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Amid mounting pressures on global economy, China urges world to find ways to sustainable development

Boao Forum for Asia opens in Hainan

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  • China to further relax controls on market access and shorten negative list for foreign investment this year

BOAO, Hainan – China has voiced its concern over rising trade protectionism and mounting pressure on the global economy with Prime Minister Li Keqiang asking the world to find a way to achieve sustainable development.

“The world should work together to seize opportunities, embrace challenges, seek win-win results in cooperation and inject confidence to the world economy with an open mind, inclusiveness and coordinated action,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday at the opening plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference being held at China’s southern island province of Hainan.

Further opening its economy, promoting multilateral initiatives and advancing structural reforms, China is offering its solution to increase certainties for the world.

Li announced a new set of measures to further open up the economy, offering reassurance to global investors trying to tap into the country’s gigantic market.

China will further relax controls on market access and shorten the negative list for foreign investment this year, he said.

The country has also started to formulate matching regulations and rules to support the implementation of the newly-adopted foreign investment law, Li said.

In the Progress of Asian Economic Integration 2019 report released in this year’s Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), it said that the US, the EU, and China can lead the world in upholding the multilateral trading system, otherwise they will create competing trade blocks.

“If these three powers were able to reach consensus on major issues, the multilateral trading system is going to be stable and WTO (World Trade Organization) be revitalized,” the BFA report noted.

“A cooperative solution to the disagreements by these three global trading centers – the US, EU, and China – is the key to steer the world in the right direction,” it added.

Major issues where these economic blocks have differences include agriculture, services, dispute settlement, distorted subsidies, and special and differential treatment as well as developing issues such as digital trade, global value chain, and investment facilitation, among others.

“If these three powers were not able to reach agreement, the multilateral trading system may possibly split into competing trade blocks and the importance of WTO might be downgraded,” the report said.

The BFA urged the US, the EU, and China to act quickly and adopt a cooperative and constructive approach in resolving these differences.

The US, the EU, and China account for 40 percent of world trade and the major sources of foreign direct investments.

China will further relax controls on market access and shorten the negative list for foreign investment. China has started to formulate matching regulations and rules to support the implementation of the newly-adopted foreign investment law, he mentioned.

Further, BFA Chairman Ban Ki-moon said there is no alternative solution for all nations’ common challenges but to work together and boost cooperation.

“We must work together under the multilateral framework through close coordination, cooperation, and with concerted actions. The best response to keep globalization is an open, inclusive, and balanced approach that brings world’s countries, people, towards the path of common development,” Ban stressed.

Ban also urges the BFA participants to adopt the consensus and solutions reached during this year’s forum to their respective countries and translate these into policies.

“I wish to see such consensus and solutions be brought back to your countries and translate it into policies and actions that could change Asia and the world for better,” he said.

More than 2,000 participants are attending the BFA here in Boao in China’s southernmost province of Hainan from March 26 to 29.

BFA gathers leaders from the government, business, and the academe in Asia to discuss major issues in the region and share possible solutions to challenges in order to promote regional economic integration.

“It is a very encouraging sign for investors in general. For us, it’s an additional confirmation that we can continue with our plans,” said Robert Aspell, president of Asia Pacific for Cargill, a U.S.-based agriculture and food company.

Following the company’s additional investments last year in northeast China’s Jilin Province, the company is looking at more investment opportunities in the value-added oil field, as more Chinese are living healthier lifestyles and crave different kinds of oil, Aspell told Xinhua on the sidelines of the BFA.

“We are in China for the long term,” he said.

Economists and entrepreneurs at the BFA agreed that openness and cooperation are the keys to address the so-called “black swan” events, or incidents that are rare but could cause catastrophic ramifications.

“There’s an old Chinese saying that we should cope with shifting events by sticking to a fundamental principle,” said Zhang Yuyan, an economist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“The fundamental principle here is that the world should always work together to counter the uncertainties,” Zhang said.

During a heated discussion at the BFA titled “Global Economic Outlook 2019: Certainties and Uncertainties,” panelists saw the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China as an effective way to deal with the uncertainties that the world faces.

Michele Geraci, undersecretary of state of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, said the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China on the BRI will bring win-win results in areas including infrastructure, especially for water transport projects.

Geraci said that he expects other countries to follow Italy to join the initiative and sign the MoU.

“We will do more business with China and lead other European countries to see the benefits,” Geraci said.

Initiatives such as the Belt and Road not only bring Chinese firms more opportunities to expand overseas but add to the chance for the global community to achieve common prosperity, participants at the BFA said.

China and other countries should push forward regional integration, build a more dynamic Asian market and better align the BRI with development strategies of all countries, Premier Li said at the opening plenary.

Hiria Ottino, president of the Pacific-China Friendship Association, said the BRI has offered a new perspective on how the international community could work together.

“In the past, we didn’t want to share our knowledge or experiences because we feared losing out. Now we are looking at each other not as competitors but as partners. This is the most important thing about the BRI,” he said.

INNOVATION-DRIVEN ECONOMY

At the international conference center of the BFA, two photos showing the sharp contrast of farming in central China’s Henan Province have drawn the attention of the participants.

In one picture, farmers were plowing a field with two cattle in 1957. In another photo taken last year, several harvesting machines were reaping wheat in a similar field.

Technological innovation in the past decades has fostered world economic growth, and it will continue to be the key driving force for global prosperity, analysts said.

China has been intensifying its efforts to restructure the economy, with incentives introduced to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

Hans-Paul Burkner, chairman of the Boston Consulting Group, believed there are more certainties than uncertainties in the future.

“The future requires more effort, more restructuring, more reform and more change,” said Burkner.

“The key is to see that the future is in our hands. It does not just happen. We make it happen,” he said.

For Aspell, China’s commitment to better protect intellectual property helps companies like Cargill tap into the innovation that is thriving in the country.

“There are a lot of young people in China sitting in their apartments coming up with very interesting things,” Aspell said, adding that the company is particularly interested in digitalization.

In a world that abounds with uncertainties, fostering innovation is one certain thing that countries should resort to for achieving sustainable growth, said Zhang Tao, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “Innovation can provide a variety of new technologies which provide opportunities for higher productivity,” he concluded.

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Miami’s top architect Kobi Karp enters Pakistani market

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ISLAMABAD: Miami’s leading architect Kobi Karp the name behind some of Miami’s most iconic developments including the Four Seasons Private Residences and the Legacy Tower, South Beach has completed the designs for the $30 Million luxury residential tower One Canal Road by Diyar Homes.

One Canal Road, Lahore, Diyar Homes designed by Kobi Karp architects

The design includes in excess of 25,000 square feet of amenity space finished with the finest VERSACE ceramics by the leading Italian design house and includes a sky pool which will be amongst Lahore’s highest above the penthouse floor of the building.

Commenting on the design of the project from an exclusive press conference in London’s plush Grosvenor House, Hotel on Park Lane, Kobi said “I have designed One Canal Road to the highest of international standards, the development rivals any of the best buildings I have designed in Miami or the Middle-East. One Canal Road will be an icon in Lahore’s skyline”.

Kobi Karp addressing Diyár Press Conference at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Kobi Karp architects are Miami’s leading design studio, a multi award winning practice that have been involved in projects across the world including some of the most iconic developments in Miami including Astor & Edison Hotels, Palazzo Del Sol, Four Seasons Private Residences and private luxury homes for the likes of NBA start Juwan Howard and landmark developments in the Middle-East in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Kobi Karp offices in Miami

Further adding Kobi said “It’s an honour to work on our first project in Pakistan and in a location of this kind at the heart of Lahore, I don’t think we could have had a better project and developer (Diyar Homes) to start with in Pakistan. For me great architecture is the crossover over between design and art. At Kobi Karp Architects we create timeless landmark architecture that stands the test of time. One Canal Road will be a landmark in Lahore”.

One Canal Road looking on to Gaddafi Stadium and Gulberg, Lahore.

On his vision for One Canal Road Kobi added, “Every part of One Canal Road has been planned with exceptional attention to detail, from capitalising on the 360 degree views a location of this kind boasts, to the hotel style 6500 square foot lobby with 28 feet high ceilings, to the fitness centre, spa, and sky pool every inch of this development has been planned to create the penultimate luxury residential address in Lahore”.

Sky Villa at One Canal Road priced at over $2 Million poised to be the most expensive apartment in Lahore

Discussing the amenities Kobi said “Our amenities are en-par with the most luxury hospitality sector 5* hotel projects I have done across the world. With over 25,000 square feet of amenities and only 111 luxury residences One Canal Road presents the pinnacle of luxury living”.

Sky pool at One Canal Road by Diyar Homes.
Luxury residents’ private fitness suite


Luxury residents private fitness suite.

Residents private theatre
Four Seasons Private Residences, Fort Lauderdale designed by Kobi Karp architects

One Canal Road, Lahore is a $30 Million project by UAE based Diyar Homes. Diyar recently announced a collaboration with VERSACE ceramics as Lahore’s first project where finishing of floors and walls will be by the leading Italian design house.

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Pakistan records 70 per cent rise in exports to China

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Pakistan enjoys zero duties on exports of hundreds of products to China under free trade deal

ISLAMABAD – In a major development, Pakistan has recorded nearly 70% increase in exports to China in the first quarter of 2021, an official has told media.

“Impressive figures of Pakistan’s exports to China in 1st quarter of year 2021. $888 million as compared to 2020′ Q1 $526 million. An increase of 69%,” Moin ul Haque, Pakistan’s ambassador to China, said on Twitter.

Haque praised his team for, encouraging for more: “Let us keep this momentum to achieve a historic record in 2021.”

Last year, phase two of the much-touted China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect, which now allows Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export around 313 new products to the Chinese market with zero duties.

Pakistan is already enjoying zero duties on exports of 724 products to China under the first free trade pact signed between the two countries in 2006. After implementation of the second pact, Pakistan has been now allowed to export more than 1,000 products to China with zero duties. The new facility is particularly benefiting the agriculture, leather, confectionary items, and biscuits product sectors as well.

In 2019, Pakistan also signed an agreement with China to use Chinese currency for bilateral trade to get rid of the dollar burden in $15 billion bilateral trade.

According to official data, Pakistan and China’s bilateral trade volume grew to some $15.6 billion in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $2.2 billion in 2005.

The two longtime allies are also partners in the multi-million-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to boost trade and stimulate economic growth.

The $64 billion mega-project signed in 2014 aims to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China with cheaper access to Africa and Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.

Exports to other countries

Despite rise in exports to China, Pakistan has witnessed fall in exports to its western neighbour Afghanistan and other regional countries apparently due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic during past year.

The country’s exports to Afghanistan fell 5.57% to $746.3 million over the last nine month of fiscal year 2021, compared to $790.3 million during the same period of last year, according to leading daily Dawn.

A few years ago, Afghanistan was the second-major export destination for Pakistan after the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s exports to India also plunged 90.5% to $2.2 million this year from $23.1 a year earlier, according to the report.

Islamabad’s exports in 2020 dropped by over 90% to $28 million from $311 million in 2019, following suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India after New Delhi’s move to scrap the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

However, Pakistan’s exports to Japan and some central Asian countries witnessed an increase.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to Pakistani premier on commerce and investment, said in a statement that Islamabad’s exports to Japan grew by 47% to $86.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021.

“The exports of seafood, petroleum, dry fruits, spices, minerals, woven fabric, knitted garments, sports goods, cutlery & dates increased,” he said.

The official also said that Pakistan’s exports in April also stood at $2.19 million.

“This is the first time since 2011 that our monthly exports have crossed the 2-billion mark for seven consecutive months,” Dawood stated.

However, he said, “the export growth of 129% over Apr-2020 cannot be taken into account due to lockdown last year.”

The country’s exports from July 2020 to April 2021 rose by 13% to $20.8 billion compared to $18.4 billion year-on-year, Dawood noted.

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Another 0.5 Million SinoVac doses arrive from China   

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Vaccine arrives as Pakistan gears up to provide vaccine jabs to people at large

ISLAMABAD – A special plane of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) carrying 0.5 Million consignment of SinoVac Vaccine arrived here at NurKhan Airbase Islamabad from China on Thursday. The consignment is procured on payment from China.

The consignment arrives as Pakistan gears up to provide vaccine jabs to all its people across country after Eid-ul-Fitr. SinoVac vaccine has been tested in Pakistan’s three major cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore and has proved its worth.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned an emergent meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for COVID-19 on Friday as key decisions are expected from the meeting in the wake of rising coronavirus cases and deaths across country.

Sources have told DiploMag that the meeting chaired by Prime Minister will be attended by federal ministers, chief ministers and chief secretaries of the four provinces. The meeting will review the situation in Coronavirus Pandemic across the country.

Sources in the federal government have informed this correspondent that the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister would evaluate its options to counter the recent spike in infections of Covid-19. Over the past week or so, the average cases across country stand at 11 percent and the numbers are not dropping down from five thousand new infections on a daily-basis.

The sources said that the meeting led by prime minister would discuss the possibility of imposition of lockdown in major cities of the country with a rate of more than ten percent, while business activities in major cities and areas could be suspended and offices closed.

It is said that the decision of lockdown is likely in the cities of Corona with a rate of more than ten percent. Businesses are likely to be suspended and offices closed in the lockdown cities and areas.

The NCC will give final approval to the lockdown decision in the most affected cities. On the other hand, according to the data released by the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), 57,591 Coronavirus tests were conducted during the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of code 19 tests to 1137,742. A further 5,857 positive cases have been reported.

Thus, the number of certified corona patients in Pakistan has reached 778,238. So far, 275,081 in Sindh, 279,437 in Punjab, 19,704 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 71,533 in Islamabad, 21,242 in Balochistan, 16,026 in Azad Kashmir and 16,026 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Coronavirus Pandemic has been diagnosed in 5,215 people. Similarly, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar has already warned that big cities are not being closed yet but caution has not been observed during the third wave of the pandemic.

“If SOPs are not followed by the people, then big cities will have to be shutdown under lockdown,” Asad Umar warned.

 

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