Build Asia: $150M deals with China, Saudi PVC producer eyes presence in Pakistan

Products of Dammam-based Salem Balhamer group are displayed at the 15th Build Asia exhibition in Karachi on Dec. 16, 2019. (AN photo)
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Updated 17 December 2019

Build Asia: $150M deals with China, Saudi PVC producer eyes presence in Pakistan

  • Pakistani and Chinese companies signed agreements worth $150 million during the exhibition, organizers say
  • Saudi PVC producers seek entry and presence in the Pakistan market

KARACHI: Deals worth $150 million with China were signed, while a Saudi PVC producer announced plans to open a facility in Pakistan during the 15th Build Asia exhibition in Karachi on Dec. 14-16.
The exhibition showcased products from 17 countries in the sectors of heavy machinery, steel, cement, PVC, timber, tiles, glass, hardware and tools, elevators, prefabricated buildings, marble cutting machinery, marble products, and other allied construction and building materials.
Organizers of the international building materials and construction machinery show said contracts and memoranda of understanding (MoU) worth $150 million were signed during the exhibition. “The MoUs were signed between Pakistani and Chinese companies, who want to set up or relocate industrial units in Pakistan to further export construction material to the Middle East and other countries,” Khursheed Nizam, president of Ecommerce Gateway, told Arab News on Monday.




The 15th Build Asia exhibition showcased products from 17 countries in the sectors of construction and building materials in Karachi on Dec. 14-16. Photo taken on Dec. 16, 2019. (AN photo)

Saudi Arabia was visible with PVC pipe producers such as Dammam-based FABCO Plastic Factory belonging to the Salem Balhamer group, which announced plans to set up a manufacturing facility in Pakistan to benefit from its market size and growing demand, Waleed Kadry Ahmed, marketing manager of Salem Balhamer Holding, told Arab News.
“We have come to Pakistan to showcase our products and find distributors. In the future, we plan to open a factory here. At present, we are looking for distributors. The city (of Karachi) is good and we found it good for business,” he said.
Another Saudi producer also highlighted Pakistan’s demand for PVC pipes. “There is a huge demand for this product. For each road, building and any other construction they need pipes ... It is like a daily need,” Khaled Ghazi, export manager at Riyadh-based Almunif Pipes, told Arab News.




Khaled Ghazi, export manager of Riyadh-based Almunif Pipes,  shows products to visitors at the 15th Build Asia & CPEC Construction Expo 2019 in Karachi on Dec. 16, 2019. (AN photo)

“We know many companies in Pakistan are also manufacturing these products, but we think as a supplier of raw material to industries our prices are very competitive and our quality superior to our competitors,” he said, adding that the company, which exports its products to 21 countries, is looking for agents and distributors in Pakistan.
The exhibition was attended by more than 150 companies, mostly from China. “Three hundred Chinese delegates attended the exhibition and conference, and double booked the space for next year’s event. The event has further strengthened the objectives of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC,” Nizam said.
China was the country partner of this year’s Build Asia.


Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

Updated 29 November 2020

Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

  • PSM management argues the company’s accumulated losses reached Rs212 billion ($1.33 billion) in June
  • The termination of 4,500 contracts is believed to be the biggest layoff from a single entity in Pakistan’s history

KARACHI: Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) employees are going to challenge in court the company’s recent decision to terminate the contracts of thousands of workers, union representatives said on Sunday.

The management of the state-owned company on Friday handed letters of termination to some 4,500 employees, arguing that PSM’s accumulated losses had reached Rs212 billion ($1.33 billion) in June, when the government decided that 9,350 workers would have to be fired for the dysfunctional enterprise to be revived.
“PSM has terminated 4,500 employees in the first phase of government’s plan to lay off 9,350 employees ... The employees have refused to accept this termination they have registered protests and have decided to challenge this decision in court next week,” Mirza Maqsood, President of Voice of Pakistan Steel Officers Association, told Arab News.

Located 40 kilometers from Karachi, Pakistan’s largest industrial complex with a steel production capacity of 1.1 million tons has been dysfunctional for the past few years. Its operations were suspended in 2015.
“Neither the Company has funds to revive the Mills nor are funds available from any other source to revive the Steel Mill. In any case, revival of the mill would require, firstly massive investment and secondly, entail a period of at least two years,” reads a PSM termination letter seen by Arab News.
The layoff was defended by federal Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar, who on Saturday said the terminated employees would be given compensation of Rs2.3 million on average.

“Since the closure of the mill, the government has paid around Rs35 billion as salaries and Rs20 billion as arears to the employees,” he said.

The discharge of workers is said to be one of the biggest layoffs of employees from a single government entity in the country’s history. 
 Karamat Ali, executive director at Pakistan Institute of Labor Education & Research (PILER), said the PSM layoff in unprecedented.
“No such number of employees have ever been fired from a single government institution,” he said.
The decision was also opposed by the provincial government of Sindh, which vowed to support the affected employees. 
“This is wrong and injustice. They (the federal government) must adhere to their earlier stance and commitments of turning the state institutions around with the help of their champions. I am with the employees,” Sindh Labor Minister Saeed Ghani told Arab News.
Mumrez Khan, convener of a representative body of employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers and contractors of PSM, said that no serious efforts have been made by the federal government to revive the mill, claiming that negligence had caused losses even higher than those cited by PSM management.

“The accumulated losses have swelled to $12 billion on the account of closure of plants, revenue to the government and imports of steel products,” he said.