Focus Neighbourhood: Chinese envoy explores future of Pakistan-China strategic collaboration

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ANANTA ASPEN CENTRE

ANANTA ASPEN CENTRE

Chinese envoy explores future of Pakistan-China strategic collaboration

The Express Tribune | 13thMay

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong elucidated on the concept of “new quality productive forces” and its implications for the transformative collaboration between China and Pakistan.

According to Ambassador Zaidong, this concept, introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2023, underscores the fusion of innovation, technology, and industry to drive sustainable development and prosperity.

At its core, the vision recognises innovation as the catalyst for progress in the 21st century.

 

 40,000 children left homeless in Baghlan due to devastating floods: Save the Children

The Khaama Press | 14th May

Save the Children has expressed concern over the devastating consequences of floods in Baghlan province, stating that approximately 40,000 children in this province have lost their homes.

According to a statement released on Monday, May 13, the organization announced the launch of health clinics staffed by female and male specialists to assist the affected in Baghlan province.

Arshad Malik, the head of Save the Children, emphasized that children in Baghlan province have lost everything.

 

Donald Lu in Dhaka to strengthen bilateral cooperation

Dhaka Tribune | 14th May

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday to “strengthen bilateral cooperation” and to demonstrate US support for a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

In Bangladesh, he will meet with government officials, civil society leaders, and other Bangladeshis to talk about deepening Bangladesh-US cooperation, including deepening the economic ties in ways that the two countries can collaborate further to address climate issues, said Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the US Department of State Vedant Patel.

 

PAKISTAN 

 

Govt unveils broader privatisation plan for state-owned enterprises

Dawn | 14th May

Pakistan will privatise all state-owned enterprises, with the exception of strategic entities, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced on Tuesday, broadening its initial plans to take only loss-making state firms private.

The announcement came after PM Shehbaz headed a meeting on the privatisation process of loss-making state enterprises, according to a statement from his office.

According to state-run Radio Pakistan, the premier said that the government’s job is not to do business but to ensure a business and investment friendly environment.

 

Mainly hot and dry weather expected in most parts of country

The Nation | 14th May

Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has predicted mainly hot and dry weather for most parts of the country during the next 24 hours.

According to PMD, the day temperatures are likely to rise gradually in southern areas. As per the synoptic situation, continental air was prevailing over most parts of the country.

During the last 24 hours, hot and dry weather prevailed in most parts of the country. However, rain-windstorm/thunderstorm occurred in upper Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir, Potohar region, and Gilgit Baltistan.

 

 

SRI LANKA

 

Health experts raise red flags over soaring influenza cases

Daily Mirror | 14th May

In the wake of the rising influenza cases at an unusual rate, health experts are urging the public to beware of symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

Speaking to Daily Mirror, Dr. Deepal Perera, a Paediatrician at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital in Colombo said, it’s vastly prevalent among children and thus the parents are advised to keep a close watch on their children.

“There are usually two peaks of influenza namely November to February and April to July,” he stated.

 

Global automakers increase assembly operations in Sri Lanka

The Island | 11th May

Sri Lanka’s automobile assembly is experiencing significant growth and development with the involvement of world-renowned brands including Hyundai, Proton, BAIC, DFSK, Wuling, Mahindra, TATA, Bajaj, TVS, JMC and Lanka Ashok Leyland emphasizing the favourable environment for investment.

The approval to assemble a wide range of vehicles including SUVs, Cars, Two-Wheelers, Double-cabs, Trucks and Buses has paved the way for a diversified automobile assembly industry in the country catering to various consumer needs. 

 

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

UNAMA Head Discusses Upcoming Doha Meeting with Iranian Dep. FM

TOLO News | 13th May

Roza Otunbayeva, the head of UNAMA, and Ali Bagheri, the deputy foreign minister of Iran, discussed the upcoming Doha meeting on Afghanistan.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry, quoting Roza Otunbayeva, in a statement wrote that the United Nations Secretary-General’s special representative in Afghanistan emphasized the need to coordinate global stances to establish stability in Afghanistan and also called for Iran’s engagement with the interim Afghan government.

According to the statement, Iran’s political deputy in the foreign ministry also said that the United Nations’ priority in Afghanistan should be securing the interests of the people and ensuring safety, peace, and stability in Afghanistan.

 

UNICEF: $6.9 million Japanese donation for Afghanistan vaccinations

The Khaama Press | 14th May

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that it will provide $6.9 million to support vaccination services in Afghanistan.

This agency stated on Tuesday, May 14, that these funds will be provided in cooperation with international organizations (JAICA) to meet the immediate needs and rights of children and women in Afghanistan.

According to the UNICEF announcement, with the new financial aid from Japan, 4.1 million children and women will be vaccinated against various diseases, including measles, tuberculosis, polio, yellow fever, and tetanus, through the implementation of routine vaccination services.

 

 

BANGLADESH

 

Bangladesh, Ireland hold first ever foreign office consultations

Prothom Alo | 14th May

Bangladesh and Ireland held their first-ever foreign office consultations (FOC) at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on Monday.

The two countries also signed the first memorandum of understanding (MoU) on biennial consultations between the foreign ministries of Bangladesh and Ireland, said a media release issued by the Bangladesh High Commission in the UK.

Foreign secretary ambassador Masud Bin Momen led the Bangladesh delegation while his Irish counterpart secretary-general Joseph Hackett led the Ireland delegation.

 

Tk8 lakh cr budget for new fiscal gets PM’s nod

Bangladesh Post | 14th May

The size of the next national budget of Bangladesh, for the fiscal year 2024-25, will be Tk8 lakh crore.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the Tk 8 lakh crore budget when it was placed before her. The budget is scheduled to be presented in the parliament on June 6, sources of the Finance Ministry confirmed on Tuesday.

She gave an opinion in favor of discouraging the import of luxury goods in the next budget as well. Like the current fiscal year, the prime minister said that inflation control will be the top priority of the next budget.

 

 

BHUTAN

 

Tax reform vital for Bhutan’s economic growth

Kuensel | 15th May

The country is grappling with significant challenges in its tax policy, tax administration system, and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure.

These weaknesses impede the establishment of an efficient taxation system and the provision of improved tax services to the citizens.

According to the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) records, Bhutan presently counts 116,000 taxpayers, including corporate, business, and personal income taxpayers. The current tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is approximately 13 percent.

 

World Bank Reports Strong Recovery of Bhutan’s Economy Post-COVID19

Business Bhutan | 14th May

According to two recent World Bank reports, Bhutan’s economy is exhibiting strong signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bhutan Development Update from April 2024 projects a robust 4.6% real GDP growth for FY22/23, spurred by resurgence in tourism. This follows a contraction over two consecutive years. Growth is anticipated to further accelerate to 4.9% in FY23/24.

Abdoulaye Seck, the World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, commented, “To sustain strong and inclusive growth, Bhutan could enhance its business environment to attract more foreign direct investments and promote the private sector, thereby creating desirable job opportunities for its citizens. 

 

BRCS empowers youth leaders to combat climate change

Kuensel | 15th May

The Bhutan Red Cross Society’s (BRCS) Y-Adapt climate change training programme provided over 100 young volunteers from five colleges of the Royal University of Bhutan with the necessary knowledge and skills to tackle climate-related issues within their communities.

Y-Adapt or Youth Adapt is an interactive, games-based curriculum, through knowledge sharing, engaging local communities, and inspires youth to act in their communities to adapt to climate change.

 

 

MALDIVES

 

Maldives calls on UN Security Council to reconsider admission of Palestine

The Edition | 15th May

The Maldives yesterday called on the United Nation’s Security Council to reconsider the admission of Palestine as a full member state in line with the resolution “Admission of New Member States to the United Nations”, which was adopted by the General Assembly on Friday.

During the tenth Emergency Special Session, Maldives delivered a statement noting that the overwhelming support for the Resolution sent a strong message to the Security Council.

Maldives further called on United Nations member states to act with urgency to stop the ongoing suffering in Palestine, and make Israel comply with its obligations under international law and international humanitarian law.

 

Maldives named ITB China 2024’s official partner destination

Sun | 15th May

Maldives has been named as the Official Partner Destination of ITB China 2024.

ITB China 2024 will be held in Shanghai from May 27th to May 29th. Maldives will showcase its offerings ITB China’s largest national pavilion with more than 40 travel companies as co-exhibitors during the three-day B2B event.

The aim of the partnership is to attract more Chinese tourists – which currently stands as the top tourist market to the Maldives – and to put the island destination in the spotlight of China’s outbound travel market, as reported by Travel Trade Maldives (TTM).

 

Indian gov’t extends budget support to Maldives

Raajje | 13th May

The government of India has provided a budget support of USD 50 million to the government of Maldives.

This was revealed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

In a statement issued on Monday, the ministry revealed that the support was in the form of a rollover of USD 50 million treasury bill for an additional year, through the State Bank of India (SBI) in capital Malé City from May 13.

India’s decision to rollover the T-Bill came following a request made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer, to the External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar as part of his recent official bilateral visit to the neighboring country from May 8 – 10.

 

 

MYANMAR

 

Japanese Envoy Meets Myanmar’s Ethnic Armed Organizations

The Irrawaddy | 14th May

Senior Japanese envoy Masahiro Komura met representatives from Myanmar’s ethnic armed organizations on Tuesday, according to Tokyo.

The participants and location were not revealed.

A picture showed Komura with Karen National Union (KNU) president Padoh Kwe Htoo Win and Khu Oo Reh, head of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) who also represented the Karenni revolutionary government.

Komura, a parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs and vice-president of the Liberal Democratic Party, discussed Myanmar’s crisis and told the meeting that Japan was willing to hold talks to resolve the issue, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

No Contact: How Myanmar’s Junta Isolated Daw Aung San Suu Kyi From the World

The Irrawaddy | 10th May

Myanmar’s junta reinforced its policy of isolating detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday by denying a meeting request from former Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen, now head of Cambodia’s Senate, said he had asked to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been jailed since 2021, during video talks with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing on Tuesday.

In response, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said there was “no reason to facilitate [the meeting] at this time,” adding: “We will avoid issues which may delay or disrupt future processes.”

 

 

NEPAL

 

Korea supports USD9.8 million to create jobs through recycling and upcycling projects

The Kathmandu Post | 14th May

Nepal and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday to create jobs through recycling and upcycling projects in Pokhara.

The MoU was signed by Korean Ambassador to Nepal Taeyoung Park and Finance Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini.

As per the MoU, the Korean government, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency, will spend USD9.8 million on the project. The United Nations Development Programme will implement it in collaboration with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and Pokhara Metropolitan City.

 

Issues with India need to be resolved through dialogue, diplomacy: FM Shrestha

The Himalayan Times | 15th May

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that Nepal and India being close neighbours have built an longstanding history of mutual friendship and cooperation. The salient features of Nepal-India ties include geographical proximity; religious, cultural and linguistic relations; economic engagement and intensely flourished people-to-people relations, the minister noted.In his closing remarks at the third series of lectures launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in honour of former Ambassador and former Foreign Secretary Prof Yadunath Khanal on Tuesday evening, he said Nepal-India relations are nurtured by nature, bound by cultural affinity, comprehensive, multi-dimensional and incomparable.

 

1000 youths will be given ‘startup business’ loan

Onlinekhabar | 14th May

The government will provide ‘startup business’ subsidised loans to 1,000 youths in the next fiscal year (FY) 2024/25.

President Ramchandra Paudel announced this while presenting the policy and programme for the coming year. He also said there will be collaboration with the academic and private sectors for innovation.

He also announced that business incubation centres will be established in all seven provinces and promoted. He also said that the entrepreneurship of the youth who returned from foreign employment will be developed.

 

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