peter Jennings, a former Australian defense official who is now the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told a parliamentary inquiry.

China has invested in more than two dozen foreign ports around the world, including a port in Djibouti adjacent to an American military base. But the 99-year Darwin lease was the first time the Chinese had bought into a port of a close American ally hosting American troops.

The Australian government did not consult with Washington, and the parliamentary inquiry showed that the corruption-plagued and unpopular government of the Northern Territory, of which Darwin is the capital, had rushed to lease the port to raise money for new projects before an election.
Riaz Haq said…
#India seeks consular access to #RAW agent arrested in #Balochistan #Pakistan…/102903-India-seeks-consular-access-to-R… …

India’s foreign ministry on Friday said it has sought consular access to an undercover agent of the country’s intelligence agency RAW arrested by Pakistan from Balochistan.

In a statement issued today, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs admitted that the officer was an officer in the Indian Navy, but claimed that he had taken an early retirement from service.

“He (alleged RAW officer arrested in Pakistan) has no link with the government since his premature retirement from the Indian navy,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in the statement.

“We have sought consular access to him. India has no interest in interfering in internal matters of any country,” said the statement.

Pakistan summoned the Indian ambassador on Friday to protest against the illegal entry of the Indian spy.

"(Pakistan) conveyed our protest and deep concern on the illegal entry into Pakistan by a RAW officer and his involvement in subversive activities in Baluchistan and Karachi," Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement, referring to the message conveyed to India’s ambassador.

The capture of the RAW agent is the latest evidence of Islamabad's claim that the neighbouring country is actively trying to destabilize Pakistan.

In a media statement here today, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said that the captured agent is an active Indian serviceman who was active in Balochistan with an aim to destabilise Pakistan.

According to details obtained by Geo News, RAW agent Kul Bhashan Yadav was arrested by a Pakistan’s intelligence agency in Balochistan three days ago and he was later shifted to Islamabad for investigation.

The arrested agent of RAW had contacts with separatist groups operating in Balochistan, sources said, adding that he is a commander in the Indian Navy.

During preliminary investigations, the undercover Indian agent revealed that his main agenda was to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through propaganda and to create disharmony among the Baloch nationalist political parties.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #China to interconnect national grids as Pak becomes #electricity surplus nation in next 3 years. #CPEC …

The Ministry of Water and Power and the State Grid Corporation of China are working closely to build an interconnecting electricity grid between the two countries to enable them to utilise each other’s energy potential.

Water and Power Secretary Muhammad Younus Dagha stated this at the Global Energy Interconnection Conference in Beijing where more than 700 delegates were present.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, the secretary said the building of the interconnecting grid would allow Pakistan to meet its growing energy demand according to the requirement.

On the other hand, China will benefit from the clean energy potential in Pakistan, especially the hydroelectric power generation along the Indus River cascade, which is on the route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Dagha said Pakistan was very much positioned to become an energy corridor for the region and facilitate the exchange of clean energy in South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and China. Speaking about the Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1,000 power supply project, Dagha stressed that Pakistan had a unique geographical position as it was strategically located at the confluence of South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and China.

He noted that Pakistan was moving fast to bridge the deficit and become an energy-surplus country in the next three years.

“We hope to become self-sufficient in power generation by 2018, still we will be left with an untapped potential of more than 60,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power,,” he said.

Pakistan also has an untapped potential for more than 90,000MW of wind power in its south and an unlimited solar power potential across 850,000 square km of its area.
Riaz Haq said…
Report: #Pakistan Sees 40 Percent Drop in Violence in 2015. #Terrorism …

A leading rights group in Pakistan says deaths due to violence-related incidents, including bombings and other militant attacks in the country, fell 40 percent in 2015.

In its annual report released Friday, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) documented 4,612 deaths compared to 7,622 fatalities in the previous year.

The findings support official claims of a reduction in casualties because of successes in the army's counter-militancy operations against bases of the anti-state Pakistani Taliban near the Afghan border.

The report comes after Sunday’s suicide bombing in a park in Lahore that killed at least 72 people, including members of the minority Christian community, who were celebrating Easter.

Speaking to reports at the launch of the report in Islamabad, HRCP’s Kamran Arif told reporters his organization recorded 706 militant attacks in Pakistan, the lowest number since 2008.
Riaz Haq said…
#China-#Pakistan logistics complex construction. #CPEC #Internet #Ecommerce #Warehouse #Transport #Manufacturing …

Construction on a logistics complex that will deepen bilateral trade between China and Pakistan began in Xinjiang on Friday.

According to the government, the project that began in Tashkurghan Tajik county covers an area of 883 mu (about 58 hectares) and will take a total investment of 3 billion yuan ($464 million), Xinhua reported.

The first stage of the three-stage project includes an internet service administration centre, a cross-border e-commerce enterprise incubator, and a modern warehousing and logistic centre, Xinhua reported.

In the meantime, a comprehensive transportation system, especially for cross-border and cold-chain logistics, will be further developed. RMB settlement will be introduced as well.

Further stages will see the completion of a commodity exhibition centre, manufacturing and assembly factories, hotels, entertainment facilities and vehicle maintenance station.

The county of Tashkurghan sits 3,200 metres above sea level in the Pamirs, linking Xinjiang's Kashgar and the port city of Gwadar in Pakistan.

The county's Karasu Customs, China's only land port open to Tajikistan and an important post along the planned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, officially opened last year after 10 years of preparation.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan economy picking up, inflation low, says State Bank of Pakistan. #LSM #CPEC …

SBP says strong LSM output to bolster growth

KARACHI: Pakistan’s economy will pick up further during the second half of the current fiscal year thanks to the stable growth in large scale manufacturing sector on the start of multibillion rupees resource projects and a good winter rains this season that will bolster agriculture production, the central bank said on Thursday.

“Despite challenging global economic conditions, Pakistan’s overall macroeconomic outlook appears stable,” the State Bank of Pakistan said in its ‘Second Quarterly Review on the State of Pakistan’s Economy’. “Growth is likely to pick up… fiscal position is strong; inflation is likely to stay low and ricks on the external front have been moderate to a large extent.”

The bank, however, kept its growth forecast unchanged at 4-5 percent for the current fiscal year of 2015/16. The SBP’s growth forecast is still below than the government target of 5.5 percent. The economy grew at a rate of 4.2 percent in the last fiscal year ended June 2015.

The central bank said a stable macroeconomic environment means that the economic growth would maintain the momentum.

“We expect GDP growth during the FY16 to be higher than the last fiscal… We are optimistic on the industrial sector’s performance but cannot firmly assess the final outcomes in agriculture and services,” the SBP said.

It said the growth momentum in large scale manufacturing (LSM) continued to remain strong in the first half of the current fiscal year, supported by better energy supplies, lower commodity prices and accommodative polices.

The LSM sector grew 3.9 percent in the first half of the current fiscal against 2.7 percent in the previous year of the same period. Major contribution to LSM growth came from auto, fertiliser and construction allied industries.

On the agriculture sector performance, the central bank said the prospects of surpassing targets in wheat and value addition in livestock are strong. “While initial estimates suggest a decline in area under wheat cultivation, a marked improvement in yields has increased hopes for a bumper for a third year in a row; timely rains and better input availability have reported improved the per-acre harvest,” the bank said.

The SBP, however, also said overall growth does not portray a very encouraging picture in agriculture sector. “Preliminary estimates suggest that all Kharif crops have missed their respective targets; cotton and rice did not achieve last year’s production level.”

The central bank highlighted the public debt servicing obligations, which were not more than six billion dollars per annum until 2020. “Debt servicing of $5 billion due on 2016 are well within manageable level considering the present level of foreign exchange level,” the central bank said.

The SBP estimated the current fiscal year’s inflation at 3-4 percent below the target of six percent. “The global commodity prices are not expected to recover anytime soon, and on the other, a stable Pak Rupee is likely to keep inflation expectations further at bay,” it added.

The central bank maintained the lower inflation estimates on the government move to reduce domestic petrol prices by 6.6 percent and 11.9 percent in February and March 2016, respectively, following the freefall of oil prices to a 12-year low level in the international market.

The bank said measures taken by the government in October 2015 would help the Federal Board of Revenue to maintain revenue collection growth. Expenditures will remain within target, it added.

It said that the decline in oil prices allowed a 39.8 percent fall in the country’s oil import bill, helping reduce the trade deficit by 1.6 percent in the first half. Furthermore, the pass-through of low prices by the government has contributed in pushing down the consumer price index inflation to a multi-decade low.
Riaz Haq said…
From United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO):

Pakistan Manufacturing Value Added (MVA):

MVA per capita at constant 2005 prices increased from US$135.03 in 2005 to $143.84 in 2014

MVA as percentage of GDP at constant 2005 prices in US$ decreased from 18.05% in 2005 to 17.41% in 2014

India Manufacturing Value Added (MVA):

MVA per capita at constant 2005 prices increased from US$155.73 in 2005 to $168.42 in 2014

MVA as percentage of GDP at constant 2005 prices in US$ decreased from 15.10% in 2005 to 13.85% in 2014

China tops the list of world's 10 largest industrial producers. It is followed by the US, Japan, Germany and South Korea, according to United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO).

India ranks 6th in the world in terms of total manufacturing output in 2013, up from 9th place in 2008,

India's manufacturing value added (MVA) per capita of 161.7 in 2013 is among the lowest in the world. It's up from 131.9 in 2008.

In fact India's 2008 MVA per capita of 131.9 was lower than Pakistan's 141.1. Since 2008, Pakistan's MVA per capita has slipped to 139.1 in 2013 while India's has increased to 161.7 in this period.

Bangladesh's MVA per capita has jumped from 82.2 in 2008 to 118.3 in 2013.

On UNIDO’s industrial competitiveness index, most industrialized countries lost ground in the last three years. Among the five most competitive are four high-income countries (Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States), along with China ranking fifth. The four are among the world’s most industrialized countries and, with China, account for 59 percent of world MVA.
Riaz Haq said…
SeekingAlpha on Pakistan:

Terrorist attacks are coming down.

Reclassification into Emerging Markets is highly probable.

Growth rate is on an upward trajectory.

In this article, I would apprise investors about the latest developments in Pakistan's economy, effecting NYSE: PAK ETF. Further, I would also give my opinion and analysis based on that development.

One of the biggest news items that poured out of Pakistan was the suicide attack in Lahore, the second largest city of Pakistan, killing more than 70 people and rendering more than 100 injured. In my view, attacks like these are desperation on the part of militants as they are being denied space from all quarters within Pakistan. I believe, after the successful completion of on-going military operations in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area), the security environment will become much more conducive as compared to current situation.

if we compare the number of bomb blasts to those which occurred during 2008-2013 era, then the security environment has improved remarkably. As the above graph shows, the trend is on downward trajectory. However, it is incumbent on the law enforcement apparatus of Pakistan to halt even sporadic incidents that have been happening lately.

Granted, Pakistan has a law and order issue, which is largely limited to its western border but global financial markets have already incorporated its turbulent situation by jacking up the CRP (country's risk premium). I assume Pakistan's CRP would come down, given improving security landscape.

Further, MSCI has started discussions on possible reclassification of MSCI Pakistan index from frontier to emerging markets. Market participants expect $500 million of foreign investment to flow into Pakistani equities, if Pakistan reclassifies into an EM index. I think, the market has started factoring in the highly probable reclassification as there is a sudden surge in the volumes and index points. On Friday, the benchmark index broke the psychological barrier of 33,000 points with a rebound in volumes which clocked in at ~204 m against the CYTD (Calendar year to Date) average of ~125 m.
Riaz Haq said…
An #Indian analyst unhappy about #China-#Pakistan alliance gaining momentum | The Japan Times #CPEC #India

The recently expanded Gwadar deepwater port in Pakistan that is part of the so-called China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is nearing completion.

According to Zhang Baozhong, chairman and CEO of China Overseas Ports Holding Company Ltd, “The port cranes are almost ready, and we are thinking that the port will be (at) full operation by the end of this year.” The port will process about 1 million tons of cargo next year, most of which will be incoming construction materials to be used in projects related to CPEC. The port city Gwadar, in southwestern Baluchistan province, is central to the CPEC.

Pakistan’s army chief has accused regional rival India of attempting to undermine the $46 billion project with China. Speaking at a development conference on the impact of CPEC, Pakistan’s chief of army staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, stated: “I must highlight that India, our immediate neighbor, has openly challenged this development initiative. … I would like to make a special reference to Indian intelligence agency RAW, which is blatantly involved in destabilizing Pakistan. Let me make it clear that we will not allow anyone to create impediments and turbulence in any part of Pakistan.”

Chinese-Pakistani collusion against India has taken new turns recently. Despite Modi government’s attempts to improve ties with Pakistan and China, both have responded negatively so far. The writing is very clear on the wall and has been for quite some time. The Pakistani military-intelligence complex has no interest in a rapprochement with India and they made it a point to scuttle the growing Sharif-Modi bonhomie. Last month, Pakistani authorities announced they captured a suspected Indian spy in Baluchistan, identified as Kulbhushan Jadhav. The military also aired video footage of Jadhav saying he was working out of his base in Chabahar in neighboring Iran.

The Pakistani investigation team that visited Pathankot ended up suggesting that the Pathankot attack at the end of December was in fact staged by Indian agencies. This was followed by the Pakistani high commissioner announcing the suspension of Indo-Pakistani peace talks. China then turned the screws tighter and made it a point to scuttle the nascent counterterror cooperation between Delhi and Beijing. By insisting that designation of any individual as terrorist by U.N. is a “serious issue,” China blocked the U.N. from banning Jaish-e-Mohammad chief and Pathankot strike mastermind Masood Azhar by the global body. The Jan. 2 attack at Pathankot was followed by a raid on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan that has also been linked to Jaish-e-Mohammad, or the Army of Mohammad. Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were also behind the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.

The Chinese-Pakistani relationship has now moved beyond the “higher than Himalayas and sweeter than honey” phase. Chinese strategists are openly talking of Pakistan as their nation’s only real ally. China’s submarine operations in the Indian Ocean and the Chinese-Pakistani naval cooperation are challenging naval supremacy and have the potential to change the regional naval power balance. China is also busy redefining the territorial status quo in the region. By deciding to construct major civil, energy and military infrastructure projects in the CPEC, which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, China has accorded de facto “legitimacy” to Pakistan’s illegal occupation of these areas.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #Habib Bank granted #Chinese licence to operate in #China. #CPEC #Gwadar …

The Habib Bank Limited said on Monday it had won a licence to operate a branch in the Chinese city of Urumqi, the first South Asian bank to be granted such a licence.

The opening of the Pakistani bank in Urumqi, the capital of the violence-prone far-western region of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan, will deepen ties between the two countries that last year signed a $46 billion agreement for infrastructure and energy projects.

“HBL will be establishing banking operations in Urumqi, the largest city of the province of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan along the traditional Silk Route,” the bank said in a statement.

Up until April Pakistan’s government held a 42.5 percent stake in Habib, the country’s oldest bank.

But it sold off its shares as part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plan to privatise 68 public institutions, bringing in more than $1 billion.

Pakistan last year signed an agreement for projects worth $46 billion with China to set up a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in a boost to Pakistan’s crumbling infrastructure and energy sector.

In return, China will get a free trade zone in Pakistan’s Gwadar port and access to the Arabian Sea.

New Pakistani roads will open up routes for Chinese goods into Europe and the Middle East from landlocked Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#India, #Iran and #Afghanistan finalize #Chabahar Trilateral Agreement. #Pakistan #China #CPEC #Gwadar …

India, Afghanistan and Iran have finalised the text of the trilateral agreement of Chabahar (Chabahar Agreement) for developing international transport transit corridor, which will provide India access to Afghanistan through the Iranian port of Chabahar. The text has been finalised, in the 2nd technical meeting between the representatives of the three countries on April 11, New Delhi.

Situated in Sistan and Baluchistan province of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Port of Chabahar will help in facilitating maritime trade between the countries of the region. The port will also considerably reduce the transportation cost of commercial goods in the region.

Situated in the Gulf of Oman, the route via Chabahar port to Afghanistan will provide India the much-needed access to send goods to Afghanistan and regions of Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

The announcement of the finalisation of the Agreement came after the visit of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Iran, on April 16, where she discussed the participation of India in Chabahar Port and other matters related to connectivity and energy cooperation.

A release by the Ministry of External Affairs of India stated that when the agreement comes into effect it will considerably enhance the use of Chabahar Port, contribute to Afghanistan’s economic growth and facilitate better connectivity between the region, especially India’s connectivity to Afghanistan as well as Central Asia.

“The agreement will be a strategic bulwark for larger flow of goods and people between the three nations and the region,” it added.

The statement said the trilateral agreement to be expedited at a high level after finishing the essential internal procedures in the three countries.
Riaz Haq said…
#Balochistan separatist Naela Qadir in #Canada: #India is our friend,no problem being called #RAW agents" #Pakistan

Baloch separatist Naela Qadir Baloch, now living in exile in Canada, is touring India for the past several days to talk about Balochstan

"Every other day the construction activities of this corridor (CPEC) come under attack from our boys. The roads which are being built are destroyed and recently a radar station was destroyed due to which the visit of Chinese Prime Minister to Gwadar was cancelled casuing much embarrassment to Pakistan government. China is looting the resources of our province including the gold reserves and turning a blind eye to the genocide of the Baloch"
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #China to launch remote sensing satellite to monitor #CPEC projects - #SUPARCO #CGWIC The Economic Times

Pakistan and China have signed an agreement for the launch of a special satellite to monitor the development of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal on behalf of Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) President Yin Limping signed the agreement here yesterday.

The two sides agreed for the development and launch of the 'Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS-1) System' and in this regard launch a satellite in June 2018, Dawn reported.

Speaking on the occasion, Iqbal said that bilateral cooperation between the two countries in space domain would open new vistas of socio-economic and scientific cooperation, giving boost to the historic bilateral cordial relations in other fields.

Space technology is fundamental in socio-economic development, infrastructure upgradation, agriculture production, urban planning in new age, he added.

The minister said that the agreement would also transfer space technology to Pakistan and the PRSS-1 is yet another flagship project between China-Pakistan relations after CPEC.

It would go a long way to redefine the bilateral relations, he said.

The new project would also help Pakistan in national security arena by strengthening border security and surveillance apparatus, Iqbal said.

The CPEC is a $46 billion project launched with the help of China to connect western China to southern Pakistan's port city of Gawadar, giving Beijing an opening to the Arabian Sea.

India has been protesting the corridor's passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir ever since the project was kicked off by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Islamabad last year.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s Enormous Long-Term #Growth Potential. Young #demographics, expanding #economy, #CPEC … via @barronsonline

To Western eyes, building a business in Pakistan seems nearly impossible with the country’s history of political turmoil and bouts of deadly terrorism committed by Islamic extremists.

But there is a long-term growth story in the frontier market, where the economy is expanding at a roughly 4.5% annual pace. As part of a $6.6 billion loan package, the International Monetary Fund got the country to raise taxes and cut subsidies—notably for electric power. But the IMF program expires this year, a key risk. Still, the IMF noted in a recent review that Pakistan has shored up foreign reserves thanks to low oil prices, and it praised the creation of an independent monetary-policy committee. It also acknowledged that restructuring or privatizing ailing public enterprises has been disappointingly slow.

The key to long-term growth is Pakistan’s population. At roughly 190 million, it is the sixth largest in the world. Importantly, more than half of Pakistan’s citizens are under age 25, eager for education and interested in success, says Najeeb Ghauri, CEO and founder of NetSol Technologies (ticker: NTWK), a California software company with a Pakistani campus.

“Contrary to the negative headlines,” says T. Rowe Price frontier markets portfolio manager Oliver Bell, “Pakistan has been slowly progressing on a much more stable path; we saw successful elections and the peaceful handover of power in 2013, and the new government has shown a commitment to adhere to the IMF program.” Bell adds that Pakistan’s aggressive privatization of companies “is creating liquidity and buying opportunities” in its stock market.

ONE OF THE BEST WAYS for retail investors to access this growth—a decidedly long-term bet—is the Global X MSCI Pakistan exchange-traded fund (PAK). The year-old ETF’s total return is negative 11% since inception. But that’s better than the iShares MSCI Frontier Market ETF (FM) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), which each fell 18%.

Financials account for a third of the Pakistan ETF, and Bell likes banks. A favorite is Pakistan’s largest lender, Habib Bank (HBL.Pakistan), which the government took public last year. A high percentage of Pakistan’s population don’t use banks, and Bell expects expanded loan growth. China’s investment in Pakistan’s infrastructure, especially power plants, should boost long-term growth. Earnings on Friday beat analysts’ expectations. Bell thinks the bank’s return on equity can expand to 25% in 2018 from 17% in 2013. But he doesn’t think the stock is expensive, at 1.4 times book value, given its growth and 8% yield.

Of note: Habib Bank’s New York branch got an enforcement order from U.S. authorities in December, after they found repeated “significant breakdowns” in anti-money-laundering efforts.

Multinationals are taking notice of Pakistan’s strides. Coca-Cola (KO) is expanding its Pakistan operations, which boasted double-digit growth in the latest quarter, says Curt Ferguson, president of Coke’s Middle East and North Africa business. He told Barron’s last week, “Pakistan is growing again. We just made a huge investment near the India-Pakistan border, in Mutan, which has a gorgeous new airport. Pakistan would really surprise people.”

Perhaps, but not everyone wants the risk. Paul Christopher, global strategist at Wells Fargo, told us that Pakistan is among the frontier markets whose volatility makes it “not investible.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's rising volume of lending a positive sign- all economic indicators up except exports down double digits

The latest trend of rising volume of commercial lending to the private sector coupled with larger industrial output and better energy supply and rising FDI inflows are now signalling a significant uptick of the Pakistani economy in FY-2017 that starts from July 1. Commercial banks' lending to the private sector rose by Rs352.3 billion so far in FY-16 as compared to Rs222.3 billion in the same period of FY-15, the latest statistics by Stat Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed.

"A significant part of this credit was availed by the private sector businesses. There was a high credit off-take in December 2015 which was enough to compensate for the lower cumulative flow during the earlier months of FY-16," the SBP said. The demand for the private sector credit was high due to lower cost of credit and better market conditions. The cost of borrowing declined to six per cent - an all time low in last 12 years - as a result of SBP's easy money policy.

At the same time, there was a "high deposit growth, and a lower government budgetary borrowing," which created a surplus with the banks that was lent to the private sector. "The improvement in credit to the private sector over the previous year, primarily, was due to larger borrowing by the manufacturing sector, followed by commerce and trade, construction and electricity."

The SBP also reported that with the exception of ship breaking which received Rs13.4 billion credit that was lower than the sectors past borrowing, the improvement in larger credits to other sector was broad-based. While credit for working capital and fixed investment categories, showed higher growth. But credit for trade financing was lower. One of the reasons for larger lending to the private sector was that government borrowing to cover its big budgetary deficit was lower than last year. In fact, government was funding its requirements by launching its longer - term investment bonds, rather than short-term and more expensive borrowing from the commercial banks which also had squeezed the bank credit for the private sector.

That covers the broad spectrum of the commercial lending. Does it also indicate in which direction is the economy moving?

Another key factor for a potentially good omen for the economy to grow faster is expansion of the large-scale manufacturing (LSM) sector. Its output growth rose 4.35 per cent year-on-year in the first eight months July-February of FY-16. In February, 2016 alone the LSM sector growth was 2.83 per cent higher as compared to the like month of FY-15, according to the SBP report. The key sub-sectors which contributed to the LSM growth in the first eight months of FY-16 were: automobiles 27.67 per cent, fertiliser 16.95 per cent, chemicals 11.26 per cent, leather products 11.51 per cent, rubber products 11.64 per cent, and non-metallic mineral products 8.61 per cent.

In the same period, iron and steel sector produced 19.76 per cent more billets and ingots. The capacity of the sector also expanded in this period in order to feed lager exports. The automobiles sector expanded as production of trucks rose 44.23 per cent, buses 77.54 per cent, cars and jeeps 37.10 per cent, light commercial vehicles (LCVs) 104.45 per cent, and motorcycles was up 17.1 per cent. However, tractor production was down 44.65 per cent.

In the electronics sector, production of air conditions rose 28.05 per cent, switch gear by 28.14 per cent, electric transformers 1.8 per cent, TV sets 1.74 per cent and storage batteries 2.89 per cent, besides various rises in production of other electronics.

Riaz Haq said…
#China to finance 90% of #Sukkur-#Multan Motorway in #Pakistan. #CPEC | DailyTimes - via @Shareaholic

China will provide 90 percent of the financial assistance for the 393-kilometre Sukkur-Multan Motorway, whereas remaining cost of the project will come from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

An official of the National Highway Authority Thursday said that physical work on the Sukkur-Multan Motorway costing Rs 294 billion had been started.

It is also a part of eastern route under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will be completed within three years costing Rs 294 billion, the official said.

This motorway passing through Multan-Jalalpur Peerwala Ahmedpur East, Ubaro, Panno Aqil will terminate at Sukkur. Total 54 bridges will be constructed, including one major bridge on Sutlej, he added.

The official further said Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9), which connects Karachi to Hyderabad, is going to be 136-kilometre long with 16 exits and is going to cost about Rs 24 billion.

He said the M-9 would later be linked to the Karachi-Lahore and Karachi-Gwadar motorways to constitute the longest tract in the motorway network.

The National Highway Authority (NHA), the official said, is taking all possible measures to ensure the timely completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

"The CPEC project comprises modern highway and railway transportation system linking Kashgar in West China to Khunjerab in the north and onwards to Karachi and Gwadar in the south of Pakistan through multiple routes," he added.

He said that a number of sections of this mega project had been completed and remaining sections were under construction. He said that the 784-kilometer segment from Khunjerab to Burhan consists of Karakoram Highway (KKH), out of which 335 kilometre from Khunjerab to Raikot had already been upgraded.

The official said that the remaining part from Raikot to Islamabad was divided into three sub sections of Raikot-Thakot, Thakot-Havelian and Havelian-Burhan.

He said the construction work on 120-kilometre Thakot-Havelian section of the road has started after its ground breaking by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently. He said that the work on 59-kilometre Burhan-Havelian section also known as Hazara Motorway was going smoothly and it would be completed by end of 2017 at a cost of Rs 34 billion.

The official said that work on 288km section of the western corridor from Burhan to Dera Ismail Khan would start within weeks. He said the project had been divided into five smaller sections so that work could be completed according to the given time frame. He said that Rs 13 billion PC-1 for acquiring the land required for the project had been approved.

The project envisages construction of 285km four-lane expressway from Hakla on M-1 to DI Khan near Yarik on N-55 as part of western route of the CPEC, he said.
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.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan misses GDP goal for 2015-16. Actual 4.7% vs target 5.5%. #Service sector grows 5.7%. #Agri shrinks 0.19%

The country missed the economic growth target for the current financial year by a wide margin mainly because of widespread dismal performance by the agriculture sector. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.7 per cent against the target of 5.5pc.

At a meeting on Friday of the national accounts committee comprising senior representatives from the four provinces and regions and technical experts, the performance of all economic sectors was added up that showed higher than targeted growth by the industrial sector. The services sector achieved its growth target of 5.7pc.

But the most worrying aspect of the year was a 0.19pc negative growth by agriculture as a whole against the target of 3.9pc.

Cotton output led the freefall in the agriculture sector, considered the backbone of the national economy, as it posted a negative growth of 27pc. The cotton output stood at 10.1 million bales against the target of 13.96m bales. Last year, its output stood at 13.9m bales with a 9.5pc growth.

As a result, cotton ginning declined by 21pc against the target of 5pc. Important crops output fell by 7.18pc against the target of 3.2pc, while other crops fell by 6.2pc against the target of 4.5pc.

Wheat production grew by a meager 0.61pc to 25.47 million tonnes.

The livestock sector grew by 3.63pc, but remained short of the 4.1pc target, while fisheries increased by 3.3pc, surpassing the 3pc target. Forestry was the only saving grace in the agriculture sector as it grew by 8.8pc against the target of 4pc.

On an overall basis, industry grew by 6.8pc against the target of 6.4pc. It was supported by the construction and electricity sectors — the linchpins of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government’s development focus.

Last year, industry had grown by 3.6pc.

The mining and quarrying sector grew by 6.8pc against the target of 6pc, but the overall manufacturing sector could not meet growth expectations. The manufacturing sector posted a growth of 5pc, but remained short of the 6.1pc target. It had grown by 3.2pc last year.

The most important sector in industrial domain — large scale manufacturing (LSM) — also could not meet its growth target of 6pc. It grew by 4.6pc. LSM had improved by only 2.4pc last year. Small and household manufacturing grew by 8.2pc against the target of 8.3pc.

The construction sector grew by 13.1pc as it went beyond the 8.5pc target, while electricity generation and gas distribution improved by 12.2pc against the target of 6pc.

The services sector could meet the target of 5.7pc, but this was mainly supported by an increase in the salary of government employees. This was evident from an 11.13pc growth in general government services against the target of 6pc.

Transport, storage and communication services grew by 4.1pc against the target of 6.1pc, while wholesale and retail trade improved by 4.57pc against the target of 5.5pc.

The finance and insurance sector exceeded the target of 6.5pc with a 7.1pc growth. Housing services stood at 3.99pc against the target of 4pc.

Likewise, other private services improved by 6.64pc against the target of 6.4pc.
Riaz Haq said…
'ICBC is positive on #Pakistan's future,' CEO, Industrial & Commercial Bank of #China #CPEC | Business Recorder

BRR: How important will CPEC be for ICBC?

HS: CPEC is the landmark of trade and economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. We cannot praise more of its significance to the governments and commercial sectors of both countries. As the only Chinese commercial bank that has set up branches in Pakistan, ICBC of course plays an indispensable role in the development of CPEC. Firstly, CPEC brings mega infrastructure and energy projects to Pakistan and ICBC, with its global financial capacity, is undoubtedly the natural partner for the finance of these big projects.

Secondly, along with CPEC, more and more Chinese enterprises are coming to Pakistan and seeking for business opportunities. ICBC, as the local Chinese commercial bank, will serve as an important channel for such clients to understand better the environment of investment in Pakistan. In addition, CPEC also sets a sound foundation for the usage of cross-border RMB settlement and ICBC is an incomparable expert in providing quality services to our customers in this area.

As a matter of fact, ICBC is already playing an indispensable role in CPEC, being one of the major finance providers to the major projects. During Chinese President Xi's visit to Pakistan last year, ICBC signed four contracts worth $4.5 billion. So far, the international syndications led by ICBC for projects such as Thar Coal mine and Power station, Dawood Wind Power and Sachal Wind Power have reached financial closure and started drawing down. Other projects such as SK Hydropower Station and Sahiwal Coal Power Station are also soon to reach financial closure. In the mean time, ICBC are also acting as agent bank and custodian bank for many projects of CPEC, ensuring the safety and convenience of the fund management.

BRR: What is your view on Pakistan's economy?

HS: Pakistan is one of the major developing economies with great geographical advantages and her importance as an economy in South Asia cannot be exaggerated. It is of great significance to maintain fast and sustainable economic development of Pakistan for the overall regional economy. ICBC holds a firm and positive view on the future development of Pakistan economy.

A country with the sixth largest population in the world, Pakistan shows huge potential for economic development and is drawing greater attention from international investors. As we shall see, with CPEC going further, Pakistan will benefit a great deal from future investment and infrastructure construction. It is based on such a positive view that ICBC has adopted a long term strategy for the business in Pakistan. ICBC Lahore Branch, the third ICBC branch in Pakistan, was formally inaugurated with the witness of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani prime minister Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in April 2015, as a high praise of ICBC's presence in Pakistan as well as an indicator of the level of friendly commitment between the two nations. The set-up of Lahore Branch also proves ICBC's long term view and commitment to the local market.

BRR: Will your bank have a role to play with the CPEC investment coming in?

HS: As I have mentioned above, as the largest commercial bank in China, ICBC will primarily focus on facilitating and boosting the trade and economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. It is not just our commitment but also our business foundation to give support to the smooth development of CPEC related projects. With the fast development of local economy, ICBC will be more confident in business operation in Pakistan. For the mutual benefits of China and Pakistan, ICBC will continue to bring her global advantages to Pakistan, give funding and advisory support to local and Chinese enterprises, and make memorable contributions to CPEC.
Riaz Haq said…
Financial Times: #Pakistan closes in on #MSCI upgrade. #Economy up 4.5%, #Terrorism deaths down 74%. Shares cheap.

Terrorism-related deaths have fallen 74 per cent from their 2010 peak, economic growth has accelerated to a solid 4.5 per cent, inflation has fallen sharply to around 3.3 per cent and the fiscal deficit has narrowed markedly to around 4.1 per cent of gross domestic product.
Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, an emerging market-focused investment bank, says, on a per capita basis, the likelihood of being killed by a gun in the US is now higher than that of dying as a result of terrorism in Pakistan.
But now the country may be about to be get some potentially bad news — an upgrade from frontier to emerging market status by MSCI.
The index provider is due to rule on whether Pakistan has done enough to be promoted to EM status on June 14. And while this would be seen by many as a feather in Pakistan’s cap, at least one analyst believes it would have a sting in its tail — a partial exodus by foreign investors.
Pakistan currently has a weight of 8.8 per cent in the MSCI Frontier index (making it the fourth largest country after Kuwait, Argentina and Nigeria) but is only likely to account for around 0.19 per cent of admittedly much more widely followed MSCI EM index if promoted.
As a result, Hasnain Malik, regional head of frontier markets equity strategy at Exotix Partners, an investment bank focused on smaller markets, believes that, in theory at least, “in terms of potential funds flow, the ‘upgrade’ to MSCI EM would be a negative event”.
Admittedly, Mr Malik says this calculation is based on a “simplistic” assumption that all frontier funds currently holding Pakistani stocks would sell as the new wave of EM funds moves in, which may or may not happen.
Others disagree, however, believing that an upgraded Pakistan would attract net inflows from foreign funds, even though it would have the second-lowest weighting in the 24-nation MSCI EM index, above only the Czech Republic.
“Frontier funds are quite index agnostic and I believe would be in no hurry at all to sell,” says Daniel Salter, head of emerging market equity strategy at Renaissance Capital. “They are often able to hold off-index countries such as Saudi, UAE, Qatar and Egypt.”
When it comes to attracting fresh cash from actively managed EM funds, which of course would not need to buy even in the event of Pakistan’s promotion, Mr Salter believes their nose for a bargain will play a role.
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of Seeking Alpha travel report on meeting Pakistani companies at investors conference in Dubai:

We met a diverse set of thirteen companies across the auto, banking, cement, consumer staple, insurance, media and power sectors and the mood amongst the corporates and other investors regarding the Pakistani economy in general was positive.

The CPEC is a part of China's One Belt One Road initiative and it consists of investing a total of USD 45 billion over a fifteen year period in power, road and port projects. The majority of investment is expected to be in the power sector with a total of ~USD 34 billion to be spent on putting up new power capacity primarily using coal-based power plants. These new power projects are expected to lead to an increase of ~17,000 megawatts in generation capacity and this can go a long way in resolving the power deficit that Pakistan currently faces. Any improvement in the power situation will only be a positive for economic growth as there is a power deficit at present due to the mismatch between generation capability and demand.

The other CPEC-related investments are linked to infrastructure projects such as highways, rail networks and ports. An important infrastructure initiative within the CPEC is the Gwadar port related project which besides further developing the port also includes an international airport and a highway. The CPEC could be a big positive for the Pakistani economy and though there is execution risk, the project is expected to be geopolitically important to both China and Pakistan.

Some of the companies we met were existing holdings and some we were meeting for the first time. From our existing holdings, the company which we like and which we met with is "The Searle Company Ltd.," a pharmaceutical company which focuses on generic products. It is amongst the Top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the country in terms of revenue and it has a strong presence in the cardio vascular, gastro and cough syrup space. Revenues and profits for the company have grown at a CAGR of 17% and 30% over the last five financial years respectively. ...

Another interesting company we met was "Shifa Intl. Hospitals," a hospital chain company which currently operates a hospital in Islamabad and Faisalabad and plans to expand capacity into Lahore. Besides this, the company also has a laboratory business which it could expand in the future. The fund is currently invested in this company. There was one bank present at the conference and the outlook for the Pakistani banking sector is soft as their margins are expected to come under pressure due to the reinvestment risk they face as a large portion of their government bonds are expected to mature in 2016. Having said that, most Pakistani banks are fundamentally sound in terms of loan loss coverage ratios and capital adequacy ratios.

We also met with one of the leading auto companies in Pakistan, "Indus Motor Company Ltd." and their sales growth over the past year has been in double digits leading to capacity constraints which they plan to overcome in the short run but they would need new capacity in the long run. The Pakistan automobile market does hold a lot of potential as car penetration in Pakistan at 13 per 1,000 people is lower than India which is 18 per 1,000 people. A new auto policy recently passed by the government could bring more investment into the country and may also lead to more competition which could possibly lead to new model launches by the existing players and this can be positive for overall growth of the industry.

We recommend to invest via MSCI Pakistan ETF (NYSEARCA:PAK) or through the AFC Asia Frontier Fund, which has currently 20.6% of the fund invested in Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Per capita income up 2.9pc to $1561 in 2015/16 …

The country’s per capita income rose 2.9 percent to $1,561 in the current fiscal year, a document revealed on Monday, as the stable exchange rate kept the growth nominal.

“As the exchange rate largely remained stable so the per capita income also showed a nominal growth in the current fiscal compared to the last year,” said a source.

The document, available with The News, said the per capita income was calculated at $1,517 for last fiscal year.

The ministry of finance will release the figure of per capita income along with the upcoming Economic Survey (2015-16) before the announcement of the budget for the fiscal 2016-17.

The per capita income grew 9.4 percent to $1,513 in 2014/15 over the preceding fiscal year.

The latest per capita income was based on the population growth rate of 1.94 percent in the current fiscal year as compared to 1.98 percent in the previous fiscal year. The document further showed that investment to GDP ratio slightly declined in the outgoing fiscal year despite significant investment inflows from China under the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The investment to GDP ratio came down to 15.2 percent from the revised figure of 15.5 percent a year ago. This was mainly due to a downtrend in private investments. “The private sector investment dropped to 9.8 percent of GDP in the current fiscal year of 2015/16 from 10.2 percent in 2014/15,” said an official. “This also indicated that the private sector is still reluctant to go for the new investments in modernising.”

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said foreign private investment in the country fell 64.7 percent to $635 million in July-April. It was $1.8 billion in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. Foreign direct investment (FDI) and portfolio investments are the major components of the total foreign investment. In July-April 2015/16, the portfolio investment outflows amounted to $381.2 million as compared to inflows of $836.8 million in the same period a year ago.

Chinese investment in the country jumped one-and-half time to $550 million, more than half of FDI in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year. The SBP said the FDI inflows from China amounted to $218 million in the corresponding months of 2014/15.

The overall FDI posted a growth of 5.4 percent to $1.016 billion in July-April 2015/16 over the same period a year earlier.

Sector-wise analysis revealed that power sector was the main recipient of FDI during the period under review. The inflows of FDI towards the sector posted a sharp growth of 208 percent to $518 million.

The country is attracting foreign companies in various sectors. It attracted substantial amount of foreign investment in mid 2000s in banking and telecommunication sectors.

The official data showed that the public sector investment was up to 3.8 percent of GDP in 2015/16 from 3.7 percent in 2014/15. It further showed that the savings to GDP ratio also declined slightly as it was down to 14.5 percent in 2015-16 from 14.7 percent.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan achives 4.7% #GDP growth in 2015/16, misses target by 0.8%, sets 5.7% target for 2016/17 via @ReutersIndia

Pakistan achieved GDP growth of 4.7 percent in the fiscal year ending in June 2016, missing its target of 5.5 percent, the prime minister's office announced on Monday.

The government has set a growth target of 5.7 percent for the next fiscal year, according to a statement. Pakistan's financial year runs from July to June.

Nawaz Sharif's announcement comes ahead of Friday's presentation of his government's budget for the 2016-17 financial year.

The government has set a growth target of 3.5 percent for the agricultural sector, 7.7 percent for the industrial sector and 5.7 percent for the services sector for the coming year.

Friday's budget will include 1,675 billion rupees ($15.98 billion) in National Development Outlay, including 800 billion rupees ($7.63 billion) in federal funds and 875 billion rupees ($8.35 billion) in funds to the provinces, the statement said.

Pakistan's economy, despite its missed targets, grew at its highest rate for eight years this year. It remains plagued by chronic power shortages, poor infrastructure and flagging exports, however.

On May 21, Pakistan's central bank cut its key policy rate by 25 basis points to 5.75 percent, mainly over concern at the missed GDP growth target.

In April 2015, China announced it would invest $46 billion in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project that would link western China to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan, creating a major new trade route.

"CPEC has the capacity for further contributing to GDP and will have far-reaching effect in consolidating the economic outlook of the country in years ahead," said Monday's statement.
Riaz Haq said…
A newer and increasingly common option in conventional power projects involving Chinese contractors is a project finance structure
such as a BOT (build-operate-transfer). Under a BOT, developers set up and arrange loans to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in the host country. Some 70-80% of the capital costs of construction will come from these loans, and the remainder will be provided by the developers through equity and / or other loans.

The SPV then enters into all the contracts needed for the project, including an engineering procurement construction (EPC) contract with the contractor. If the funding is from China, this EPC contract will almost always be with a Chinese contractor.

Conventional power projects are seen as particularly 'bankable' BOT projects, because the technology is usually tried and tested and there is a high likelihood that performance requirements will be met. These projects also do not generally require significant land acquisitions, or need extensive underground works, reducing the risk of delays and unforeseen problems. Many jurisdictions, in fact, now have standard form power purchase agreements and implementation agreements that offer to allocate project risks between the offtaker, the government and the developers in a split that is attractive to many lenders.

It has taken Chinese contractors some time to get used to EPC contracts under project financed structures, as these tend to be tough on the contractor. Rates of delay and performance liquidated damages, and the caps on these, are generally much higher, and the contractor's rights to additional time and cost are limited. Many of these rights have to match the power purchase agreement that the SPV has negotiated with the offtaker. However, the upside for the contractor is that the developers are often willing to pay a higher contract price in return for the contractor taking on these additional risks.

Where the finance for the project is coming from Chinese banks, the Chinese contractor may enjoy stronger bargaining power, although that is not always the case. There are plenty of Chinese contractors with the skills needed to build these power stations, and developers will often use the threat of switching negotiations to a competing contractor to get their way in negotiations.

Evolution to investment

Even before the launch of OBOR, the larger and more experienced Chinese contractors had begun the transition from a traditional contractor business model to a 'contractor plus investment' model. Now, the signs are that a significant proportion of OBOR projects will involve Chinese contractors making investments in the projects that they are engaged to construct, and conventional power projects have been among the first to use this structure.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been among the first to see innovative project structures. The Thar Coal Block II project involves the development of an open pit coal mine and 660MW mine mouth power station through two SPVs set up by a consortium of Pakistani and Chinese investors, including a major Chinese contractor who will act as both EPC contractor and SPV equity participant. Project finance loans, including conventional RMB and Rupee Islamic tranches, are provided by syndicates of Pakistani and Chinese lenders including Habib Bank, United Bank, China Development Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Construction Bank of China.

- See more at:
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Budget Seeks Decade-High #GDP Growth as #IMF Loan Nears End via @business

Pakistan is targeting the fastest growth in more than a decade, proposing cutting taxes to boost exports and support farmers in its spending plan as it wraps up a three-year, $6.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan program.
Pakistan proposed a zero-rated sales tax regime for five export industries, including textiles, leather, surgical instruments, sports goods and carpets, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Friday while presenting the government’s 4.89 trillion rupee ($46.7 billion) budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. The fiscal deficit is estimated to decrease to 3.8 percent next year from an estimated 4.3 percent, he said. The spending plan will probably be approved by Parliament this month.
“In three years we have achieved stability, now we will go for growth,” Dar said in Parliament in Islamabad. “We need to increase growth and jobs opportunities.”
Gross domestic product is forecast to expand 5.7 percent in the year starting July 1 on higher infrastructure spending, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said this week ahead of the budget presentation.
If Sharif is successful, it will be the first time in at least a decade that any Pakistani government has hit a growth target. Nonetheless, the economy’s accelerating expansion since he took office in 2013 has put Pakistan’s stocks and currency among Asia’s best performers during that time.

For the coming year, Sharif aims to spend 1.68 trillion rupees to build roads, dams and ports, a 14 percent increase. The nation is also looking to add power plants to end electricity shortages in two years, while also maintaining a fight against militants who have killed 60,000 people since 2001.
Investments from China are also set to rise. The $45 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor is getting under way and will contribute to growth, Sharif said last month.
“Chinese investment will start kicking in that will help end the energy crisis and there is a possibility of a rebound in agriculture,” said Yawar uz Zaman, head of research at Karachi-based Shajar Capital Pakistan Pvt. Even so, the government may struggle to reach its target, he said.
As always in Pakistan, risks are ever present. Sharif’s efforts to privatize entities like Pakistan International Airlines Corp. have also met resistance. A recent tax amnesty to boost government revenues flopped, and an interest-rate cut by the State Bank of Pakistan last month as inflation quickened caught investors by surprise.
‘Looks Difficult’
“There is a disconnect between the State Bank’s narrative and the cut,” said Sakib Sherani, chief executive officer at Islamabad-based research company Macroeconomic Insights Ltd., referring to looser monetary policy at a time when price pressures are seen rising. “There will be growth but a major breakthrough -- as they wish to achieve near 6 percent -- that looks difficult.”
The military also eats up about a fifth of total spending. The defense budget has been increased 11 percent to 860 billion rupees and a separate 100 billion rupees is allocated for a military offensive against militants and to support people displaced by the operations, Dar said.
Even so, analysts see Sharif sticking broadly to the IMF targets as the program concludes. All end-March 2016 quantitative performance criteria, including the budget deficit target and the floor on the central bank’s net international reserves, have been met, the IMF said May 12.
“They will remain disciplined,” said Raza Jafri, director, research and development, at Intermarket Securities Ltd. “The IMF program will be ending but you are still getting a lot of money from Asian Development Bank and World Bank.”
Riaz Haq said…
#China's #Shanghai untility bids for $1.5 billion stake in #Karachi's #KElectric, #Pakistan. #CPEC via @Reuters

Chinese state-backed firms are frontrunners to buy a $1.5 billion controlling stake in Pakistani utility K-Electric, sources said, as they bet the benefits of a Beijing-led economic corridor will trump the risks of investing in Pakistan.

State-backed Shanghai Electric Power (600021.SS) and China Southern Power Grid are among Chinese firms leading the pack of about half a dozen bidders in K-Electric KELA.KA, one person familiar with the matter said.

Shanghai-headquartered Golden Concord Holdings is also among the bidders, as are some local Pakistani and other companies, according to people who know about the process.

Chinese companies' interest comes after China last year announced energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion in the South Asian nation, with a view to opening a trade corridor linking western China with the Arabian Sea.

"The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the main driver, with a lot of Chinese funding flowing into Pakistan," said one person aware of the K-Electric deal.

That demand underpins President Xi Jinping's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" initiative, under which Beijing is seeking to open new trade routes and markets as the domestic economy slows.

Under the program, Chinese companies invested nearly $15 billion in participating countries last year, up one fifth from 2014.

If successful, the K-Electric deal would be the biggest M&A agreement in Pakistan in a decade. Large tracts of Pakistan's economy remain nationalized or held by private businessmen with little interest in selling to new investors.

Chinese firms are eyeing new Pakistan power projects, roads and some engineering contracts but investing in a large private company that deals directly with consumers would be a first, a senior Karachi-based financial adviser said.


Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Group, whose 66-percent stake in K-Electric has a market value of about $1.5 billion, is seeking final bids for its stake by the end of August.

Sources cautioned that although talks between the parties are advanced, there is no certainty of a deal being clinched.

The Pakistani government owns about 24 percent, but a spokesman for the water and power ministry said it was not in talks to sell.

CPEC envisages the construction of roads, pipelines and power plants across Pakistan that run south to Gwadar port and should mean more business for distribution companies like K-Electric that sell the electricity to users.

China and Pakistan call each other "all-weather friends" and their ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbor, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence in the region.

Islamabad wants Chinese funding to reinvigorate an economy hurt by militant violence and weak productivity, to provide new jobs and to ease chronic power shortages.

For China, markets like Pakistan and Malaysia are opening up new frontiers, just as it faces hurdles in countries including Australia.


"We are getting a lot more enquiries from Chinese investors about Pakistan in the last couple of years," said Muhammad Sohail, CEO at Karachi-based brokerage Topline Securities.

"Before it was always U.S. and Europe. The Chinese are coming," Sohail added.

Still, foreign investment in Pakistan remains relatively muted as it struggles to shake off a reputation for violence, corruption and instability, and despite the $250 billion economy growing at its fastest pace in eight years.

Inbound M&A into Pakistan has risen more than six times in the past five years, totaling $516 million so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Riaz Haq said…
#China’s #Shanghai Electric to buy majority stake in #Pakistan’s K-Electric. #Karachi #CPEC via @WSJ

hina’s state-owned Shanghai Electric Power Co. plans to acquire a controlling stake in Pakistani power utility K-Electric Ltd., in a deal that could be one of the biggest foreign investments in Pakistan’s history.

In a notification filed with the Pakistan Stock Exchange Tuesday, Shanghai Electric said it intends to purchase the 66.4% stake in K-Electric currently held by The Abraaj Group, a Dubai-based investment firm. K-Electric shares, included in the Pakistan Stock Exchange’s benchmark 100-index, closed at 9.21 Pakistani rupees ($0.09) Tuesday, valuing Abraaj’s stake in the utility at 168.9 billion rupees, or $1.6 billion.

K-Electric supplies power to Pakistan’s largest city and economic hub, Karachi, home to around 20 million people. The company has a customer base of 2.2 million, and 11,000 employees.

The acquisition would be the largest investment in a Pakistani company by a Chinese firm, and a boost to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government, which considers increasing foreign investment a key component of its economic policy.

If completed, Shanghai Electric’s purchase will be the third major foreign investment this year in Pakistan, dwarfing the $258 million acquisition of Pakistani appliance maker Dawlance by Turkey’s Arçelik A.Ş. in June, and Netherlands-based Royal FrieslandCampina N.V.’s acquisition of a 51% stake in Engro Foods Ltd. for an estimated $450 million in July.

Work is also under way in Pakistan to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $46 billion, multiyear Chinese investment program connecting the two countries. A bulk of the investment will be in Pakistan’s energy sector, and the government hopes the new power plants will help end electricity shortages that have hampered economic activity for years. Pakistani officials also hope the corridor will help the country industrialize and boost growth.
Riaz Haq said…
#Kuwait wins approval for setting up #oil refinery in #Balochistan #Pakistan #FDI

Economic managers of Pakistan have given the go-ahead to Kuwait Petroleum Corporation for setting up an oil refinery in the coastal area of Balochistan – a welcome investment initiative for the largely under-developed province, which will reduce the need for import of refined petroleum products in the country.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the highest economic decision-making body, took the decision in a meeting held on September 7 in response to Kuwait Petroleum’s interest in pouring capital into setting up a refinery in Balochistan, said an official aware of developments.

Chinese company keen to set up oil refinery

The ECC also decided to seek an extension in the timeframe for oil import credit facility from three to four months in an effort to ease pressure on the country’s foreign currency reserves. It directed Pakistan State Oil (PSO), the state oil marketing giant, to try and persuade Kuwait Petroleum to extend the existing credit facility from 90 to 120 days or even more.

In another decision, the ECC permitted import of furnace oil and jet fuel from Kuwait without resorting to competitive bidding. At present, PSO imports diesel from the Gulf Arab state on 90-day deferred payment.

A representative of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, who was present in the ECC huddle, said before the year 2000, Pakistan purchased diesel from Kuwait under a long-term contract with the Gulf state’s government.

However, in the wake of market deregulation, Pakistan government in 2001-02 asked PSO to enter into a fuel supply contract with Kuwait Petroleum. Immediately after that, the two sides inked an agreement for the sale and purchase of high-speed diesel only with payment guarantees from the government of Pakistan. Now, this agreement has been in place for the last around 15 years.

Earlier, Kuwait Petroleum had expressed interest in exporting furnace oil and jet fuel as part of the existing arrangement and was looking to install an oil refinery in the coastal area of Balochistan with storage facilities.

‘Pakistan has received Rs1.6tr as investment in oil and gas sector’

“Pakistan and Kuwait have an old bilateral relationship in terms of oil trade and Kuwait Petroleum is a time-tested supplier, well-reputed for the most economical supplies, product quality and supply security,” an official told the ECC meeting.

The Ministry of Petroleum and PSO suggested that furnace oil and jet fuel could be included in the existing sale and purchase contract by making an addition to it.

This could be done by invoking rule-5 of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules 2004, which provides for waiving mandatory public procurement procedures in case of an international or inter-governmental commitment of the federal government.

The ministry took up the matter with the PPRA and Law and Justice Division for legal advice.

Later, the PPRA endorsed the proposal. The Law Division, on its part, pointed out that the contract was linked with the agreement between Pakistan government and Kuwait Petroleum and new products could be added. Therefore, it would be treated and read as an integral part of the existing contract.

After examining the proposal from legal point of view, the Law Division cleared it subject to meeting all formalities.

Riaz Haq said…
#China's #Shanghai Electric to invest $9 billion in #Pakistan for #KElectric #Karachi upgrades | ET EnergyWorld

Karachi: China's Shanghai Electric plans to spend $9 billion overhauling electricity infrastructure in Karachi, a minister told AFP, just months after the multinational revealed it was buying a Pakistan power company.
China is ramping up investment in its South Asian neighbour as part of a $46 billion project unveiled last year that will link its far-western Xinjiang region to Pakistan's Gwadar port with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.

In a presentation made to Pakistani authorities, Shanghai Electric said it would invest an average of $700 million a year until 2030 to increase capacity, improve cabling and target bill defaulters.

"The investment would be utilised in distribution, generation, transmission" and training, Miftah Ismail, minister for state and chairman of Pakistan's Board of Investment told AFP on Wednesday.

The investment would also aim to tackle widespread electricity theft and other losses that cost about $269 million a month in the city, partly by replacing above-ground grid stations with underground ones.

Shanghai Electric announced in August it would buy a majority stake in K-Electric, which is owned by Abraaj Group of Dubai, for $1.7 billion, which would be Pakistan's biggest ever private-sector acquisition.

K-Electric, formerly known as Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation, supplies electricity to more than 2.2 million households and commercial and industrial consumers.

Riaz Haq said…
Foreign Direct #Investment #FDI in #Pakistan Crosses $1 Billion in first 6 months of Fiscal Year 2016-17. #CPEC

Foreign investment in the country flourished after a long pause and a growth of 10 percent to $1.080 billion was recorded in the six months of the current fiscal year, the State Bank of Pakistan data showed.
The economic measures according to an analyst started paying some dividends as after a long gap in the first six months the barrier of $1 billion has been crossed. However, the stock market was on the losing side as the foreign fund managers repatriated their investment during July to December period. Outflow from the Pakistan Stock Exchange stood around $254 million as against $236 million of the same period last year or 2015.
There has been general tendency among the foreign fund houses to pull out from the emerging markets as they felt that with the rising interest rates and hope of further rise in the US in 2017, the best option to park their funds would be the US treasury or bonds.
Another analyst said that foreign direct investment recorded increase because of one time arrival of payment received from the Netherland as they bought majority of stakes of Engro Foods amounting to $464 million. Another factor which increased the net foreign investment climbing by 52.5 percent to $1.804 billion was the issuance of the Euro Bonds by the government during the period.
The government and economists mostly bet on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the project would yield around $5 billion dollars year in the coming years.
Riaz Haq said…
Exclusive: CPEC master plan revealed

In any plan, the question of financial resources is always crucial. The long term plan drawn up by the China Development Bank is at its sharpest when discussing Pakistan’s financial sector, government debt market, depth of commercial banking and the overall health of the financial system. It is at its most unsentimental when drawing up the risks faced by long term investments in Pakistan’s economy.

The chief risk the plan identifies is politics and security. “There are various factors affecting Pakistani politics, such as competing parties, religion, tribes, terrorists, and Western intervention” the authors write. “The security situation is the worst in recent years”. The next big risk, surprisingly, is inflation, which the plan says has averaged 11.6 per cent over the past 6 years. “A high inflation rate means a rise of project-related costs and a decline in profits.”

Efforts will be made, says the plan, to furnish “free and low interest loans to Pakistan” once the costs of the corridor begin to come in. But this is no free ride, it emphasizes. “Pakistan’s federal and involved local governments should also bear part of the responsibility for financing through issuing sovereign guarantee bonds, meanwhile protecting and improving the proportion and scale of the government funds invested in corridor construction in the financial budget.”

It asks for financial guarantees “to provide credit enhancement support for the financing of major infrastructure projects, enhance the financing capacity, and protect the interests of creditors.” Relying on the assessments of the IMF, World Bank and the ADB, it notes that Pakistan’s economy cannot absorb FDI much above $2 billion per year without giving rise to stresses in its economy. “It is recommended that China’s maximum annual direct investment in Pakistan should be around US$1 billion.” Likewise, it concludes that Pakistan’s ceiling for preferential loans should be $1 billion, and for non preferential loans no more than $1.5 billion per year.

It advises its own enterprises to take precautions to protect their own investments. “International business cooperation with Pakistan should be conducted mainly with the government as a support, the banks as intermediary agents and enterprises as the mainstay.” Nor is the growing engagement some sort of brotherly involvement. “The cooperation with Pakistan in the monetary and financial areas aims to serve China’s diplomatic strategy.”

The other big risk the plan refers to is exchange rate risk, after noting the severe weakness in Pakistan’s ability to earn foreign exchange. To mitigate this, the plan proposes tripling the size of the swap mechanism between the RMB and the Pakistani rupee to 30 billion Yuan, diversifying power purchase payments beyond the dollar into RMB and rupee basket, tapping the Hong Kong market for RMB bonds, and diversifying enterprise loans from a wide array of sources. The growing role of the RMB in Pakistan’s economy is a clearly stated objective of the measures proposed.
Riaz Haq said…
Indian media on Bunji and Bhasha dams in Gilgit Baltistan:

China To Invest $27 Billion In Construction Of Two Mega Dams In Pakistan-Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan

China and Pakistan have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of two mega dams in Gilgit-Baltistan, a part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state that remains under latter’s illegal occupation. The MoU was signed during the visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Beijing for participation in the recently concluded Belt and Road Initiative.

The two dams, called Bunji and Diamer-Bhasha hydroelectricity projects, will have the capacity of generating 7,100MW and 4,500MW of electricity respectively. China will fund the construction of the two dams, investing $27 billion in the process, a report authored by Brahma Chellaney in the Times of India has noted.

According to Chellaney, India does not have a single dam measuring even one-third of Bunji in power generation capacity. The total installed hydropower capacity in India’s part of the state does not equal even Diamer-Bhasha, the smaller of the two dams.

The two dams are part of Pakistan’s North Indus River Cascade, which involves construction of five big water reservoirs with an estimated cost of $50 billion. These dams, together, will have the potential of generating approximately 40,000MW of hydroelectricity. Under the MoU, China’s National Energy Administration would oversee the financing and funding of these projects.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #FDI surging. Expected to reach $3.7 billion in fiscal year 2017-18 ending in June 2018. #CPEC #China #Investment

Pakistan expects net foreign direct investment (FDI) to jump about 60 percent in 2017/2018, the chairman of Pakistan’s Board of Investment said, but some Western investors appear to be put off by China’s growing influence in the South Asian nation.

Chinese companies are building roads, power stations and a deep-water port in Pakistan after Beijing offered more than $50 billion in funding for Pakistani infrastructure as part of China’s vast Belt and Road initiative.

Chinese investment has helped spur Pakistan’s economic growth to more than 5 percent, its highest in a decade, while also increasing Beijing’s clout in Pakistan at a time when Islamabad’s relations with the United States, an historic ally, are fraying over Pakistan’s handling of Islamist militants and the conflict in Afghanistan.

Naeem Zamindar, a state minister responsible for promoting foreign investment in Pakistan, said some Western investors appeared reticent because of an incorrect perception that Chinese companies would get “exclusive advantages” and concessions that would not allow for an even playing field.

“A perception was created that the Chinese are taking over. The fact of the matter is that this is not true,” Zamindar told Reuters in his office in Islamabad.

“Pakistan’s government is very clear about it: we want investors of all hues to come in and participate in building this economy - whether American, English or Japanese.”

Zamindar said some Chinese companies building power stations had obtained soft loans but that was because the money was provided by Beijing, which made such terms a condition of its financing for projects that were part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key leg of the Belt and Road infrastructure network.

But for the second phase of CPEC, in which a series of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will be set up to boost Pakistan’s industries, Chinese companies will not receive preferential treatment, Zamindar added.

“That is completely non-discriminatory,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s Special Economic Zones Act stipulates no country or company will get preferential treatment within the SEZs.

“The (SEZ) concessions are published and are on the website, open to all.”

Zamindar said net FDI for the financial year 2017/2018 (July-June) is expect to reach about $3.7 billion, with Chinese companies providing up to 70 percent of the new investment.

Net FDI has been gradually rising since 2014/2015, when it plummeted to less than $1 billion. It rose to $2.3 billion last year, according to central bank data.

Foreign direct investment is separate from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor investments. More than 20 CPEC projects worth nearly $27 billion are currently being implemented, a senior government official told Reuters, meaning either work has begun on the projects or financing deals have been completed.

Zamindar said militant attacks were sharply down in recent years and security was much improved, but some investors are unaware of this and had an outdated “negative image” of Pakistan.

Yet overall interest in Pakistan had jumped, Zaminder said, and he would tour Britain, the United States, France and Saudi Arabia in coming weeks to promote the opportunities available in the country of 208 million people and a fast-expanding middle class.

“We are open for business.”
Riaz Haq said…
The flaws in CPEC

The biggest so-called mystery about CPEC is as follows: if CPEC was supposed to be such a huge bonanza for Pakistan in terms of investment, which is it not showing up in the foreign direct investment (FDI) numbers? Why is Pakistan’s current account balance still negative? In fact, why is Pakistan’s current account balance actually getting worse?
The answer is relatively straightforward: because CPEC is not an investment into Pakistan, it is structured as a resource extraction exercise. Here is how it works: China announces that it has invested in a project in Pakistan worth, let’s say $1 billion. That $1 billion, however, is required to mostly be spent on Chinese equipment, and labour, a significant portion of which is to be imported from China as well, with very little by way of supplies coming from the local economy.
That $1 billion, therefore, never hits Pakistan’s economy as an investment. It is $1 billion that goes from the Chinese government or state-owned company to a state-owned company within China to pay for equipment. Even the Chinese labour gets its salaries deposited into bank accounts within China. The money, in other words, stays completely within China and so never shows up as foreign investment into Pakistan.
Where it does show up is in the trade statistics: that $1 billion of equipment will show up as an import, against which Pakistan will have to arrange foreign currency from somewhere. And it will show up as a liability on the balance sheets of whichever company or government entity is contracting with the Chinese government or state-owned company.
Let us recap what we get and what China gets out of this so-called $1 billion investment.
China gets:
· $1 billion in sales for a Chinese state-owned company
· $1 billion in new loans for a Chinese state-owned bank at very high interest rates
Pakistan gets:
· $0 in investment
· $1 billion in imports and increase in net trade deficit
· $1 billion in liabilities for a Pakistani company or government entity
As is evident from the above, this is an arrangement designed purely to benefit one party and that party is not Pakistan. It could still work out in Pakistan’s favour if the economic value of the asset being built was greater than the $1 billion in liabilities taken on to build it. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is far from clear as to whether that is the case.
Riaz Haq said…
#CPEC likely to contribute 3.5% to #Pakistan's #GDP: 'We have discussed trade amounting to almost $2.5 trillion which is going to be routed through various corridors and Pakistan sits at the epicentre of all this activity'

China's investment of over $60 billion in Pakistan's infrastructure and power projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to increase Pakistan's economic growth by around 3.5 percentage points, said Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) CEO Shahzad Dada on Thursday.

'CPEC projects are estimated to contribute around 3.5 percentage points to Pakistan's GDP (gross domestic product) growth once they are fully delivered,' he emphasised while speaking at an event in Karachi.

Dada noted that most of the Chinese companies investing in Pakistan under CPEC were clients of the bank and Standard Chartered was itself involved in financing some of the projects as well.

Early harvest projects under CPEC are expected to be completed in the current calendar year. Later, short-term projects are anticipated to be completed by 2022, medium-term projects by 2025 and long-term projects by 2030 and beyond.

Pakistan achieved a 13-year high GDP growth of 5.8% in FY18. However, the growth is expected to slow down to around 4.4% in the current fiscal year and 4.1% in FY20, according to Fitch Solutions.

Dada highlighted that China and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding for investment of over $60 billion, of which infrastructure and power projects worth over $30 billion were under way. CPEC is part of China's wider Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

'We have discussed trade amounting to almost $2.5 trillion which is going to be routed through various corridors and Pakistan sits at the epicentre of all this activity,' he pointed out. 'With the Belt and Road Initiative, there is expectation that trade is going to double, quadruple or rise even further.'
Riaz Haq said…
#UAE to invest $5 billion in #oil #refinery project in #Pakistan by end of 2019. #FDI #Energy

In an interview with the publication, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al-Zaabi said: "We are going to launch very soon one of the biggest investments in a refinery project in Hub. It is going to be a $5 billion investment between Mubadala Petroleum Company of Abu Dhabi, Pak Arab Refinery Limited (Parco) and OMV [OMV Pakistan Exploration Gesellschaft]."

According to Arab News, Al-Zaabi said the project was a result of "extensive discussions" between Mubadala Petroleum, Pakistan's petroleum ministry as well as Parco and OMV.

"This project will show the strength of UAE-Pakistan relations and how the UAE is focusing on investment in and future of Pakistan," he was quoted as saying, adding that the two nations were moving forward on new projects and investment.

The UAE ambassador said that the two governments were "finalising the minute details of this refinery project".

"Many meetings have taken place regarding this project," he added, sharing that a UAE delegation, headed by the chief executive officer of Mubadala Petroleum, had met with the Board of Investment (BoI) chairman and the petroleum minister during a visit to Pakistan a few months ago.

"They have discussed this project in detail. We are going to launch it very soon," Al-Zaabi said.

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