Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pakistan Ranked Among World's Top 10 Most Optimistic Nations

The results of the 2015 WIN/Gallup International survey of 68 countries across the globe show Pakistan ranking 5th on economic optimism and 10th on overall optimism.

The World Bank reporting the tailwinds pushing Pakistan's economic growth seems to support the optimism in Pakistan.  Most observers believe that the year 2015 has turned out to be a good year for Pakistan with the return of general optimism among businessmen, investors and consumers. Economic recovery has continued as Pakistan Army's efforts, including its Operation Zarb e Arb and Karachi Operation by Rangers, have started to bear fruit with significant decline in terrorism. There are new signs of a thaw in India-Pakistan ties with Indian Prime Minister Modi's surprise year-end visit to Lahore. Efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan took a new positive turn with the hopeful entry of the Taliban into a quadrilateral process involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States.

Source: WIN/Gallup Survey 2015

Overall, 64% of Pakistanis say they happy, slightly below the 66% average for the 68 countries surveyed. Among south Asian nations, 66% of Bangladeshis, 58% of Indians and 42% of Afghans say they are happy, according to WIN/Gallup International Survey for 2015.

Bangladesh (74%), Nigeria (61%) and Columbia (85%) top Hope, Economic Optimism and Happiness Indices respectively. Pakistan scores 42% (rank 10) on hope and 50% (rank 5) on economic optimism indices. India scores 47% (rank 9) on Hope and 44% (rank 6) on Economic Optimism indices.

Jean-Marc Leger, President of WIN/Gallup International Association, said that "2015 has been a tumultuous year for many across the globe, despite that the world remains largely a happy place. 45% of the world is optimistic regarding the economic outlook for 2016, up by 3 per cent compared to last year."

Let's hope the new crises unfolding at the start of the year 2016 such as the China market crash, the Pathankot terrorist attack in India, the new escalation of Iran-Saudi  conflict and the claimed hydrogen bomb test claimed by North Korea do not sour the 2015 year-end  optimism reported by the WIN/Gallup survey.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Trillion Dollar Economy

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor (CPEC)

How Can Pakistan Benefit From Low LNG Prices?

Who's Better For Human Development? Politicians or Musharraf?

Pakistan's Economic Recovery in 2015

SBP: Pakistan's GDP is Underestimated


Unknown said...

Well, happiness is based on people's mood. 😁
But I'm surprised to see India's optimisy less than 50%.
Poverty halved to 12%, literacy jumped, HDI is jumping from many years and as a normal Indian, I will not be exaggerating that living standards are improving remarkably every year. My income has become 3 times in last 4 years. Recent improvement in GHI too.
Anyway, Mr. Riaz Has, what India has taken of you. Whenever India has something bad, you never miss but whenever we achieve you never post.
You posted about "a Zillion reasons to escape from India" but never told that how many pakistani leave their country for every Indian doing so.
You bashed India for poverty higher than Africa but never posted when it fell to half in 2015.
You bashed over global hunger index but you are not now telling people that India is now better than Pak in GHI.
You didn't posted about leaping literacy and HDI of India.
Leaping electricity and renewable energy projects in India.
I know sir, you never miss whenever you get a chance for bashing India.
But you remain silent when India comes out of these problems.
In My Humble Opinion, if you fill your post with $hit against India, you must come up with a apologizing post whenever India improves.
Or you're trying to put weight only one side?

Sandeep said...

The Pakistani net migration rate per 1000 is 1.54 which is 40 times higher than India at 0.04 per 1000

World bank data

Riaz Haq said...

Sandeep: "The Pakistani net migration rate per 1000 is 1.54 which is 40 times higher than India at 0.04 per 1000"

Pakistan net migration rate is very low. It ranks 159 among 221 countries and territories.

India's is low too but only because most countries limit Indian immigration because of its vast size. If they opened it up, India would top the migration rate.

US, for example, categorizes India as a high immigration country and limits its quota.

Indian applicants rank third on the waiting list for US immigration visa:

Country Applicants
Mexico 1,344,429
Philippines 417,511
India 344,208
Vietnam 282,375
China-mainland born 260,265
Dominican Republic 207,406
Bangladesh 183,159
Pakistan 131,465
Haiti 119,696
Cuba 115,208
El Salvador 82,045
Jamaica 58,368
Iran 53,306
Korea, South 52,887
Peru 51,772
All Others 851,921
Worldwide Total 4,556,021

SANDEEP said...

Given Pakistan is only 1/6th the population, 131465 per 190 million versus 344208 per 1250 million, Pakistan has a HIGHER RATE.

SANDEEP said...

Sir, one more thing. Please review the indexmundi data carefully. A positive rate means people are MOVING INTO (IMMIGRATION) that country and a negative rate means people are LEAVING (EMIGRATION) that country. I hope that helps. Pakistan has emigration rate of 1.54 and India stands at 0.04 per 1000 people.

Riaz Haq said...

Volkswagen's #China Partner Plans to Build VW V2 Hatchback Cars in #Pakistan in 2016 via @business

China FAW Group Corp., a Chinese partner of Volkswagen AG, plans to start assembling cars in Pakistan to tap growing demand as measures to curb terrorism boost growth in the South Asian economy.

The company seeks to sell 10,000 vehicles, including vans, cars and pickups, in 2018 after it begins local assembly of the V2 hatchback at the end of this year, Hilal Khan Afridi, chief executive officer of Al-Haj FAW Motors Pvt., said in an interview in Karachi. Al-Haj FAW is the Chinese group’s local venture and began selling imported V2’s in January last year.
FAW will be the first carmaker in a decade to start assembling in Pakistan, where the economy is set to grow at the fastest pace since 2008 as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government tackles power shortages and terrorism. China’s President Xi Jinping has also pledged to invest $45 billion in the country, boosting the outlook for expansion.
“Initially we had a lot of difficulty to convince them to help us with technical expertise,” said Afridi. “Now that the Chinese market has slowed down they have increased their interest in international markets. It’s a good sign for us.”

Chinese spending on infrastructure may help Karachi-based Ghandhara Nissan Ltd. double sales of Chinese Dongfeng trucks. Al-Haj FAW sold about 3,400 vans and pickups along with 535 locally assembled trucks last year. The company plans to invest 1 billion rupees ($9.5 million) to assemble cars in Pakistan.

“Things are looking up for the auto industry,” says Ahmed Hanif Lakhani, analyst at Karachi-based Arif Habib Ltd. “The economy is growing and consumer demand is rising with low interest rates making leasing more feasible.”
Pakistan’s economy is estimated to expand 5.5 percent in the year to June, according to the Ministry of Finance. Car sales in the nation increased 52 percent to 15,724 units in November from a year earlier, according to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association.

Riaz Haq said...

SANDEEP: "Given Pakistan is only 1/6th the population, 131465 per 190 million versus 344208 per 1250 million, Pakistan has a HIGHER RATE."

A country with larger population is not entitled to more immigration visas.

The waiting list numbers in the report I cited are for eligible qualified applicants, not all visa applicants.

The fact is that the number of Indians entering US legally and illegally now exceed number of Mexican coming to the US.

Here's an excerpt of an NPR report:

"of the 1.2 million newly arrived immigrants here legally and illegally counted in 2013 numbers, China led with 147,000, followed by India with 129,000 and Mexico with 125,000. It's a sharp contrast to the 2000, when there were 402,000 from Mexico and no more than 84,000 each from India and China. "

Riaz Haq said...

#Afghanistan peace talks held in #Pakistan. #US and #China participate. #Taliban expected to join. @AJENews

Talks aimed at kickstarting negotiations for a final peace settlement in Afghanistan have taken place in Pakistan, emphasising the need for a dialogue between the government and the Taliban.

Monday's meeting - which also included the governments of the US and China - sought to revive the process that collapsed last summer after Afghanistan announced that Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder and leader of the Taliban, had died in a Pakistani hospital more than two years ago.

The announcement led the Taliban to pull out of the talks after just one meeting hosted by Islamabad.

The meeting in Islamabad emphasised the immediate need for direct talks between representatives of the Afghanistan government and representatives from Taliban groups in a peace process that aims to preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, said a joint statement released after the discussions.

The Quadrilateral Coordination Group - comprising representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US - is scheduled to meet in Kabul on January 18 "to hold discussions on a roadmap", the statement added.

Meanwhile, a former Taliban senior official said that "military confrontation is not the solution" and that a "political solution" was needed to end the war in Afghanistan.

"The motivation for peace talks was very weak in the past," Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said.

"But now the situation has changed and the Afghan government, America and Pakistan seem to have a readiness for dialogue.

"America has realised that a military confrontation is not the solution."

Earlier, speaking at the meeting, Sartaj Aziz, a foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan's prime minister, said that "the primary objective of the reconciliation process is to create conditions to bring the Taliban groups to the negotiation table and offer them incentives that can persuade them to move away from using violence as a tool for pursuing political goals".

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan receives remittances of $9.7b in 1st 6 months (Jul-Dec) of FY 2016 from diaspora. Up 6.2% from last year. …

Overseas Pakistanis sent remittances amounting to $9.7 billion in July-December, which translates into a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 6.2%, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday.

Remittances amounted to $9.1 billion in the same six months of the preceding fiscal year. They amounted to almost $1.63 billion in December alone, which is 2.8% higher than the remittances received in the preceding month, SBP data shows.

Pakistanis based in foreign countries sent home $18.4 billion in 2014-15, which translated into a YoY increase of 16.5%. Inflows from Saudi Arabia were the largest source of remittances in Jul-Dec. They amounted to nearly $2.9 billion in the six months, up 9.3% from the corresponding period of the last year.

Remittances received in Jul-Dec from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) increased 9.4% to $2.1 billion on a YoY basis. Inflows from the UAE had registered the largest increase (26.1%) from any major remittance-sending country in 2014-15, SBP data shows.

In the first six months of the current fiscal year, remittances from Dubai have surged 42% YoY. But the figure for overall inflows from the UAE so far has remained subdued because of a 27.2% annual decline in remittances from Abu Dhabi over the same period.

Remittances from the United States and the United Kingdom remained $1.3 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively, in Jul-Dec. The YoY change in remittances from the US and the UK has been -4.4% and 3.2%, respectively.

Decline in US

According to a separate SBP report issued last month, it believes that US workers of Pakistani origin are holding on to their savings within the United States instead of remitting them back home. They are withholding that portion of their savings that they would otherwise send their families for “investment purposes,” the SBP believes.

In the presence of a wide gap between the rates of investment returns in the United States and Pakistan, US workers of Pakistani origin would prefer investing their savings in Pakistan until recently – something that resulted in healthy annual growth in worker remittances from the United States for many years.

But with interest rates going up in the United States and coming down in Pakistan, the difference in the average investment returns is narrowing.

Remittances from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, excluding Saudi Arabia and the UAE, clocked up at $1.1 billion in Jul-Dec, which is 11.7% higher than the remittances received from these countries in the same months of the preceding fiscal year.

Remittances from Kuwait in Jul-Dec equalled $365.6 million while those from Oman, Bahrain and Qatar amounted to $391.4 million, $236.5 million and $180.2 million, respectively.

This means the overall share of the oil-rich GCC countries in Pakistan’s remittances is over 64%. Many analysts fear remittances from these countries may dwindle going forward, as their governments begin to scale back infrastructure spending in the wake of a sharp fall in global oil prices.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and ‘other countries’ last month amounted to $136 million as opposed to $102.9 million received in December 2014.

Riaz Haq said...

#China Powers up #Pakistan: The Energy Component of the CPEC | The Diplomat #CPEC …

China and Pakistan held a ceremony beginning construction for the planned Karot hydropower plant on January 10, marking the start of one more energy project on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The $1.65 billion hydropower plant, spearheaded by China’s Three Gorges Corporation, was the first project to receive funding from China’s Silk Road Fund. Upon completion (scheduled for 2020), the Karot plant will provide 720 MW of energy harnessed from the Jhelum River.

The Karot plant is part of the broader China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, which itself is part of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative to link China with Europe (and all the regions in between). Though the CPEC is often understood solely in terms of transportation infrastructure – developing the Chinese-controlled port at Gwadar and linking it to China via rail and road – that’s not the only aspect of the project. Under the “1+4” cooperation framework unveiled during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s April 2015 visit to Pakistan, the CPEC is the “1,” with the “4” representing key areas of the larger strategy. Energy is one of those four areas, along with Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, and industrial cooperation. In fact, China and Pakistan officially broke ground on five new energy projects, all of them considered part of the CPEC, during Xi’s visit to Pakistan last year.

Along with the Karot hydropower project, the CPEC also includes Chinese construction of the world’s largest solar plant in Punjab Province. The first section began providing electricity in August 2015; the second portion is currently under construction by Chinese firm Zonergy. When completed by the end of this year, the entire solar plant is expected to produce up to 1,000 MW of power.

Another project is a coal power plant at Port Qasim, which was in fact the first energy project included under the CPEC framework. According to China Daily, the plant, being constructed by Powerchina Resources Ltd., will cost $2 billion and should be finished by the end of 2017. The project will consist of two 660 MW coal plants, for a total energy generation of 1320 MW.

Of course, Chinese investment in Pakistan’s energy sector predate the CPEC — just look at perhaps the most famous joint project, the $10 billion expansion of the Karachi nuclear power plant. But the scale of the CPEC energy projects are mind-boggling.

All told, 14 Chinese-constructed energy projects in Pakistan tied to the CPEC are supposed to provide an additional 10,400 MW of electricity by March 2018 – more than enough to make up for Pakistan’s 2015 energy shortfall of 4,500 MW. And that’s only part of the story. According to China Daily, there are a total of 21 planned energy projects in the works under the CPEC framework. Altogether, these projects should eventually produce 16,400 MW of power, roughly the same as Pakistan’s current capacity.

As they say, the best-laid plans often go awry, so it’s likely not every project will be completed on schedule (or even at all). But the sheer scale of China’s energy plans for the CPEC ensures that it has a chance to be a game-changer for Pakistan, where rolling blackouts are common due to energy shortages.

Riaz Haq said...

Seeking Alpha on Asian markets:

- Vietnam is our favorite market for equities in our universe in 2016.

- Pakistan should benefit from CPEC "China Pakistan Economic Corridor".

- Consumer and pharmaceutical sectors are AFC's preferred sectors in Bangladesh.

Though it is a new year, there has not been a significant change in the concerns which are in investors' minds. The main worries in 2016 will continue to be the rise in US interest rates, the economic slowdown in China, and geopolitics in the Middle East.

Rising US interest rates have been an issue since the summer of 2013. Though many market participants expected the US Fed to raise rates in December 2015, fears over the impact of further rate hikes remain and this continues to dampen investor sentiment. Clearly, rising US rates would be negative for corporates and governments which hold USD debt. Having said that, amongst the fund's universe, not many or hardly any of the corporates have USD debt and if they do it is a small proportion of their overall debt levels. Further, of the fund's Top 30 holdings which account for 66% of the portfolio, only a few of the holdings are leveraged and not heavily. Regarding government debt in USD, the countries which could be impacted are Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as their foreign debt as % of GDP is ~21% and ~30% respectively. However, most of these USD debts are long term in nature and are also provided by multi-lateral agencies such as the IMF/ADB. Further, as mentioned previously, soft commodity prices are a big positive which can help negate the impact of rising USD interest payments.

Regarding the slowdown of the growth rate in China, as it was the case in 2015, the economies which depend heavily on exports to China could continue to see their economies being impacted. From the fund universe, Mongolia is heavily dependent on China as it accounts for 80-85% of Mongolia's total exports with most exports to China being resource related. The fund's exposure to Mongolian resource stocks is not large and it is currently 3.2% of the fund with the overall exposure to Mongolia being 8.4% of the fund.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan domestic cement sales rise 16.32% in first half of fiscal year 2015-16 while exports decline. #CPEC

Cement sector remained buoyant locally during the last six months but exports remained under pressure, affecting the pace of growth in cement dispatches.

Dispatches increased by 6.4 per cent to 18.21 million tonnes during July-December 2015 as compared to 17.12m tonnes during the same period of 2014 due to increased domestic consumption which was up by 16.34pc to 15.2m tonnes as compared to 13.06m tonnes during July-December 2014.

The All-Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) said that exports declined by 26pc to 3m tonnes as compared to 4.06m tonnes during July-December 2014.

Factories located in north witnessed 15.32pc rise in domestic consumption as 12.63m tonnes of cement was sold in the domestic market in the last six months as against 10.96m tonnes during the same period of 2014.

South-based factories supplied 2.56m tonnes of cement to the local market as against 2.10m tonnes in the same period 2014, up by 22pc.

In exports, north-based mills registered a decline of 25pc as exports remained restricted to 1.9m tonnes as compared to 2.54m tonnes.

Factories in South also suffered a decline of 26.67pc in exports as quantity dropped to 1.11m tonnes in July-December 2015 as compared to 1.52m tonnes during the same period of 2014.

A spokesman for the association said that the industry had time and again drawn the attention of the government towards illegal imports from Iran or its under-invoicing. A proper vigilance and accountability system needs to be put in place to stop cement smuggling,” he said.

The government, the spokesman said, should impose 20pc regulatory duty on import of cement in addition to Customs Duty to protect the local industry.

The spokesman said the government should also give due attention to reduce energy cost, including removal of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) on gas, reduction of Customs Duty on coal to zero per cent and additional incentive of 5pc on export of cement by sea to reduce overall cost of operations to make Pakistani cement industry competitive globally.

Nabeel Khursheed of Top-Line Securities believes that start of construction projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be key to growth of cement industry.

On the cost side, international coal prices, which make up significant portion of the cost of cement manufacturing, have tumbled to near 10-year low of $52 per tonne. Crumbling coal prices, along with lower electricity charges, are likely to support margins of cement players going forward.

In the fiscal year 2016, he said, Pakistan’s cement sales may grow by 3.5pc year-on-year in the fiscal year 2016 to 36.7m tonnes (82pc capacity utilisation).

Local sales are likely to reach 31.5m tonnes, up 11.4pc year-on-year while exports are expected to decline by 28pc to 5.2m tonnes, he added.

Zakir said...

"The results of the 2015 WIN/Gallup International survey of 68 countries across the globe show Pakistan ranking high..."

Has this become a new incentive not to improve because people are happy? In the HDI level, Pakistan has not progressed relative to others and no one is highlighting the problems facing the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Zakir: "Has this become a new incentive not to improve because people are happy? "

Read the post's optimism that drives people to action.

Riaz Haq said...

500 sq yds to 1000 sq yds DHA #Karachi homes selling for half a million to a million us dollars average. #Pakistan …

The real estate market entered the fourth quarter smoothly, banking on the success of several popular property markets.

This followed a continuous rise in prices of real estate in major cities – Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad – in the third (July-September) quarter of 2015.

Why Lahore is better than Karachi today

Even though some projects of prominent developers did face a few impediments, this was not a reason enough to raise major concerns, according to a report released by, an online property portal.

According to the report, Karachi’s realty market performed brilliantly. There was just one exception – Bahria Town Karachi – which posted unfavourable numbers as prices of 250 square yard plots fell 5.39%. Similarly, a drop of 3.85% was recorded in 500 square yard plots in the third quarter.

DHA Karachi and DHA City Karachi, on the other hand, did not disappoint and gave investors encouraging returns. DHA Karachi recorded a sharp 8.27% price gain for 500 square yard plots and an even sharper rise of 12.35% for 250 square yard plots.

DHA City Karachi registered increases of 16.60% and 11.65% in prices of the two categories respectively.

Five reasons why Karachi is better than Dubai

DHA Karachi once again emerged as the most expensive locality, where the average sale price of a 500-square-yard house stood at Rs60 million and that of a 250-square-yard home was Rs41 million.

Lahore market

The property market of Lahore saw a humble upward movement. Although many major localities continued to excite investors by registering good levels of growth, DHA Lahore remained merely stable in the one-kanal category with prices dropping a negligible 0.69%.

However in the 10-marla category, a sharp drop of 6.61% was registered in the third quarter, said the report.

There could be a variety of reasons behind this, including the imposition of withholding tax on banking transactions, a rise in taxes and the income source disclosure notices sent to investors. Most significantly, the take-off of DHA projects in Bahawalpur, Multan and Peshawar may have shifted investor focus.

10 reasons why we love Karachi

In contrast, Bahria Town and LDA Avenue-I performed well despite multiple pending litigations. Bahria Town depicted a sharp price rise of 14.57% for one-kanal plots and a 5.32% increase for 10-marla plots. LDA Avenue-I posted a 5.04% rise in the one-kanal category and 7.63% gain in the 10-marla category.

Islamabad market

The real estate market of Islamabad showed a mixed picture. Sector E-11 registered price increases of 3.33% and 1.69% and F-11 recorded rises of 2.22% and 3.73% for one-kanal and 10-marla categories respectively.

Bahria Town experienced a sharp 5.66% rise for one-kanal plots whereas prices of 10-marla plots remained stable, with a negligible drop of 0.76%. Activity in DHA Islamabad seemed listless this time around. The one-kanal category saw a 1.57% drop, while 10-marla plots recorded a 4.30% drop.

The status of DHA Valley and the intended development of Dadocha dam on its site remained controversial. Needless to say, investor confidence has taken a hit.

Karachi population to increase by 50% in 15 years

However, DHA Islamabad has recently announced plans to allot alternative plots to those affected by the DHA Valley problems, so things could start to look better soon.

Predictably, Sector F-11 remained one of the most expensive localities, where the average price of a one-kanal house stood around Rs69 million and that of a 10-marla house was around Rs36 million.

Riaz Haq said...

#China's #CPEC investment in #Pakistan, largest ever in a foreign country, could grow even larger in 2016 and beyond …

It appears that the recently announced China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will remain at the centre of Sino-Pakistan ties during 2016, and even beyond. The CPEC, signed in 2013, got a boost in April 2015 during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Pakistan visit, where he announced the allocation of US$46 billion for its completion. This is the largest investment China has committed to another country, and the largest Pakistan has ever received.

According to some informed quarters, China may add to this volume if the implementation of the CPEC moves forward smoothly on the Pakistani side. The corridor intends to connect China’s western region with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port via a network of roads, rail and fiber optics.

The CPEC is a part of Xi’s grand strategic concept of “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) to connect with over 60 countries and regions. Under OBOR, besides CPEC, China has initiated other projects such as the Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor; Silk Route in Central Asia; and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route. But the CPEC is regarded as the ‘flagship’ project among them due to various reasons.

It is the only corridor that involves just one other country, Pakistan, and with whom China has a ‘trust’-based relationship. Other corridors consist of different countries with varying degrees of relations with China. Moreover, the CPEC can provide China an access to the Indian Ocean by reducing both time and distance. This route is not only shorter in distance but avoids the Malacca Strait and the vast Indian Ocean dominated by rival Indian and US navies.

For Pakistan, the CPEC can bring large-scale investments in the energy sector, infrastructure building, and industry, giving a boost to its moribund economy. Once Pakistan is prepared, China may also move some of its industry and bring Pakistan into its chain of production. Above all, the CPEC will increase China’s stakes in Pakistan which will leverage Islamabad in regional affairs. It is this backdrop that demonstrates the centrality of the CPEC in future Sino-Pak relations.

From the construction point of view, the corridor has been divided into short, mid and long-term projects. In 2016, progress or completion of some projects for infrastructure development and energy are expected. Actually, it is the top priority of the incumbent government to finish some projects at the earliest to show its performance to the public.

According to the understanding that exists between the two countries, Chinese state companies will build several CPEC-related projects. 2016 will thus witness a number of Chinese engineers, technicians and workers coming to Pakistan. There are already over 120 companies and 1,20,00 technicians engaged in different projects in Pakistan. This increased number of Chinese nationals in Pakistan will add to two-way exchanges. At the same time, however, it will also raise the question of their safety and security. Pakistan has established a special force of 1,20,00 men under the army to provide security to Chinese expatriates and guard their construction work. But given the law and order situation in the country, these measures appear insufficient. Lack of sufficient security may restrict the free moment of Chinese workers and tourists.

Riaz Haq said...

DAVOS, Switzerland: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Friday invited Swiss and international investors to Pakistan’s energy, telecom, infrastructure, urban development, agro-industry and textiles sectors that offer exciting opportunities for investment.

“I invite you to be our partners in realizing our vision for Pakistan. Our vision is of a Pakistan which is business friendly; a Pakistan where foreign investors feel safe and secure; and a Pakistan which is modern, progressive and forward-looking,” he told a group of investors here at a breakfast meeting.

“I assure you that my business-friendly government will extend all possible assistance to you in your business endeavours in Pakistan,” the Prime Minister said as he shared with the gathering, country’s greatly improved internal security situation, and robust economic indicators.

He was speaking at a Breakfast Meeting, hosted by Ikram Sehgal, Chairman of the Pathfinder Group on “Pakistan – A land of Business Opportunities.”

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Miftah Ismail attended the meeting along with around a hundred participants of the World Economic Forum.

The Prime Minister said investment incentives in Pakistan were diverse and business friendly.

“Our primary objective is to create an environment conducive for investment inflows. We offer a liberal investment policy, which includes 100 percent equity ownership, full repatriation of capital, tax-breaks, and customs duty concessions on import of machinery and raw materials,” Nawaz Sharif told the investors.

“We offer prospects of co-production, joint ventures with local partners and joint marketing arrangements. The taxation regime is one of the lowest in the region and its collection is undertaken through a dedicated Large Taxpayers Unit. A multiplicity of tax concessions is available along with provisions of tax exemptions to specific businesses,” he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the investors gathered in the Swiss town for the 46th World Economic Forum that Pakistan’s economic upturn was now being acknowledged and appreciated worldwide.

“Leading international publications, funds managers and rating agencies have made positive assessments of our economic turnaround,” he added.

He said Pakistan was home to the 6th largest population in the world with 180 million people. He said Pakistan has 26th largest economy by purchasing power parity, 44th largest economy by real Gross Domestic Product and the 10th largest country in the world, according to the size of its labour force.

“With a thriving democracy, sound economic policies, a youthful population, abundant natural resources and its strategic location, Pakistan is poised to emerge as an economic powerhouse in the region. We are promoting accountable, responsible and transparent governance, bolstered by a free media, independent judiciary and a vibrant civil society.”

Riaz Haq said...

‘#Pakistan to receive up to $500 million (portfolio investment) post #MSCI re-classification’ to emerging market … …

Pakistan is expected to receive an inflow of up to $500 million in foreign portfolio investment should the MSCI reclassify it as an emerging market in its upcoming annual review in May, says Next Capital CEO Najam Ali.

MSCI is a leading provider of international investment decision support tools. Assets of more than $9.5 trillion are estimated to be benchmarked to MSCI indices worldwide.

Investment portfolio: FDI shrinks to $803.2m in 11MFY15

Speaking to The Express Tribune last week, Ali said his conversations with foreign fund managers show Pakistan should expect “significantly better” investments after MSCI upgrades its status from Frontier Market (FM) to Emerging Market (EM).

Global institutional investors use different MSCI indices – such as frontier, emerging, China and US markets – to create balanced portfolios to generate maximum returns while keeping in view their overall risk appetite.

Ali’s comments follow several bouts of volatility on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) that were triggered by an unrelenting foreign sell-off.

In fact, foreign selling was one of the main reasons for the flat performance of the PSX in 2015, as the net outflow of foreign investment amounted to $317.3 million. In contrast, there was a net inflow of $382.5 million in 2014, resulting in a 33% rise in the benchmark index. Investors’ confidence in the stock market remains shaky, as most blue-chip shares continue to take a battering.

Three Pakistan companies upgraded on investors’ radar

Pakistan was part of MSCI EM between 1994 and 2008. However, the temporary closure of the Karachi Stock Exchange in 2008 led MSCI to remove it from EM and classify it as a “standalone country index”. MSCI made Pakistan a part of FM in May 2009 and it has remained as such since then.

Currently, six Pakistani companies – Engro Corp, MCB Bank, Habib Bank, United Bank, OGDC and Fauji Fertilizers – meet the size and liquidity criteria of MSCI for EM. A company must have market capitalisation of $1.3 billion to be part of EM as opposed to $670 million for FM. Similarly, the EM requirement for minimum free float is $670 million as opposed to $52 million for FM.

Pakistan’s weight in the MSCI FM Index is 8.9%. Its weight in the MSCI EM Index will be approximately 0.17%. “Most FM funds will continue their investment in Pakistan as long as the improving macro theme is intact,” Ali said, adding that EM funds will also start investing in Pakistan post-reclassification. “If Pakistan’s macro story improves further, we can expect a significantly higher level of inflows.”

Qatar and UAE underwent an MSCI upgrade recently. Both markets witnessed “dramatically positive impacts” when their reclassification to MSCI EM was announced in May 2013, Ali said. “UAE saw a 40% re-rating in the price-to-earnings multiples between May 2013 and May 2014 while the re-rating in Qatar over the same period was 45%,” he added.

Currently 15 companies on the PSX have a market capitalisation of more than $1 billion. More companies will qualify for MSCI EM with better liquidity and free float, he added.

365 days, 685 points

Time to buy

Ali said nothing in the Pakistani market should worry international investors. “Foreign funds are receiving redemption requests, which means they have to offload investments locally as well. But foreigners are selling only a handful of Pakistani stocks. Why should the rest of the market fall? It is time for locals to buy.”

He suggested that the finance minister should set up a market stability fund of Rs20 billion under the state-owned asset management company with the sole objective of absorbing any foreign selling. “It will restore investors’ confidence in the market. The economy is doing well, so should the stock market,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Economist Amartya Sen: "Never been optimistic about #India. But today, I'm more pessimistic" #Modi #BJP via @qzindia

From Davos to New Delhi, prime minister Narendra Modi and his government are trying hard to sell the story of India’s revival. But Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has scarcely been more pessimistic about the state of the nation.
At an evening session of the Kolkata Literary Meet on Jan. 23, the 82-year-old Harvard University professor was asked if and when he had felt the most optimistic in the decades of observing India’s policies on education, the agency of women, and healthcare.
“I don’t think I’ve felt optimistic at any time,” Sen replied chortling, as the audience of a few hundreds chuckled briefly.
His early years during India’s colonial occupation, he explained, were no reason for optimism, although there was much hope that Independence would turn the situation around. “Then came Nehru’s speech at midnight, and we were going to do great things in education and healthcare,” Sen said. “That remained the rhetoric, and is still today the rhetoric.”

“You said that schools have expanded…” Sen said, turning to Harvard University historian and Trinamool Congress member of parliament, Sugata Bose, who was in conversation with the economist on stage. “They have expanded but still there are many schools with one teacher, which is very difficult…”
Bose helpfully recalled the “savage cuts” in primary education under the Modi government. Indeed, in the first full budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley last year, the government cut back on the country’s education budget by 16%, with a 10% reduction in planned outlay to the school sector. Alongside, the government’s spending on health dropped by 15%.
“What I didn’t recognise,” Sen continued, “I feared it might be worse (but) I didn’t recognise, what Sugata (Bose) referred to just now, how big and savage the cuts in an already very low budget would have been.”
“China spends 3% of its income on healthcare,” he explained. “We spend less than 1% and most of it goes in a peculiar way like RSBY (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana), which is totally counterproductive. You subsidise private hospitals with it when you have expensive treatment but you don’t do the basic public services in healthcare…”

“So I never was very optimistic, but am I more pessimistic right now? Ya.”
Another round of muffled laughter followed.
This isn’t the first time that Sen has expressed concern on India’s renewed attempts to push for higher economic growth without first improving its education and healthcare systems. In an interview last November at the London School of Economics, Sen had explained:
India is the only country in the world which is trying to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. It’s never been done before, and never will be done in the future either…
…India is trying to be different from America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, China—all of them. This is not a good way of thinking of economics. So foundationally, the government’s understanding of development underlying their approach is mistaken. Having said that, the previous government was terribly mistaken, too. But one hoped there might be a change, and there has been, but not for the better. All the sins of the past government have been added up.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan plans its first mega nuclear 2000 MW power plant - The Economic Times
Energy-starved Pakistan will set up a mega nuclear power plant with power generation capacity of 2,000 megawatts, the first in the country's history.

"It will be the first time in the history of the country that a mega nuclear power plant would be set up with power generation capacity of 2,000 megawatts," Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said today.

Iqbal said that Thar is enriched with natural coal deposits and the government is committed to utilising the res ..

"Super critical technology will be used in the coal power plant, which will be established with the financing of the Asian Development Bank in Jamshoro to ensure a safe environment," he was quoted as saying by the Radio Pakistan.

Pakistan faces about 5,000 MW energy shortages and the government has launched several projects to bridge the gap.

Riaz Haq said...

The Rise Of #Pakistan: Analyst "extremely bullish on Pakistan's future" #CPEC … $PAK

By Dylan Waller

I am extremely bullish on Pakistan's economic future, and focus on buy opportunities for listed equity in Pakistan.

ETFs are often not the best reflection of a country's value, and there are some relevant concerns I have with this ETF.

Pakistan trades at a strong discount to emerging Asia, and will be reclassified for eligibility as an emerging market this year.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor will serve as a catalyst for Pakistan's economy, and primarily benefit the cement industry.

Pakistan is an incredibly relegated frontier market, with strong upside potential, driven both by the strong levels of growth ahead for the country, and Pakistan's discount to emerging Asia. The newly launched Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF (NYSEARCA:PAK) offers U.S. investors exposure to Pakistan's economy, by investing in a diverse portfolio of approximately 32 securities. I have noticed, along with other SA contributors, that ETFs are often not a pure representation of a country's economic potential, and have also personally observed that actively managed funds offer a superior alternative to outperform a stock market index/ETFs.

An extreme case of a poor performing ETF in a strong performing market is the Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (NYSEARCA:VNM), which curiously declined amid the VN Index gain for a wide number of reasons, mainly due to its industry approach and valuation. Investing in strategic, high-growth industries, while selecting stocks with lower valuation and higher dividend yields, is one of the clear cut ways to outperform the index and be successful in frontier and emerging markets. I have previously outlined a bull case for Pakistan in this article, and would like to follow through with an analysis of which industries in Pakistan should be sought after and avoided, and whether the Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF is an appropriate vehicle for this promising, frontier market.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's $222 Billion Make-in-#India Haul Masks Hurdles To Come. #MakeInIndia Inauspicious start with fire … via @ndtv

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's glitzy campaign this week to showcase India as the world's next manufacturing hub met with a few unpleasant realities of life in Mumbai: a fire engulfed one of the event stages and a strike by rickshaw drivers paralyzed traffic in the financial hub.

More worrying is the conflicting data and vague timelines that raise questions about Modi's "Make in India" drive, which on Saturday he called "the biggest brand created in India."

The tally for investment pledges soared on the final day to 15.2 trillion rupees ($222 billion) - more than triple what India has attracted through foreign direct investment since Modi came to office in May 2014.

Whether any of that will materialize remains to be seen. Right now the campaign launched in 2014 is best known for its logo - a lion made of cogs - that has shown up on billboards from Hannover to San Francisco.

"It hasn't really taken off," Radhicka Kapoor, a fellow at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, said of the campaign. "It'll take a lot more than a flashy new website, a new lion symbol, and catchy phrases to make India a manufacturing powerhouse and create productive jobs for its rapidly rising workforce."

Modi is pushing to lure manufacturers that can create millions of jobs, allowing India to take advantage of a demographic dividend as its population surpasses China in the next decade. While India's 1.3 billion people and high growth rate make it a stand-out among emerging markets, other indicators are grim: Investment remains weak, exports have fallen for 14 straight months, borrowing costs are relatively high and trade deals have stalled.

Modi's efforts to make it easier to operate in Asia's third-biggest economy have yet to show up in key external indicators. In the World Bank's Doing Business index, for instance, India still ranks 130 of 189 economies - well short of Modi's goal to crack the top 50 in two years.

One of the problems of Make in India, Kapoor said, is that it fails to address the outsized influence of states - many governed by Modi's opponents - on regulatory environments. Unions have opposed changes to some of the world's most rigid labor laws, and a fractious parliament has blocked a goods-and-services tax that would create a single market in India for the first time.

"India is a difficult place to govern, and one needs to have patience," said Nilmadhab Mohanty, a former civil servant and honorary senior fellow at the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development in Delhi. "But we don't have much time - other countries are competing for this and investors will go elsewhere."

"Under the pressure of this campaign, the government machinery will be required to make a number of corrections on the policy front," Modi said in the speech on Saturday, speaking to an audience that included his Swedish and Finnish counterparts. "We are committed to make India an easy place to do business."


Added to promises Modi has drummed up from foreign leaders, total investment pledges come to at least $421 billion since he took power - more than what has come in during the past 14 years for which data is available.

There's reason to be skeptical that India will see the money. About 8 percent of nearly 40 trillion rupees proposed at investment summits during Modi's 11-year tenure as Gujarat chief minister was actually implemented, according to data from the state's Directorate of Economics and Statistics.

Modi, for one, knows the pressure is on to deliver.

"There is no time for incremental changes," he said last week. "We want a quantum jump."

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan: An Undiscovered Land Of Opportunities For International Investors. #CPEC … $PAK $NTWK $PKKKY


Lowest market P/E in the region with the highest return.

Macroeconomic stability.

Upgradation of Moody's rating of the country.

Pakistan is the 26th largest economy according to PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), and the sixth largest populous country in the world with a burgeoning middle class, having 54% of the population below the age of 24 years. In news, Pakistan has been presented as the turbulent nation embroiled in militancy and political violence. However, the landscape of the country has been changing since the past two years, with an improving macroeconomic situation, steady political outlook and substantial improvement in law and order, and the upgradation of its bond ratings from Caa1 to B3, a stable outlook.

On 9th June 2015, the MSCI stated about a potential reclassification of the MSCI Pakistan Index into Emerging Markets from the current classification of Frontier Markets in its 2016 Annual Market Classification review. This categorization would trigger a large flow of emerging market funds to return to Pakistan as the MSCI Emerging Market Index is tracked by global funds worth $1.7 trillion, according to Bloomberg.

Further, in one of the lectures at the Aga Khan University, the Chief Investment Strategist of Morgan Stanley said that Pakistan's rise is just a matter of time. This was due to the favorable demographics and the lower P/E of the stocks - performing better in terms of return - when compared to the markets of the developed world.

The KSE 100 Index, which tracks the top 100 companies out of the 557 listed on the stock exchange had a five-year US dollar CAGR of 25% (highest among its peers) and net profit margins 60% above the five-year average of the peer group whose margins are 10.2% lower than its five-year average. The Bourse has an average ROE of 19.2% against the peer average of 10.2%.

Pakistani stocks are cheaper when compared to their regional peers. Consider the following graph for further details:

As the above graph illustrates, Pakistani stocks have a lower P/E, P/B and higher dividend yield relative to its peers.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Stock Exchange breaches 33k-point barrier. #PSE #Karachi | Shanghai Daily: …

The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) broke the psychological barrier of 33,000 points on Monday for the first time since January 7, 2016 as investors took keen interest in oil stocks in the wake of rising international oil prices.

The Pakistan Stock Exchange's (PSX) benchmark KSE 100-Index skyrocketed by 1.79 percent or 580.86 points to 33,022.60 points on Monday when compared with 32,441.74 points reported on Friday. During the nine-day bullish rally, the main index has piled on 2,458.10 points from 30,564.50 on Feb. 23 to 33,022.60 points on March 7.

The KSE All Share Index jumped by 1.62 percent or 361.08 points to 22,628.04 points, the KSE 30-Index augmented by 2.24 percent or 429.92 points to 19,600.42 points, the KMI 30-Index elevated by 2.16 percent or 1,216.13 points to 57,514 points, whereas the Islamic All Share Index gained 1.69 percent or 256.60 points to 15,479.22 points on Monday.

During Monday's trading session, the main index moved in a broad range of 588.55 points as it scaled an intraday high of 33,030.29 points as against an intraday low of 32,441.74 points.

Investors gained confidence with international oil price rising which resulted in a buying spree in other sectors including cement. Continuous foreign inflows in cement sector helped Maple Leaf Cement (MLCF), Dera Ghazi Khan Cement (DGKC), and Fauji Cement Limited (FCCL) to close up 3.5 percent, 1.64 percent, and 1.93 percent, respectively.

Oil prices continued to rise internationally which led gain in Pakistan Oilfields Limited (POL), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) by 2.31 percent, 3.62 percent, and 3.25 percent, respectively.

Market volumes surged by 35.09 percent or 52.763 million shares to 203.118 million shares on Monday when compared with 150.354 million shares recorded on Friday.

Market capitalization increased by 1.78 percent or 120.809 billion rupees (1.184 billion U.S. dollars) to 6.916 trillion rupees (67.812 billion dollars) whereas trade value swelled by 39.32 percent or 3.381 billion rupees (33.151 million dollars) to 11.98 billion rupees (117.458 million dollars).

Among 364 active scrips on Monday, prices of 250 issues advanced, 82 declined, whereas values of 32 other companies stayed unchanged at previous week's level.

Jahangir Siddiqui Company Limited, TRG Pakistan Limited, and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited were the top traded companies with turnovers of 14.761 million shares, 14.568 million shares, and 10.735 million shares, respectively.

Nestle Pakistan was the top price gainer with increment of 95 rupees (93.14 cents) to 6,800 rupees (66.66 dollars) while on the flip side Wyeth Pakistan Limited led the major price shedders with decrement of 60 rupees (58.82 cents) to 1,750 rupees (17.15 dollars).