Pakistan and Romania have enjoyed good friendly relations. However, the economic and trade component of these relations has a great potential for enhancement.
In 2019-2020, bilateral trade with Romania was around $46 million. Out of this, Pakistan’s exports to Romania amounted to some $28 million.
In reply to a query by ProPakistani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Romania & Moldova, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, said, “During the current financial year, Pakistani exports to Romania recorded 30 percent increase (year-on-year) during first 8 months, which is an encouraging sign. This is despite the impact of the pandemic, which led to shrinkage of Romanian import market (by 5 percent) in 2020.”
Since his posting as the ambassador in July 2020, the Embassy of Pakistan in Bucharest has launched an awareness and information campaign among the Romanian business community about Pakistan’s export potential, he added.
The senior diplomat told that the Embassy has been focusing, inter alia, on establishing a direct interface between Romanian and Pakistani business communities, promoting linkages between different chambers of the two countries, providing information on Pakistan’s export market to Romanian business entities, sharing details of Romanian companies involved in different business activities with the relevant Pakistani entities, and expediting services for Romanian business delegates traveling to Pakistan.
The Embassy is promoting Pakistan as a cost-effective source of replenishing inventories for Romanian importers. It approaches and contacts the firms and importers through local chambers of commerce and industry and directly on a one-on-one basis.
In addition, Dr. Zafar Iqbal said that IT and social media tools are employed to make the local market aware of important Pakistani trade-related events and news, and any queries received from companies are responded to expeditiously.
According to obtained details, the Ambassador has visited eight regions of the country in as many months to interact with the business community and chambers of commerce.
Two months ago, in February 2021, the first-ever Pak-Romania Business Forum was organized (online). It was attended by 28 notable Romanian companies operating in various trade sectors. The Forum included B2B sessions between companies.
Earlier, in November 2020, Business Day events were arranged in Lasi and Vaslui regions. Meanwhile, in the same year and month, the Embassy conducted a detailed study of the Romanian market and prepared a detailed document, which was shared with all chambers of commerce and industry and Pakistani exporters associations to make our exporters aware of the kind of items that have more potential for export to the Romanian market.
The ambassador said that this all enhanced awareness about Pakistan among the Romanian business firms and vice-versa helps in making informed business decisions and will lead to a sustainable improvement in bilateral trade.
The Embassy is also in the process of establishing a dedicated export exhibition hall within its premises, with the help of Pakistani chambers and exporters. The hall would showcase Pakistani exportable commodities. This will enable Romanian business entities to have a direct look at some of the export items Pakistan offers.
Pakistani exporters can increase their exports as apparel, home textiles, cotton, rice, and leather products have significant unexploited export potential in Romania.
In addition, there is a possibility to export machine tools, sewing machines, surgical items, fans, plastic items, copper and zinc articles, mineral fuels and waxes, footwear, cutlery items, tobacco, fish, spices, vegetables, and fruits, especially mangoes and dates.
Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007 and enjoys the benefits of the European Single Market, through which goods and services flow without any barriers among 27 EU and 04 European countries. On the regulatory side, Romania has to ensure EU standards for goods and services for environmental protection and human health.
Trade and market access is primarily an EU subject, and Pakistan is a beneficiary of the EU’s GSP Plus Scheme, which provides zero duties on two-thirds of tariff lines. Pakistani exports thus can avail preferential treatment if they meet EU standards.
Pakistani companies can also establish joint trading companies with Romanian counterparts and penetrate not only the Romanian market but also enter the markets in Eastern Europe.
Here, Pakistani trade promotion organizations and the exporter community need to appreciate that markets today are free and globalized. Governments have little or no influence in deciding the source of products imported by the private sector of any market. The core decisions of sourcing inventories in a majority of countries are now purely based on the dynamics of the markets.
The Embassy (or any Government institution for that matter), in this age of globalization and free market, can act as facilitator and match-maker providing relevant assistance, services, and information/awareness. That is exactly what the Embassy of Pakistan in Romania is focusing on, and the results are encouraging, said the ambassador.