Islamabad, Nov 30 (AP/UNB) — Pakistan's currency has plunged further as the country is mired in a financial crisis and seeking an $8 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund.
The Pakistani rupee was trading at 142 to the dollar on Friday, a decline from 133.90 rupees to $1 at close of business the previous day.
Analyst Mohammad Suhail says it's a clear indication the government has no option but to accept IMF conditions for the bailout — the "bitter pill" required to tackle significant economic challenges such as high fiscal and current account deficits, low growth and foreign exchange reserves.
He says the rupee has plunged 15 percent since parliamentary elections in July and 36 percent over the past year.
IMF and Pakistan held a week of negotiations in Islamabad earlier this month.
Beijing, Nov 29 (AP/UNB) — Most Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the pace of U.S. interest rate increases might slow.
KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 22,278.70 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 5,758.40. Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.4 percent to 2,116.75 and India's Sensex gained 1 percent to 36,077.42. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1 percent to 2,597.55 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent to 26,592.61. Benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia advanced.
FED WATCH: In a speech in New York, Powell said rates are close to neutral, the level at which they neither hold back growth nor aid it. Powell appeared to suggest the Fed might pause its cycle of interest rate increases next year to assess the effects of its actions. That relieved investors who feel the 9-year-old bull market could come to an end if rates rise too fast. The Fed cut rates to zero in 2008 during the global financial crisis but has been raising them since the end of 2015 and is expected to announce another increase next month.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rocketed to their biggest gain in eight months following Powell's comments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 617 points, 2.5 percent, to 25,366.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 2.3 percent to 2,743.79. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.9 percent to 7,291.59. Tiffany skidded 11.8 percent after it said foreign tourists, especially from China, didn't spend as much at its stores in its latest quarter.
CHINA-US TRADE: Three days before President Donald Trump is due to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, the chief American trade envoy criticized Beijing's import taxes on American-made cars. Beijing cut auto import duties this year to 15 percent but added a 25 percent penalty on those from the United States in response to Trump's imposition of similar charges on Chinese goods in dispute over technology policy. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Chinese duties on American-made cars are "especially egregious," and said he would "examine all available tools" to equalize charges on auto imports.
ANALYST'S COMMENT: The mix of Powell's and Lighthizer's comments indicate "it's far too early to suggest that a Santa Claus rally is in the cards," said Stephen Innes of currency trader OANDA in a report. Lighthizer's statement reflected Washington's "great ideological divide," said Innes. Still, "this dovish Fed lean is a fantastic cure-all for what ails stock markets sentiment."
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 44 cents to $50.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.27 on Wednesday to close at $50.29. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 30 cents to $59.39 in London. The contract lost $1.31 the previous session to close at $59.09.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 113.43 yen from Thursday's 113.67 yen. The euro gained to $1.1377 from $1.1368.
Dhaka, Nov 27 (UNB) - Country Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Manmohan Parkash has expressed the optimism that Bangladesh will be known as a ‘technically advanced nation’ producing large ships through development of skills.
“It’s (shipbuilding) a hidden gem,” he told UNB after visiting Western Marine Shipyard at Patiya upazila of Chattogram district where he witnessed progress under the ADB-assisted skills for employment investment programme.
He said Bangladesh has tremendous potentials with its economy growing at 7 to 8 percent currently but the growth can become 8-10 percent if people are trained with the right education. “I’ve absolutely no doubt.”
Parkash highlighted five things -- good policymaking, good tech management, investing in infrastructure, investing skills and human capital; and embracing the new technologies for better Bangladesh with a stronger economy.
“These five things can make Bangladesh a well-developed country. That’s a dream I have, that’s a passion you have. We can work together to really make Bangladesh a beautiful and wonderful country,” he said.
Parkash, a professional with over 32 years of experience, oversees the implementation of the ADB Country Partnership Strategy for Bangladesh (2016-2020).
Responding to another question, he said Bangladesh is a very blessed country and it is a land of opportunities.
“The only thing it needs is to harness the endowment it has. It has so many endowments. One of the biggest endowments is its people. You have young population. You have such youths who are hungry for knowledge and who have a passion to do something good for tomorrow,” Parkash said.
And, he added, they (young people) want to build a good Bangladesh for their own, for their children and grandchildren.
Explaining how Bangladesh can do it, Parkash said Bangladesh can do it by training them with good teachers.
“And you can do it by having people like you have at Western Marine Shipyard Limited Ltd who have really brought these people from remote areas and giving them an opportunity so that they can become people to stand up on their own feet gaining skills,” he said.
Parkash, who joined the ADB in 2002, said the quality of wielding and the quality of technical things that he saw display that they are not less than anybody.
The other advantage of Bangladesh, he said, is that the cost will be much less compared to the international one which means Bangladesh can easily capture the international market.
“Why should I go and buy expensive technology from the West when I can produce the technology taking advantage of using my own people? I can export this technology to the West and other countries,” Parkash said sharing what Bangladesh can do.
Talking about the importance of skill development in Bangladesh, he said the ADB is really the pioneer of skill development, and Bangladesh needs technical and vocational education much more now.
Parkash said shipbuilding is a unique industry and it is really teaching people how to do wielding maintaining the international standard and the certification is specially done by an international certification agency.
“So, these wielders not only can build ships here for us, they can also build ships for outsiders. They’re now building ships for Norway, a developed country. What will be a more proud moment for Bangladesh that ships built in Bangladesh to be exported to Norway, and Norway will use that,” he said.
Parkash said Bangladesh started building ships at the right moment and it is good to see Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also been giving a lot of importance to inland waterways and coastal shipping with other countries.
He laid emphasis on taking advantage of Bangladesh’s location since it is at a place where Asean countries are on the East, India is on Bangladesh’s West and in South Bangladesh has got China.
Managing Director of Western Marine Shipyard Ltd M Sakhawat Hossain said Bangladesh will continue to make its presence stronger in the international shipbuilding market through enhancing its productivity and developing skills.
He said the investment in skill development generated more jobs and it is boosting the image of Bangladesh and adding values in a big way.
“We can have stronger presence in global market as we’re saying -- shirt to ship,” he told UNB sharing their success stories and how they took the Bangladesh flag to the global market with ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tag.
Executive Project Director of Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) Jalal Ahmed said they are working on SEIP-2 which will begin from 2021 as the project is helping the country boost national productivity.
He said the main components of SEIP are to scale up training in six priority sectors -- garments and textile, leather and footwear, construction, light engineering, IT and shipbuilding.
Chief Coordinator, training programme of Association of Export Oriented Shipbuilding Industries of Bangladesh (AEOSIB) with SEIP, Captain Mohammed Habibur Rahman said a total of 7328 people were enrolled of them 5625 have already been assessed.
“So far, our success rate is 88.53 percent,” he said shrining the success stories in the areas of wielding and fabrication, electrical and navigation, machine tools operation, machinery installation, painting and piping.
Brussels, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — The European Union's highest court is hearing arguments on whether Britain could unilaterally revoke its decision to leave the EU ahead of its planned exit date of March 29.
The European Court of Justice on Tuesday opened the session, which will assess the issue under an accelerated procedure due to the urgency of Brexit.
Since Article 50 of the EU treaty of Lisbon dealing with the issue is scant on details — because it was expected that no member state would want to leave — a group of Scottish legislators want to know to what extend the U.K. can pull out of the withdrawal procedure on its own, amid increasing pressure from Brexit opponents for a second referendum on the decision to leave.
The court decision could take several months.
Washington, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — To hear President Donald Trump tell it, he was made for a moment like this: A high-stakes face-off. A ticking clock. A cagey adversary.
The man who calls himself a supreme dealmaker will have the opportunity this week to put himself to the test. The question is whether he can defuse a trade war with China that is shaking financial markets and threatening the global economy — and perhaps achieve something approximating a breakthrough.
Trump is to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, during the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday and Saturday. Unless the two leaders can achieve a truce of sorts, their conflicts will likely escalate: On Jan. 1, the tariffs Trump has imposed on many Chinese goods are set to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent, and Beijing would likely retaliate.
Most analysts have said they doubt Trump and Xi will reach any overarching deal that would settle the dispute for good. The optimistic view is that the two sides may agree to a cease-fire that would buy time for more substantive talks and postpone the scheduled escalation in U.S import taxes.
Yet no one really knows. Each side seems prepared to wait out the other in a conflict that could persist indefinitely.
In advance of the meeting, Trump has sounded his usual note of boastful confidence. Speaking to reporters on Thanksgiving Day, he said:
"I'm very prepared. You know, it's not like, 'Oh, gee, I'm going to sit down and study.' I know every stat. I know it better than anybody knows it. And my gut has always been right."
Most trade analysts are skeptical that any significant agreement is likely this week.
"Expectations should be very low," said Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Institute and a former U.S. trade official who negotiated with China. "We need to be very clear-eyed. It's going to be a very difficult negotiation. The issues at hand don't lend themselves to quick solutions."
The trade war erupted last fall after Trump imposed import taxes on $250 billion of Chinese goods, and Beijing retaliated with tariffs on U.S. exports. The justification for the U.S. move, according to Trump, is that Beijing has long deployed predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America's technological dominance. The administration alleges — and many trade experts agree — that Beijing hacks into U.S. companies' networks to steal trade secrets and forces American and other foreign companies to hand over sensitive technology as the price of access to China's market.
Beijing disputes those allegations and asserts that Trump's sanctions are merely an effort to hinder an ambitious rival.
Besides the scheduled escalation in U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods — an additional $50 billion in Chinese imports already face the higher tax — another threat looms: Trump has threatened to tax $267 billion more in Chinese imports. At that point, just about everything Beijing ships to the United States would face a higher import tax.
Growing concerns that the trade war will increasingly hurt corporate earnings and the U.S. economy are a key reason why U.S. stock prices have been sinking. As of Friday's close, the Standard & Poor's 500 index has shed roughly 10 of its value since setting a record high Sept. 20.
Joining other forecasters, economists at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development last week downgraded their outlook for global economic growth next year to 3.5 percent from a previous 3.7 percent. In doing so, they cited the trade conflict as well as political uncertainty.
Some big U.S. companies, in reporting quarterly earnings in October, warned that they were absorbing higher costs from Trump's increased tariffs, which have been imposed not only on Chinese goods but also on imported steel and other goods from other countries.
"We need some certainty," said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council and a former American diplomat. "The U.S. and China cannot go into a trade war and not affect global markets ... We need to resolve our differences."
Yet as Trump and Xi prepare to meet, the backdrop is hardly encouraging. Acrimony between the two sides disrupted this month's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea. The 21 APEC countries, torn by differences between Beijing and Washington, failed to agree on a declaration on world trade for the first time in nearly three decades. Vice President Mike Pence and Xi sniped at each other in speeches.
Then last week, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer issued a report charging China's efforts to steal U.S. trade secrets have "increased in frequency and sophistication" this year despite American sanctions.
"China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months," the report concluded.
The tenor of the report suggested that the United States would take a hard line into this week's talks. In the meantime, "the amount of uncertainty is unprecedented and very disquieting to the markets," said Allen of the U.S.-China Business Council.
Trump himself sought Monday to increase the pressure on China. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said it was "highly unlikely" that he would agree to Beijing's request to suspend the tariff hikes that are set to take effect Jan. 1. And he repeated his threat to target an additional $267 billion in Chinese imports with tariffs of 10 percent or 25 percent.
Clouding the outlook are mixed messages from the Trump administration. The White House appears divided between hawks like Trump's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and free traders like the top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow. On Nov. 9, Navarro delivered a combative speech suggesting that Trump didn't care what Wall Street thought of his confrontational China policy.
Four days later, Kudlow went on CNBC and dismissed Navarro's remarks as "way off base."
"They were not authorized by anybody," Kudlow said. "I actually think he did the president a great disservice."
Regardless of which approach Trump takes to Buenos Aires, Trump and Xi don't have to resolve their differences this week. A cease-fire that suspends any further escalation of the U.S. tariffs wouldn't be unprecedented. The administration and the European Union, for instance, reached a truce last summer that suspended threatened U.S. tariffs on European auto imports.
"My personal guess — and I'm sticking my neck out here — is that there will be some kind of cease-fire agreed to," said Matthew Goodman, a senior adviser on Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Goodman noted that Trump appears concerned about tumbling stock prices, and Xi is contending with a decelerating Chinese economy. A truce would bring at least a temporary calm.
"No one is expecting they will come out with a solid agreement," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "What the market wants — what the market needs — is a sense that they are negotiating and that the negotiations will continue."