VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 16th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Kharif crops may face drought-like situation: Dawn
May 16, 2018

For the first time in five years, the Kharif crops may face a ‘drought-like situation in sowing season’, as all early indications and estimates for the agriculture produce appear worsening. Irrigation authorities and weather pundits reported that water shortfall in the remaining four weeks of the sowing season could increase up to 52 per cent. The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) advisory committee in an urgent meeting held on Tuesday noted that water shortage since the start of the sowing season early last month had turned out to be 42pc — much higher than the previous estimate of 31pc — with the result that the provinces would have to brave a proportionate cut in their water share during the remaining period of early Kharif season ending on June 10. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Karzai, Janjua pledge to make APAPPS a success: Pajhwok
May 15, 2018

Senior Pakistani and Afghan officials have pledged to make a fresh start in their relations, marred by tensions and allegations. The pledge comes hard on the heels of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) being put in place. At their meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua agreed to step up efforts for the success of the plan. They vowed to take a fresh start, bridge existing gaps, build formal cooperation mechanisms in all areas of mutual interest and initiate collective actions to boost bilateral trust. Janjua hoped APAPPS would be instrumental in bringing both sides closer. Hekmat Karzai also believed the initiative would make bilateral cooperation sustainable and would cover the gaps in the relationship. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
U.S. criticizes China for shielding Myanmar from U.N. action: Reuters
May 16, 2018

The United States indirectly criticized China on Monday for shielding Myanmar from strong U.N. Security Council action over a military crackdown against mainly Rohingya Muslims that the U.S. and other countries have denounced as ethnic cleansing. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley did not mention China by name, but China proposed substantial amendments to a British-drafted Security Council statement on Myanmar last week. The 15-member council eventually agreed a weaker statement. The Security Council met on Monday to discuss a visit by envoys to Myanmar and Bangladesh two weeks ago. Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August last year sparked a military operation that sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH
China Outbids India For Bangladesh's Largest Stock Exchange -- What's Next?: Forbes
May 16, 2018

The tug-of-war between Asia’s two financial superpowers is finally over. Outbidding its Indian rival, a Chinese consortium, comprising of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE), has snatched a 25% share of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), the largest in Bangladesh. The two countries signed the agreement in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, yesterday. Under the agreement, the Chinese consortium will buy each share at BDT (Bangladeshi Taka) 21, or $0.25, totaling some $125 million for the one-fourth stake which values at $53 million. Previously, China offered BDT 22 per share, but lowered its bidding price because the DSE paid out a 10% dividend in 2017. In addition, the Chinese have also agreed to offer $37 million in technical assistance. Their proposal includes developing an SME (small and medium enterprises) market in Bangladesh. In association with its Chinese partners, the DSE aims to diversify its product offerings. In addition, both stakeholders plan to launch the ELITE V-Next alliance program in Bangladesh. Click here to read...

CHINA
Xi stresses centralized, unified leadership of CPC Central Committee over foreign affairs: People’s Daily
May 16, 2018

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on Tuesday called for enhancing the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee over foreign affairs and opening up new prospects of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Xi, also Chinese president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and head of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks when presiding over the first meeting of the Foreign Affairs Commission. Click here to read...

Xi Jinping says ‘China can come out trade war in better shape than US’: South China Morning Post
May 16, 2018

President Xi Jinping has told the British ambassador to China that the Communist Party has “the levers and the country had the resilience” to come out of a trade war in better shape than the United States. Click here to read...

China enhances business environment to entice foreign capital: People’s Daily
May 15, 2018

A good business environment is like fresh air, that no foreign investor can resist. China, with its sincerity and ongoing efforts, offers foreign investors such air, trying to make its business environment attractive to foreign capital. China used to rely on favorable policies to attract foreign investment, but is now working to increase its soft power. Click here to read...

CASS: China’s economy to grow 6.7% in 2018: People’s Daily
May 15, 2018

A recent report issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) forecast a 6.7 percent growth to the Chinese economy in 2018, saying there would be no “hard landing”. Issued in Beijing on Monday, the report said that China’s economy will remain stable with relatively fast growth, optimized economic structure and steady progress of employment. Click here to read...

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