UK’s Hammond embraces Belt and Road on China visit, says Hong Kong will have a key role in BRI

HONG KONG – Beijing has made it very clear that Hong Kong will have a major role to play in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the special administration region’s top official said on Wednesday (June 27).

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam was speaking at a global forum set up to exchange ideas on the BRI, which she noted was picking up of momentum five years after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his signature plan to rekindle historic trade routes linking China to Europe and the rest of Asia over land and sea.

“This is a very important forum for us, to have firsthand information about the Belt and Road, including things which are of great interest to many of you – the projects, the policies, the financing and so on,” Mrs Lam said in her short address to participants of the forum on Wednesday evening.

The forum is an alliance of 110 organisations from 29 countries comprising international chambers of commerce, business associations, research institutes and think tanks to explore ways to collaborate in moving the BRI forward. More than 80 forum members across 24 countries gathered here yesterday (Wed)

Although many Asian and European countries have shown a willingness to participate in the ambitious BRI, there has also been concern in some quarters over whether the infrastructure projects are sustainable, especially those requiring long-term investments.

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautiously climbed aboard in a bid to prevent the BRI from turning into a wasteful splurge on white-elephant projects by providing public financial management and training on debt risks.

One of the concerns the IMF had was that the BRI would drive up debt in countries where it was already high.

But many in Hong Kong’s financial sector see opportunities in these projects.

Mr Vincent Lo, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), said: “We all share a common goal of creating opportunities and benefits from the Belt and Road Initiative. Using Hong Kong as a commercial hub, the forum helps you make international connections and find partners to turn concept into business.”

The roundtable, which took place earlier in the day, consisted of two sessions, said Mr Andrew Weir, Belt and Road Committee member as well as global chairman of real estate and construction at KPMG.

Asked what the key takeways were from the discussion, Mr Weir said it was how the BRI was not just about infrastructure projects but represented “broader economic connectivity which gives rise to sectors beyond infrastructure and new geographies and new sectors”.

“The other big takeaway was how to identify the right projects, assess the risks and then package projects in a way which ensures they’re bankable and how that requires very early discussion at consortium level and with public bodies and investment agencies,” he added.

Besides risk management, participants also talked about ways to ensure international standards on safety, contracting and governance, Mr Weir shared.

On Thursday (June 28), speakers from Hong Kong, mainland China and countries along the BRI will share insights on intergovernmental cooperation and business opportunities for different sectors at the third Belt and Road Summit.

Organised by the Hong Kong government and HKTDC, the summit’s theme this year is “Collaborate for Success”.

It is expected to link some 5,000 participants with projects, services, businesses and investment opportunities.

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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill meets with Xi Jinping; signs up to China’s Belt and Road initiative

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing as part of a trip that saw the Pacific nation signing on to Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative.

During the meeting, the leaders agreed to promote bilateral relations between the two nations to a new level.

It was also revealed that during the same trip PNG had signed up to China’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative, according to a statement from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission.

Mr Xi said PNG was an influential Pacific island country, noting that China-PNG relations had made historic progress since their establishment 42-years-ago, especially after a strategic partnership was established in 2014.

“Mutual political trust and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides have reached a new historical level,” Mr Xi said.

“China appreciates Papua New Guinea’s firm adherence to the One-China policy and is willing to work together with Papua New Guinea to strengthen communication, deepen cooperation, expand exchanges and push bilateral relations to a new level.”

Mr Xi stressed that not long ago PNG officially joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and is the first Pacific island country that signed a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road construction.

He said both sides should actively expand pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road so as to inject a new power to the sustainable and stable development of the bilateral relationship.

Mr O’Neill said PNG had been committed to deepening the strategic partnership with China, and firmly adhered to the one-China principle.

“Papua New Guinea is committed to deepening its strategic partnership with China, firmly pursuing the One-China policy, highly praising and actively supporting president Xi Jinping’s great ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative,” he said.

He said that he hoped to expand “cooperation with China in the fields of economy and trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure”.

Mr Xi also said China was willing to enhance coordination in multilateral mechanism with PNG and supported the country to host this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting for building an open Asian-Pacific economy.

According to the Lowy Institute, China spent $858.4 million on 27 projects in PNG between 2006 and 2016.

China’s influence can be seen in the funding of Port Moresby’s new $35 million International Convention Centre, the venue for the upcoming APEC summit.

China has also been involved in large-scale road projects, building a six-lane boulevard between the convention centre and the nearby national parliament — worth an estimated $40 million — and an upgrade to the Port Moresby freeway.

Mr O’Neill arrived in China on Wednesday for a week-long visit to strengthen ties with China that will include visits to Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

His visit comes amid continued concern in Australia about the growing influence of China in the Pacific region, with Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop telling Fairfax Australia wanted to be the “natural partner of choice” to Pacific nations.

But Peter Hartcher, the political editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, said Australia had “already been caught napping” on investment in the Pacific.

“The Australian Government now finds itself in a catch-up phase,” Mr Hartcher told the ABC’s The World program.

“The reason that countries like Papua New Guinea and earlier Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are interested in Belt and Road … is we haven’t been such great and generous benefactors ourselves over recent decades.”

Mr Hartcher added that it was unlikely Australia could keep up with the size of Beijing’s foreign aid warchest.

“You don’t need a begging bowl when you go to Beijing these days because the Chinese have put out a giant honeypot … a giant treasure chest,” he said.

“They’ve invited more than 100 countries in the world to participate and take some of the treasure, at least as a loan. You don’t need to beg. The Chinese are practically ladling it out.”

SOURCE:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-22/png-prime-minister-peter-oneill-meets-with-xi-jinping-in-beijing/9897248

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CPEC: beyond infrastructure

Recently, I came across a very interesting research undertaken by a private sector firm that ranked the 67 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to assess their attractiveness for investment and infrastructure. The research was based on publicly available data from the IMF, World Bank, UNDP and Transparency International.

On this Belt and Road Index, Pakistan was ranked the 11th least attractive country. The index was based on economic potential, demographic advantage, infrastructure development, institutional effectiveness, market accessibility and resilience to natural disasters. Out of the six parameters, Pakistan performed the worst on institutional effectiveness, with a score that was less than half of India’s and lowest within South Asia, surpassing only that of Afghanistan.

The results are not surprising and resonate rather well with data from other sources as well as with anecdotal evidence. A few weeks ago, I met an investor, who has set up a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant in Pakistan on an industrial plot in a government-sponsored industrial estate. To his dismay, the land title still is in the name of private individuals and despite knocking on various doors he has not had any luck in the last two years in transferring the title in his name, despite payment of all dues. In the meanwhile, his lenders are pushing for ownership record before he can access credit.

This is one of countless such examples. Investors keep on complaining about bureaucratic red tape, rent seeking by regulatory agencies and frequently changing policies leading to unforeseen costs.

About $46 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been committed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These have to be completed within 10 years or so. For a country with $300 billion GDP, it translates into additional 1 to 1.5% of GDP every year and provides the much needed capital to build north-south highways to facilitate trade and construct power plants to help overcome years of load-shedding.

Infrastructure development and growth go hand in hand. Ensuring uninterrupted supply of energy, building state-of-the-art road, rail and transport infrastructure and providing reliable urban services pave the way for future investments and growth. If, however, the infrastructure stock is not maintained and new investments are not made at the requisite level, it may lead to power shortages and transmission losses, congested roads prolonging travel time and poor quality infrastructure services discouraging investors to relocate, thereby straining growth prospects.

But the real question is whether good infrastructure is sufficient to attract investment. As per World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the five most problematic factors for doing business in Pakistan are corruption, tax rates, government instability, crime and inefficient government bureaucracy. Availability of infrastructure comes way lower in the list. This means that without addressing these soft yet potent issues, no amount of investment in hard infrastructure can convince the investors to invest.

The stories of Rajapaksa Airport and Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka have been frequently quoted by critics of CPEC and BRI, as examples of misplaced priorities and building expensive infrastructure without demand. With ten times more population than Sri Lanka and a strategically located port, Pakistan does not face the same risk of low demand. If anything, the CPEC road infrastructure can provide a very busy transit and trade route in future. Its special economic zones can host manufacturers that wish to relocate closer to their markets and the power plants can provide energy for the new industries. This is where the real returns on CPEC have to be expected.

This however would require a lot of homework domestically in addressing the softer issues. Without an enabling business environment, Pakistan can never achieve the dream of prosperity that has been promised under CPEC. And this would require fixing governance. Sooner or later, we’ll have to realise that there are no shortcuts to reform.

SOURCE:https://tribune.com.pk/story/1738036/6-cpec-beyond-infrastructure/

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India refuses to endorse CPEC at SCO summit

India was the only country on Sunday not to endorse a high-profile Chinese project at the end of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO summit in Qingdao even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that New Delhi’s priority was connectivity with the neighborhood and between the SCO countries.

All remaining seven members of the SCO summit bloc supported the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project which is part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – a multi-billion inter-continental connectivity mission. The 17-page joint Qingdao declaration said all other seven member countries had endorsed the project and agreed to work towards implementing it. India was not expected to endorse the BRI in the Qingdao declaration which was released soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi speech at the plenary session.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects of the BRI. India has stayed away from the BRI – the only SCO country to be opposed to it – saying the CPEC violates its territorial integrity.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi said India supports connectivity projects that are inclusive, transparent and respect territorial sovereignty.

Speaking at the plenary session of the summit, Modi said India’s priority was connectivity with the neighborhood and between the SCO summit countries in the region. “We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighborhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” he said and emphasized the need for inclusiveness and transparency in connectivity projects to be successful.

Published in Daily Times, June 11th 2018.

SOURCE: https://dailytimes.com.pk/252018/india-refuses-to-endorse-cpec-at-sco-summit/

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At SCO summit, India again says ‘no’ to Belt and Road

India on Sunday again said “no” to China’s Belt and Road project, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain merely shook hands on the final day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao city.

India, which participated at the Chinese-led security bloc for the first time after being inducted into the grouping last year, did not figure in the list of rest of the member states endorsing Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative in the joint declaration.

 Earlier in the day, Modi made it clear that New Delhi was all for connectivity projects but could not compromise its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India strongly opposes Beijing’s multi-billion dollar project, which aims to connect Asia with Europe through a network of roads, ports and sea lanes.

New Delhi’s objection is to the key artery of the project – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which goes through the Kashmir governed by Pakistan and claimed by India.

“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighborhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” Modi said.

“We welcome any new connectivity project, which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent, and respects a country’s sovereignty and regional integrity,” he said at one of the sessions at the Summit.

This is one of the contentious issues between India and China but both seem to have decided not to let it affect other aspects of bilateral ties.

Like India, Pakistan also became a member of the SCO in 2017 and attended the event for the first time.

“It was noted that the SCO had asserted itself as a unique, influential and authoritative regional organization whose potential had grown remarkably following the accession of India and Pakistan,” the 17-page Qingdao declaration said.

With the inclusion of India and Pakistan, the grouping has expanded into an 8-member bloc. China, Russia, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are SCO’s other members.

Modi, who had bilaterals with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders, just had a handshake with the Pakistan head of state.

The ties between the two countries have plummeted following attacks at Indian Army bases and continuing violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

The bloc vowed to fight terrorism.

“The SCO’s coordinated policy of waging an effective fight against challenges and threats to security remains unchanged. Practical interaction in this area will be facilitated by the adopted Programme of Cooperation between the SCO Member States in Opposing Terrorism, Separatism, and Extremism for 2019-21.”

During the summit, Modi and Xi had a “substantive” meeting on Saturday. India struck major deals like the export of rice and Indian pharmaceutical products to China.

The bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2020 was another important announcement by both sides.

The Kyrgyz Republic will take over the Presidency of the organization. The next meeting of the Council of SCO Heads of State will be held in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2019.

SOURCE: http://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/world/at-sco-summit-india-again-says-no-to-belt-and-road/287805.html

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China launches meteorological satellite to benefit Belt and Road countries

XICHANG: China on Tuesday launched the new Fengyun-2H meteorological satellite to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and provide better meteorological services to countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, reported Xinhua News

The Fengyun-2H was launched on a Long March-3A rocket at 9:07 p.m., Beijing Time, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

It was the 277th mission of the Long March rocket series.

A geostationary orbit satellite, Fengyun-2H is the last in the Fengyun-2 series. The Fengyun-4 series will dominate China’s new generation geostationary orbit meteorological satellites, said Zhao Jian, deputy director of the Department of System Engineering of China National Space Administration (CNSA).

In response to a request from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), the position of Fengyun-2H will be changed from original 86.5 degrees east longitude to 79 degrees east longitude.

This means the Fengyun series satellites will be able to cover all the territory of China, as well as countries along the Belt and Road, the Indian Ocean and most African countries, according to the CNSA.

The adjustment will enable the Fengyun series satellites to acquire meteorological data over a wider range, improve weather forecasting accuracy and the ability to cope with climate change and mitigate losses caused by natural disasters, Zhao said.

Equipped with a scanning radiometer and space environment monitor, Fengyun-2H will provide real timecloud and water vapour images and space weather information to clients in the Asia-Pacific region, said Wei Caiying, chief commander of the ground application system of Fengyun-2H and deputy director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center.

The Belt and Road region, which is mainly high mountains, deserts and oceans, lacks meteorological information. Damage from natural disasters, especially meteorological disasters, in the region is more than double the world average.

After four months of in-orbit tests, Fengyun-2H will provide data to help Belt and Road countries better cope with natural hazards, Zhao said.

“The move shows China’s willingness to construct a community with a shared future,” said Zhao.

It also addresses a WMO request to strengthen satellite observation of the Indian Ocean to fill a gap in the region, which is China’s contribution to the international community as a major power of the developing world, Zhao said.

China will offer data of the Fengyun series free to Belt and Road countries and APSCO member countries, said Zhao.

China has helped establish ground stations to receive the data in some APSCO member countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Iran and Mongolia. China plans to upgrade the stations and provide training to technicians in those countries.

If countries along the Belt and Road are struck by disasters like typhoons, rainstorms, sandstorms and forest or prairie fires, they can apply for and quickly get the data, Wei said.

China’s meteorological satellites have played an important role in the Belt and Road region. For instance, the Fengyun-2E satellite captured an indication of heavy rainfall in Pakistan in August 2017 and issued a timely warning to avoid casualties.

China already has 17 Fengyun series meteorological satellites in space, with eight in operation, including five in geostationary orbit and three in polar orbit, to observe extreme weather, climate and environment events around the globe.

The WMO has included China’s Fengyun series of meteorological satellites as a major part of the global Earth observation system. They provide data to clients in more than 80 countries and regions. Weather forecasts in the eastern hemisphere depend mainly on China’s meteorological satellites, according to the CNSA.

Since Fengyun-2A was sent into orbit on June 10, 1997, the Fengyun-2 series satellites have monitored more than 470 typhoons emerging in the western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

They helped improve the accuracy of typhoon forecasting. In 2015, the deviation of China’s prediction of typhoon tracks within 24 hours was less than 70 kilometers, among the world’s best, according to the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), producer of the Fengyun series.

The new generation Fengyun-4A geostationary meteorological satellite launched at the end of 2016 can improve observation efficiency by 20 times compared with the Fengyun-2 series, said SAST.

SOURCE:https://nation.com.pk/06-Jun-2018/china-launches-meteorological-satellite-to-benefit-belt-and-road-countries

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Gwadar free zone’s industrial units to start working by year end

KARACHI: At least 10 industrial units will start working at Gwadar port’s free zone by this yearend as the first phase of the zone has been completed, a senior Chinese official said on Tuesday.

Zhang Baozhong, chairman of China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan (COPHC) said six of the industrial units are from China, while four are local and they are setting up projects related to edible and palm oil processing and automotive and services industries.

“A sum of $300 million has already been invested in the mega-project, while another approximately $200 million would be spent on phase-II for which the feasibility report is already complete,” Baozhong said, speaking at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) event.

In January, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the first phase of Gwadar Port’s free zone that would facilitate regional and global trade under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

COPHC, the operator of Gwadar port, said more than 30 firms related to banking, fish processing and hospitality committed around $500 million of direct investments in the zone. The port was leased to China’s state-run company for 40 years.

Baozhong said Gwadar port is operational and the customs authorities have deployed manual one-customs clearing system to process import and export consignments. The web-based one customs system could not be installed at Gwadar port due to unavailability of interconnection infrastructure.

COPHC’s chairman said the port’s berth lengths would be increased to 1,500 meters from existing 600 meters while the approaching channels would be deepened to 17-23 meters through dredging, which would enable arrival of any type and size of vessel in the world. “Business community, government, local communities and chambers of commerce are extending support in the development of Gwadar, which is a popular investment destination for investors in China as well as in Pakistan,” he added.

Baozhong said Gwadar is the most efficient port in the country offering low handling charges, no demurrage, and infrastructure connecting to the rest of the country. “In five years, it will be the new economic hub in the region.”

Senior Vice Chairman FPCCI Syed Mazhar Ali said the apex trade body planned to set up a sub-office in Gwadar to serve as the information sharing platform for the business communities of China and Pakistan.

Balochistan government granted land for the development of FPCCI sub-office, while COPHC offered the body to set up a temporary office in their building in Gwadar.

SOURCE: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/326039-gwadar-free-zone-s-industrial-units-to-start-working-by-yearend

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To avoid China’s debt trap, Malaysia to re-examine projects under Belt and Road Initiative

Malaysia is not keen to blindly go ahead with projects offered by China under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the recently-elected Malaysian government has said. It also indicated that it would attempt to balance its relationship with Beijing and re-examine the projects that were earlier agreed to by the previous government.

The need to avoid the Chinese debt trap was a topic that was repeatedly underscored in the run-up to the elections in Malaysia by the Pakatan Harapan alliance and its leader and current Prime Minister, the 92-year-old Mahatir Mohamad.

“China comes with a lot of money and says you can borrow this money. But, you must think, ‘How do I repay?’ Some countries see only the project and not the payment part of it. That’s how they lose large chunks of their country. We don’t want that,” Mohamad said, reported news agency ANI.

 Mohamad’s newly formed government would take a look at the projects under the BRI that were agreed to by the previous government led by Najib Razak, Mohamad’s former protégé.

Malaysia is not the first country in which projects funded or built by China have come under the scanner when the government changed after an election. The same thing happened in Sri Lanka in 2015, when the new Maithripala Sirisena government cancelled some of the Chinese-backed projects that had been signed by the previous government of Mahinda Rajapakse.

The Sirisena dispensation, left to deal with the mounting debt because of the Chinese projects, found itself unable to repay the loans. In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government was forced to hand over control of the Hambantota Port to Chinese companies for a period 99 years.

Concerns have also been rising in Pakistan, which has placed its already-precarious economy under further strain of Chinese loans to continue its projects along the troubled China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Mahatir Mohamad’s concerns seem to stem from the spate of agreements that were signed by the Najib government under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet Belt and Road Initiative. Among these was the $13.1 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which aims to link Malaysia’s more industrialised east coast with its less-developed western coast and interior highlands. will run from Port Klang, Malaysia’s main port near the capital Kuala Lumpur, to Tumpat on the border with Thailand, bisecting the peninsula’s hilly interior.

Other projects include a build-and-manage agreement for a deep-sea port and an industrial park near the city of Melaka, a port rebuilding project in the town of Kuantan, and a massive residential project close to the southern border with Singapore.

China has already been accused by a number of countries of using the Belt and Road Initiative as a tool to further its expansionist goals by giving out loans for high-value projects of uncertain viability.

Malaysia’s geography would also provide an attractive strategic positioning for China, given its location along the Malacca Strait, through which a massive portion of China’s energy supplies pass through.

SOURCE: http://zeenews.india.com/world/to-avoid-chinas-debt-trap-malaysia-to-re-examine-projects-under-belt-and-road-initiative-2114262.html

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Pakistan, Russia set to sign $10b offshore pipeline deal next week

ISLAMABAD: In a major breakthrough, Pakistan and Russia are poised to sign a $10-billion offshore pipeline deal, a project planned by the latter to capture the energy market of Pakistan.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the cabinet had approved the signing of the gas pipeline laying deal and Pakistan ambassador to Russia had been authorized to ink a memorandum of understanding with Moscow.

The envoy is likely to ink the understanding in Moscow on Monday. Final cost of the project will be assessed following a feasibility study to be conducted by Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Russia has nominated Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom for implementation of the project. Pakistan’s cabinet has also permitted the company to conduct the feasibility study at its own cost and risk.

One-week deadline: Sindh warns cutting off gas supply to country

Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) – a state-owned company of Pakistan established to handle gas import projects and is already working on gas pipeline schemes like Tapi, has been nominated by Pakistan to execute the offshore pipeline project along with Gazprom.

ISGS is also working on the $10-billion Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Tapi) gas pipeline to connect South and Central Asia and construction work on the scheme in Pakistan will start in March next year.

These projects are called a game changer for Pakistan as they will not only lead to regional connectivity, but will also meet growing energy needs of the country.

Amid a long-running tussle with Europe and the United States over the annexation of Ukrainian region of Crimea, Russia is looking for alternative markets and wants to capitalise on the growing energy demand in South Asia.

Russia, which controls and manages huge gas reserves in energy-rich Iran, plans to export gas by laying an offshore pipeline through Gwadar Port to Pakistan and India, which are seen as alternative markets because Moscow fears it may lose energy consumers in Europe over the Crimea stand-off.

Russia has been a big gas exporter to European Union (EU) countries and Turkey since long and despite US anger the European bloc has continued to make imports to meet its energy needs.

Moscow receives gas from Turkmenistan and then exports it to EU states. Later, it has got gas deposits in Iran as well and is looking to gain a foothold in markets of Pakistan and India.

OGDC finds new deposits of oil, gas in Sindh

Pakistan has been experiencing gas shortages, particularly in winter, for the past many years as domestic production has stood static with new additions being offset by depleting old deposits.

In a bid to tackle the crisis, the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) kicked off liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from Qatar under a 15-year agreement two and a half years ago and is bringing supplies through other sources as well.

According to a government official, after signing the MoU for the offshore pipeline, work on the feasibility study will begin in an attempt to assess viability of the project. Russia is even ready to finance the study. Russian gas exports touched an all-time high in 2017. According to Gazprom, gas flows to Europe and Turkey, excluding ex-Soviet states, hit a new daily record at 621.8 million cubic metres.

Annual exports touched 179.3 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2016, a significant jump from the previous high of 161.5 bcm in 2013 and well above the 2015 total of 158.6 bcm.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2018.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1726303/1-pakistan-russia-set-sign-10b-offshore-pipeline-deal-next-week/?amp=1&__twitter_impression=true

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Businessmen ask parties to elucidate policy on CPEC

LAHORE – The Lahore Businessmen Front, the opposition group of traders and industrialists at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has urged the political parties to elucidate their policy regarding China Pakistan Economic Corridor in (CPEC) their economic agenda to the business community before the forthcoming general elections.

FPCCI standing committee chairman and LBF senior leader Sardar Usman Ghani criticised the government for not taking into account the concerns of local businesses regarding the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He said the corridor has a deep rooted implication for the region stretching from Pakistan, China, Iran, Central Asia to USA and India.

He said that the inflow of Chinese investment and business enterprises will adversely impact the interests of Pakistani business communities, urging the government to announce the same incentives to the local investors declared for foreign investors of China Pakistan Economic Corridor in  projects.

He said that successive past governments and present rulers had totally neglected the business and industrial sectors. He said that political parties besides convincing general voters should also give a clear road map to improve the falling exports and support the deteriorating economy.

He stressed that all political parties should develop a consensus on the economic roadmap to make Pakistan a strong economy.

He said the charter of the economy was absolutely necessary for achieving better economic growth and all political parties should rise above their political interests and develop a consensus on the economic roadmap and national economic agenda to put Pakistan on the path of sustainable economic growth.

SOURCE:https://nation.com.pk/03-Jun-2018/businessmen-ask-parties-to-elucidate-policy-on-cpec