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News Clips 30 January, 2016

[ Exports to EU rose 22pc in 2014 ]
[ GSP plus status improves textile exports: CM ]
[ Industry depressed over linking of tariff reduction with fuel price adjustment ]
[ Date of filing returns extended to February 29 ]
[ Norwegian envoy sees great trade potential in Pakistan ]
[ Swiss companies keen to explore investment opportunities ]

Exports to EU rose 22pc in 2014   [ top ]

Daily Dawn, January 30, 2016
ISLAMABAD: EU imports from Pakistan stood at 5.5 billion euros in 2014, registering an increase of 22 per cent compared to 2013, mainly due to GSP Plus facility granted by the European Union to Pakistan.

A report published by the European Commission indicated that over 70 per cent of EU imports from Pakistan were of textiles and clothing. Around 87 per cent of Pakistan’s exports to the EU are eligible for GSP Plus and over 95 per cent actually use the preferences. 

The enhanced trade preferences under GSP Plus are of particular importance to Pakistan’s textiles and clothing industry, which accounts for 8pc of the GDP, contributes to 50 to 60pc of total export earnings and provides employment to 38pc of the manufacturing labour force.

Pakistan’s top export products, such as bed-linen, denim trousers and leather apparels enter the EU duty-free, which would otherwise be subject to normal GSP rate of 9.6pc or the MFN rate of 12pc. EU preferential imports of textiles and clothing increased 82pc compared to 2013 from 2bn euros in 2013 to 3.7bn euros in 2014, and preferential imports of footwear by 121pc.

The commission will continue delivering practical su¬p¬port to the GSP Plus countries, including existing cap¬acity-building projects in par¬tnership with the ILO. On¬go¬ing projects include su¬pport of local administrations to put administrative str¬u¬ctures in place in four countries, Pakistan, Mongo¬lia, Guate¬mala and El Salva¬dor, as well as support for civil society engagement for human and labour rights improvements in all of the 14 countries.

EU Commissioner for Tra¬de Cecilia Malmström said: “We have done much work over the past two years, enga¬ging with vulnerable countries who asked for enhanced access to the EU market. 

GSP plus status improves textile exports: CM   [ top ]

The Nation, January 30, 2016
LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said the GPS plus status for textile exports has largely improved trade ties between Pakistan and European Union.

Talking to Ambassador of European Union in Pakistan Jean Francois Cautain who met him here yesterday, the chief minister said Pakistan and EU enjoyed friendly ties.

“Pakistan gives high importance to the cooperation of European Union in education, health infrastructure and other social sectors. After GSP Plus status Pakistan’s textile industry has got access to European markets and the trade is increasing,” the chief minister said.

He said that GSP Plus points are being effectively implemented in Punjab and a special cabinet committee has been set up for getting maximum benefit from GSP Plus status.

He said that a revolutionary programme is being implemented for the empowerment of youth and women in Punjab and positive results are being witnessed.

Referring to the measures taken by the provincial government for the elimination of child labour, the chief minister said that Punjab government has taken effective steps for curbing child labor and he is personally monitoring the performance of the steering committee set up for this purpose.

Commenting on the international report of the Transparency International Shahbaz Sharif said reports says Pakistan is the only country of the region whose international rating has improved with regard to the measures for eliminating corruption. He said that no scandal of the present government has surfaced which is a big credit.

He said that government is taking effective measures for rooting out terrorism and resolving energy problem. He said that the ruthless elements that targeted the future of the nation at Bacha Khan University, Charsadda deserve no leniency and the whole nation is united to eliminate the menace of terrorism.

He said that 18 crore people of Pakistan are fully determined to defeat the enemies of peace. He said that the dream of national progress and prosperity cannot be realized without curbing the scourge of terrorism. He said that terrorists are enemies of the entire humanity and the restoration of peace will result in progress and prosperity in the region.

The chief minister said that in order to check the trend of extremism, revolutionary measures are also been taken on ideological front. He said that topics of tolerance, peace and brotherhood have been made a part of syllabus.

He said that besides traditional methods, the government is also striving for generation of energy from renewable resources.

He said that sincere efforts have been made during the last two and a half years for coping with energy crisis and a number of projects will be producing electricity by the end of 2017 which will substantially reduce loadshedding.

Ambassador of European Union Jean Francois Cautain while speaking on the occasion appreciated steps taken for the implementation of GSP Plus. He also lauded setting up of Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory and described it a splendid project with regard to criminal justice system. He said that European Union wants to promote cooperation with Pakistan.

The Ambassador of European Union also presented a report to the chief minister regarding progress on GSP Plus. Provincial Minister for Human Rights Khalil Tahir Sandhu, Secretary Industry, Secretary Labour and concerned officials were also present on the occasion. 

Industry depressed over linking of tariff reduction with fuel price adjustment   [ top ]

The Nation, January 30, 2016
LAHORE - The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman Tariq Saud has said the textile industry is disappointed over linking of Rs3 per unit reduction in industry tariff with fuel price adjustment. 

He said the textile industry had booked export orders based on Rs9 per unit electricity tariff after the announcement of Rs3 per unit tariff reduction by the prime minister of Pakistan.

“But the linking of reduction in industry electricity tariff with the monthly fuel price adjustment will nullify the spirit of the announcement, as neither the increase nor the decrease in fuel price adjustment could be considered a part of the power sector revenues,” he said. He said it is quite ironic that the cost of electricity is Rs12 per unit today like it was earlier because of the constant burden of surcharges.

It would push the textile industry further into crisis with closing down capacities and falling exports and no more undertaking of fresh investment in the sector, he said.

“The textile industry is witnessing 30 percent capacity closure amidst 30 percent drop in exports today,” he added. He said the government would not be able to benefit from the GSP plus facility without reducing the electricity cost. He also said the industry was expecting the electricity bill for the month January at a cost of Rs9 per unit. But it seems impossible and the industry would be paying Rs12 for each unit consumed during the month of January with the constant burden of surcharges. Chairman APTMA said revival of the closed capacity and bringing back the industry viability is only possible if the government matches with the regional electricity tariff, i.e. 9 cent per unit.

He has appealed to the prime minister for issuing direction to the ministry of water and power for Rs3 per unit reduction from the notified surcharges, imposed over and above the NEPRA determination. 

Date of filing returns extended to February 29   [ top ]

Business Recorder, January 30, 2016
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to further extend the date of filing of Income Tax returns/statements for Tax Year 2015 fifth time up to February 29, 2016. It is learnt that the FBR will provide another opportunity to the non-filers to file their returns in the month of February. The date of filing of Income Tax Returns/Statements of final taxation is expected to be extended upto February 29, 2015. This would be the fifth (5th) extension for filing of returns. 

Earlier, the date of filing of returns of total income statement of final taxation which was due on 31 August, 2015, was first extended upto 30th September then extended to 30th October 2015 and then upto 30th November 2015. Later it has been further extended to 31st December, 2015 while last extension was granted till January 31, 2016. Present extension would be 5th extension which would break all records of the FBR when there is issue of granting extension in time for filing of tax returns, experts said. 

Norwegian envoy sees great trade potential in Pakistan   [ top ]

Daily Times, January 30, 2016
KARACHI: Norwegian Ambassador Tore Nedrebo has said that there was a great potential for Pakistan and Norway to increase trade, saying many Norwegian companies were interested in making investments in Pakistan.

"Norwegian companies are exploring investment opportunities around the world and if they see such opportunities in Pakistan, they will surely come to invest in this country as well," he said while exchanging views during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). First Secretary, Embassy of Norway Tom Jorgen Martinussen, Honorary Consul General of Norway Muhammad Moonis, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir, Senior Vice President KCCI Zia Ahmed Khan, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Naeem Sharif and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.

Norwegian Ambassador said, "The existing trade volume of $70 to $80 million, which fortunately is in favor of Pakistan, is not a lot and we need to do lot more for improving it further." Tore Nedrebo, while highlighting some glaring examples of Norwegian investments in Pakistan, informed that a Norwegian companies plans to establish solar power plant in Sindh whose ground work will begin this year with an initial investment of US$250 million which may be raised further keeping in view Pakistan's need for energy while a hydropower project will also by established in northern areas of Pakistan, he added. Earlier, while welcoming the Norwegian Ambassador, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir said that Karachi offers profitable investment opportunities and added facilities for investment and joint ventures to Norwegian Investors.

He was of the view that with improved law and order situation, Karachi has become an attractive place for foreign investors, who can surely earn maximum profits by setting up their businesses or undertaking joint ventures. He said that KCCI was keen to strengthen trade ties and exploring new bilateral trade prospects with Norway as they believe that Pakistan's improved relations and enhanced trade with countries like Norway would surely help in dealing with the economic crisis and ensure prosperity for our country.

Commenting on trade ties between Pakistan and Norway, Bashir said that both countries share healthy diplomatic relations and it was heartening to note that Norway has been providing development assistance to Pakistan, particularly in the areas of governance and education. On a smaller scale, Norway has also contributed toward documentation and preservation of Pakistan's cultural heritage, he said, adding that Pakistanis form one of the largest immigrant communities in Norway. He pointed out that during Fiscal Year 2015, Pakistan exported goods worth $54 million to Norway while the imports from Norway stood at $9.20 million. Younus Bashir was of the opinion that there was much potential for enhancing bilateral trade relations between Norway and Pakistan as Norway imports $3 to $4 billion of textiles related items from around the globe. Pakistan has a good chance to enhance its exports share of textiles in Norwegian market, he added. "We also want to promote Norwegian investment in Pakistan and do everything for the development of Pakistan-Norwegian business cooperation," President KCCI said. 

Swiss companies keen to explore investment opportunities   [ top ]

Daily Times, January 30, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of Switzerland Roger M Kull has said that Swiss companies were doing successful business in various sectors of Pakistan's economy and more were interested to explore as they considered it a promising country for business and investment. Talking to businessmen here at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Friday, Kull said Pakistan was making good economic progress and entrepreneurs of both countries had to work together to take bilateral trade to higher levels. He said that Pakistan with a population of over 190 million people held great opportunities and Swiss investors would like to exploit its untapped potential. He said 70 per cent of Swiss economy was comprised of small medium enterprises (SMEs) and there was good scope for both countries to strengthen cooperation between their SMEs for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.

He said Pakistani businessmen should visit Switzerland to establish business linkages and explore business collaborations. He said Swiss Business Council and Switzerland Embassy in Pakistan could facilitate Pakistani businessmen in making direct contacts with Swiss counterparts.