ISLAMABAD: As Romania works to expand its relationship with Pakistan in economic and defence sectors, it is also exploring the prospects of benefitting from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. While delivering a lecture at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) – an Islamabad-based think tank – Romanian Ambassador to Pakistan said: “We are trying to understand how Romania can become part of it [CPEC].” Romania has been the fastest growing economy of the European Union (EU) for the second consecutive year, and is the seventh largest market in the EU. Pakistan and Romania have longstanding cooperation in political, economic, cultural and scientific fields. The bilateral trade is valued at $80-100 million per annum. Recalling Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s stopover in Bucharest last December, the envoy noted a mutual desire to deepen relations, which were based on mutual trust. He said the two countries have had an “extremely dynamic political dialogue”, which was “result oriented” and grounded in “pragmatism”. The ambassador said promoting trade and economic relations and defence ties were high on his agenda. He said Pakistan and Romania were negotiating an agreement on defence industries. He believed that the agreement, once finalised, would serve as a frame work for cooperation in defence sector. Moreover, he said that efforts were on to revitalise the Pak-Romania Joint Business Council. He said that he was trying to establish a Pak-Romania Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The ambassador said Romania had extensive experience of working in Pakistan, and had been associated with a tractor-assembling project, and setting up of a refinery in the past. He said Pakistan was a victim of “deficit of understanding” and misperceptions. “Pakistan is not the way it is described. There is an extremely friendly environment here, and people are competent and friendly. Pakistan is also a responsible member of international community.” He was very appreciative of Pakistani culture and values. SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema expressed satisfaction over the trajectory of the relationship between the two countries, and expected that they would strengthen in future. He stressed the need for exploring new avenues of cooperation between the two countries, and better exploitation of trade and investment potential.