- The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association has requested Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz to permit the export of half a million tonnes of surplus sugar.
- On Thursday, the documented steel sector suggested to the caretaker government that steel imports be permitted exclusively through sea routes to curb the organized crime of smuggling steel from Iran and Afghanistan. Despite protests, the government has begun implementing a new visa regime at the Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan and only individuals with valid passports and visas would be allowed to cross.
- Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar announced on Thursday that discussions on a new program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be considered if more time is available. She also announced the government's deferral of plans to issue a $1.5 billion international bond after a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a nine-month bailout package.
- The KSE-100 Index set a new record high, crossing 57,000 points, following the successful staff-level agreement between Pakistan and the IMF. The market was also influenced by the recent treasury bill auction, suggesting a potential decline in interest rates.
- A report from the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) emphasizes the urgent need to adhere to the 1.5°C target to prevent the catastrophic melting of ice sheets and glaciers. The OECD reported on Thursday that developed nations may have fulfilled their overdue promise of $100 billion to aid poorer countries in addressing climate change in 2022.
COMMODITIES - CROPS, LIVESTOCK & HORTICULTURE
- Sugar Export Request - The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association requested Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz to permit the export of half a million tonnes of surplus sugar. Despite an increase in sugar exports in the current fiscal year, the national average sugar price reached an all-time high above Rs 200 per kg in August, attributed to factors such as massive exports, smuggling, and hoarding. [Dawn]
- Global Cotton Output Plunges: Lowest in Eight Years - The global cotton output for 2023-24 is projected to hit its lowest level in the past 8 years, reminiscent of the conditions in 2020-21 when demand drove prices to an 11-year high. Despite the current output decline, world cotton prices recently fell below 80 cents/lb, signaling potential recessionary levels, following a 12-month period of price stability between 80-90 cents/pound. [BR]
- Exploring Agriculture in Gorakh Hills: Agricultural experts and progressive farmers have suggested establishing experimental farms for grapes, pomegranates, and dragon fruit in the Gorakh Hills area, following experiments in dragon fruit production by Sindh Agriculture University. This proposal was discussed at a seminar on the "Growing Potential of Dragon Fruit in Sindh" organized by the Department of Horticulture at SAU, Tandojam. [Dawn]
- Dairy Products Import: Rs 2.1 billion was the import value of milk, cream and milk food for infants in Sept 2023. [ET]
AGRI-INPUTS, WEATHER, WATER & POWER
- Anti-Smuggling Initiative: Steel Industry Proposes Sea-Only Imports - On Thursday, the documented steel sector suggested to the caretaker government that steel imports be permitted exclusively through sea routes to curb the organized crime of smuggling steel from Iran and Afghanistan. In a letter to the FBR and the Ministry of Commerce, the large steel industry aimed to discourage the smuggling of steel by restricting imports to sea routes. [BR]
- Energy Sector Advancement: OGRA-PRL Agreement - In a noteworthy development in line with Pakistan's refining policy, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) have officially signed a crucial upgrade agreement. This agreement, following thorough consultations and meetings with key stakeholders, represents a significant milestone for the energy sector, as announced by Masroor Khan, the chairman of the Oil and Gas Authority. [BR] [Dawn] [ET] [PO] [The Nation]
- IMF Program Vital: Finance Minister on Economic Stability - Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar highlighted the importance of staying in the IMF program for economic stability and announced a planned increase in gas prices in January 2024. [BR]
- Milestone Accord: Pakistan & Iran Advance Gas Pipeline Project - In a significant development, Pakistan and Iran have agreed to actively engage in developing a consensus implementation plan for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, with negotiations set to commence in the next 2-3 weeks. While the Iranian deadline for potential international arbitration by September 2024 remains, both countries are exploring bilateral avenues to address concerns, as confirmed by Energy Minister Muhammad Ali following constructive talks in Tehran. [The News]
- PIA Privatization Plan: EY-led Consortium Tasked - The Privatisation Commission (PC) Board has assigned the task to financial advisor Ernst & Young-led consortium to formulate a plan for the privatization of Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL) by the end of December 2023, as approved by the interim cabinet on November 10. The decision to select the financial advisor was reportedly made during the visit of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the caretaker government assuring a swift completion of the PIACL transaction to meet IMF expectations. [BR]
- Chaman Border, Visa Regime Shifts, Sparks Local Opposition - Despite local protests, the government has begun implementing a new visa regime at the Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan. In November, the national apex committee decided that only individuals with valid passports and visas would be allowed to cross, replacing the previous practice of using national identity cards for border crossing. [Dawn]
- Air Quality Alert: Lahore Hits Hazardous Level, Tops Global Pollution - Lahore topped the global pollution ranking on Thursday, experiencing unhealthy air quality throughout the day. The city continues to grapple with a smog crisis affecting the health and livelihoods of millions. According to IQAir, Lahore's air quality index reached a "hazardous" level of 470, making it the worst in the world, followed by Delhi at 302 and Karachi at 204. [Dawn]
- Delayed Compensation: Farmers Affected by Floods Await Second Installment - Farmers affected by last year's floods in Pakistan, particularly those who lost their homes, are still awaiting the promised second installment of funds for reconstruction. Leaders of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee highlighted this delay in compensation. [Dawn]
AGRI UPDATES & PAKISTAN POLICY
- Pakistan's Financial Landscape: RDAs, Reserves, & Rupee - As of October 2023, Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs) have received $6.9 billion in foreign inflows, with a $142 million increase from September, as reported by the State Bank of Pakistan. Out of the total funds, $5.743 billion has been repatriated and used locally, resulting in a net repatriable liability of $1.155 billion by the end of October 2023. Meanwhile, Pakistan's liquid foreign exchange reserves fell by $79 million to $12.535 billion as of November 10, 2023. The Pakistani rupee also ended its 17-session depreciation against the US dollar, appreciating 0.26% to settle at 287.38. [BR] [BR] [BR]
- PTI President Says IMF, EU Visit Imran Khan in Jail - PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi asserted that representatives from the IMF and the European Union routinely visit the imprisoned PTI chairman Imran Khan at Adiala Jail, a claim refuted by the caretaker information minister as a "figment of imagination." [Dawn]
- IMF Talks Possible: Finance Minister on Pakistan's Economic Improvement - Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar announced on Thursday that discussions on a new program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be considered if more time is available. [ProPakistani]
- SIFC's Stride: The 7th Apex Committee of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) presided over by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar reviewed and appreciated progress on the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), urging a swift pace in the process. [BR]
- KSE-100 Index Hits Record High: Surges Past 57,000 Points - The KSE-100 Index set a new record high, crossing 57,000 points, following the successful staff-level agreement between Pakistan and the IMF. The market was also influenced by the recent treasury bill auction, suggesting a potential decline in interest rates. The closing surge was driven by contributions from the exploration and production, as well as fertilizer sectors. [Dawn]
- International Bond Deferred: Finance Minister Cites Fragile Economy - Caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar announced the government's deferral of plans to issue a $1.5 billion international bond. This decision follows a recent staff-level agreement with the IMF for a nine-month bailout package. During a press briefing, Dr. Akhtar emphasized the government's commitment to regular tariff adjustments, including a planned gas price hike in January, to prevent circular debt accumulation in the gas and power sectors. [Dawn]
INTERNATIONAL – OVERVIEW & MARKET OUTLOOK
- Israeli Troops Take 'Operational Control' of Port - Israeli troops claimed to have taken "operational control" of the key port in Gaza City, following a raid on the besieged territory's main hospital. At least a dozen tanks and groups of soldiers were reported to be massed on the coast near Gaza City. A near-complete communications blackout remained in effect, and additional evacuations were ordered from towns near Khan Yunis. Meanwhile, President Biden warned Tel Aviv against "occupying Gaza." [Dawn] [Dawn] [The Journal] [HT] [France24] [ABC]
- Asian Stocks Decline Amid US-China Tech Competition Fears: Asian stocks fell on Friday due to the escalating US-China tech competition, prompting Alibaba to cancel the listing of its $11 billion cloud unit. Alibaba's 10% drop weighed on Hong Kong and mainland benchmarks. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined but remained on track for a weekly gain of about 3%. Bond prices rose as US economic data suggested a gradual slowdown. [BBG] [USN] [CNBC] [AP] [ABC]
- Indian Rice, Improved Demand Spurs Price Surge - Rice prices in most Asian markets increased this week, driven by a rise in India's 5% broken parboiled variety due to improved demand. Despite a 20% export duty, Indian rice remained more cost-effective than supplies from other countries. The 5% broken parboiled variety in India was quoted at $493-$503 per ton, up from last week's $490-$500. The price surge was moderated by growing supplies from the new season crop. [BR] [CNBC] [BBG] [Nikkei] [FAO]
- Delhi's Toxic Smog Returns - Toxic smog in New Delhi intensified on Thursday as farm fires continued to rage in nearby fields, despite a court-ordered ban, reclaiming the title of the world's most polluted city. Pollution levels increased after a brief respite earlier in the week, prompting discussions on additional mitigation measures. However, a plan to induce rain through cloud seeding to combat the smog has been delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions. [BR] [Reuters] [WP] [Wired] [Weather]
- Critical Climate Warning: Report Highlights Urgency of 1.5°C Goal for Glacier Survival - A report from the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) emphasizes the urgent need to adhere to the 1.5°C target to prevent catastrophic melting of ice sheets and glaciers. Warning that a 2°C increase could lead to the demise of most glaciers and trigger long-term melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, causing a sea level rise of 12-20 meters, the report underscores the importance of meeting the 1.5°C limit set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Current greenhouse gas emissions have already caused around 1.2°C of warming, with projections indicating a potential exceedance of 3°C. [ET] [NS] [AP] [CNN] [ICCINET] [BNN] [Barron’s]
- Ahead of COP28: OECD Indicates Fulfillment of $100 Billion Climate Pledge - The OECD reported on Thursday that developed nations may have fulfilled their overdue promise of $100 billion to aid poorer countries in addressing climate change in 2022. Initially pledged in 2009 for transfer from 2020, rich countries had signaled the target might not be met until 2023. [ET] [CT] [BT] [NDTV] [Barron’s] [ZAWYA] [Yahoo]
- Global Demand Worries: Brent & WTI Hit Lowest Levels - Oil prices fell around 5% to their lowest in four months due to concerns over global demand, prompted by weak data from the U.S. and Asia. Brent settled at $77.42 per barrel, down 4.6%, while WTI dropped 4.9% to $72.90. Both traded at their lowest since July 7, and a contango structure, where front-month contracts were below later-dated ones, was observed for both Brent and WTI. [BR] [Dawn] [Reuters]
PAKISTAN - REMAINDERS
- 93-Year Breakthrough: Archaeologists Discover Copper Coins at Mohenjo Daro. [Dawn]
- Hajj Policy 2024 Revealed: The new Haj Policy 2024, will be a 20-day short package, costing approximately Rs80,000 more than the regular Hajj package which has been introduced. Saudi authorities have granted Pakistan 179,000 Haj seats, with half reserved for private operators. [Dawn]
- Digital Defense Boost: ICT R&D Fund Allocation Approved - The ECC has approved the release of Rs 5 billion from the ICT R&D Fund as bridge finance for the digital information infrastructure, aiming to strengthen Pakistan's defense against cyber-attacks. Simultaneously, the government has approved the Telecom Infrastructure Sharing Framework (TISF), enabling licensees to share both active and passive telecom infrastructure fairly and competitively, with the goal of enhancing sector efficiency. [BR] [BR]
- Opinion: Climate Change Crisis - “It is therefore exceedingly important that geopolitics is effectively handled at the earliest, especially in the wake of highly serious conflict in the Middle East recently, and before that the one is terms of the war in Ukraine that is also still ongoing, so that the existential threat of climate change crisis could be handled with the much-needed desired level of focus, and multilateralism.” - By Dr Omer Javed [BR]
- Opinion: Lingering Elite Capture - “The fact that we live in a highly unequal world is hard to deny. Glaring inequalities exist not only between rich and poor countries, but also within them. The gap between the rich and the poor in Pakistan is also quite alarming, and it continues being actively perpetuated by those in positions of power. Pakistan has an unenviable human development ranking due to its dismal literacy and health indicators, and due to the meager average income of its populace.” - By Syed Mohammad Ali [ET]