PAKISTAN and Romania have historical relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1964. The two countries have longstanding cooperation in political, economic, cultural and scientific fields with bilateral trade valued at around $100 million per year. Romania is a middle sized European country. It has a developing economy and is among the fastest growing economies in the European Union (EU) for two consecutive years.
Romania has the seventh largest market in the EU. Romania has expertise in mining, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, cement production, alternate energy sources, information technology (IT), manufacturing of helicopters and defence industry. Pakistan should co-operate in these sectors with Romania and should have joint economic ventures and development projects.
The Honorary Consulates, Business Council and Friends of Romania group had been established to foster mutual economic ties. Romania is interested to establish a Pak-Romania Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Pakistani companies are widely encouraged to invest in Romania. Pakistan-Romania Business Council is playing an active role in facilitation of trade and investments between the two countries. Pakistan should also explore Romania’s large reserves of oil and metals such as gold and silver. There is a need for regular exchange of economic information and economic symposium between two countries.
The participation of Romania in the CPEC can also bring Pakistan and Romania close together by creating business and trade opportunities. Romania is exploring the prospects of benefitting from the CPEC project. Pakistan needs to project CPEC by inviting Romanian companies to invest and participate in the CPEC. Romania wants to enhance relations with Pakistan in the fields of sports, agriculture and culture. In January 2017, Pakistan and Romania have agreed to bolster delegation level exchanges to strengthen the already existing bilateral ties. There is a wide scope for co-operation in the field of sports and both countries can learn and benefit from sharing of experiences and best practices in the respective field. In the field of defence, both the countries have different agreements in defence production and relevant areas. Currently, Pakistan and Romania are negotiating an agreement on defence industries which, if finalised, would serve as a framework for cooperation in the defence sector. Both the countries are looking forward for enhancing Military Technical Co-operation and for increasing joint collaboration in the field of defence production.
Pakistan and Romania share cordial relations which can be cemented by regular exchange of high-level visits from both sides. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s stopover at Bucharest in Dec 2016 has proved helpful in strengthening the relations between the two countries. The visit produced an extremely dynamic, pragmatic and result-oriented political dialogue between the political leadership. Romania considers Pakistan as a responsible member of international community and applauds Pakistan’s efforts in fight against terrorism and for the maintenance of regional peace. Pakistan and Romania also share same views on contemporary issues and on regional affairs. Unfortunately, Pak-Romania relations are victim of trust deficit and misperceptions. This gap can be overcome through increased political and cultural interactions between the two states.
Pakistan-Romania bilateral relations are based on mutual trust and convergence of interests. The issues of language barrier and visa regimes should be addressed to encourage cultural links and tourism between two countries. There is a need to have more people to people contacts through exchange of scholars, technical labour force and media persons to improve relations between two countries.
— The writer is Assistant Research Officer at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.