The Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) organized one day Seminar titled Pakistan- Romania Economic Relations: A way Forward on June 27, 2014, in collaboration with Pakistan Romania Friendship Association (PRFA) and Romanian Embassy at Islamabad Club. Mr. Iqbal Tabish, Secretary General SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry, was the guest speaker.
Mr Zafar Bakhtawri, Secretary General PRFA, in his welcome remarks highlighted the main agenda of the seminar. He said that Romania’s strategic location is very important for Pakistan as it could become a gateway to the whole Europe. He pointed that Pakistan could boost its exports to Romania by exporting goods of agriculture, livestock and textile sectors while Romania could increase investment especially in hydal power as the country was undergoing energy crisis. Mr. Emillon Ion, Ambassador of Romania in Pakistan, speaking on the subject said that Pakistan and Romania are the most important Countries in Asia and Eastern Europe respectively and Romania had the highest growth rate in Europe and it was emerging as economic tiger of the Eastern Europe. The trade volume between Pakistan and Romania recorded at the end of 2014 was $200 million. He said that the two countries had huge potential in different trade and investment sectors, including agriculture, information technology, energy, housing, industries, engineering and construction. He identified that there are around 3000 Pakistani businessmen in Romania who are further strengthening ties between these two brotherly countries and around 700 Pakistani companies are operating in Romania. He expressed hope that Pakistan could improve its exports to Europe especially in Romania after receiving the status of Generalised Preferences System (GSP) plus status.
Guest speaker Mr. Iqbal Tabish, Secretary General of SCCI said that Pak-Romania trade relations began in 1964. And in spite of immense potential for increase and signing avoidance of double taxation agreement, the bilateral trade is still quite small in volume. In 2009 total trade was estimated $ 54 million, which reached to US $ 110 million in 2013. This reflects 20% increase per annum but still does not reflect the existing potential. The reason for this according to Mr. Tabish was trading in limited number of items, fewer complementarities because of non-availability of information to be convertible into business relations, less B-2-B connectivity as business starts when business people start meeting, no Preferential Trade Agreement or FTA, less sociocultural interactions and insignificant attention towards cooperation in services. He suggested a way forward for boosting economic activities in the two countries and stressed the need for bilateral Investment treaty, mechanism for circulation of business promotion activities on reciprocal basis, frequent exchange of business exploring missions, single country exhibitions and he urged the Romanian government to help Pakistan in brand development especially of sports goods and pharmaceutical and in improving Human Development Index.
Chief Guest on the occasion Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said that the current Pak-Romania trade volume is quite low and the governments of the two nations must take steps in facilitating the business community to exploit the huge potential in agriculture, energy, engineering, industries, services sector, livestock, textiles and construction.
Ms. Sabah Aslam, the Executive Director IICR, while concluding the session, said that it has been a short but focused deliberative practice to make a historic beginning in the pursuit of Pakistan-Romania economic cooperation and urged the business community to come forward and play a substantial role in strengthening bilateral trade relations of the two friendly nations.