Bangkok, October 14 (MTI) – The European Union must seek closer cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Friday.
Szijjártó is attending a meeting of EU and ASEAN foreign ministers in Bangkok where the representatives of 28 EU countries and 10 Southeast Asian countries met.
The minister highlighted the importance of restarting free trade talks. Talks with Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore are in different stages and it is in Hungary’s interest that they are concluded as soon as possible, he added. This will improve Hungarian companies’ opportunities to enter the market, mainly in the areas of water management, agricultural technologies and infocommunications technologies, he said.
Hungarian companies currently generate total trade turnover of 2 billion dollars with ASEAN countries and in order to improve these companies’ positions, Eximbank has opened a 1.5 billion dollar credit line for the ten ASEAN countries, Szijjártó said.
In addition, 400 scholarships have been provided for students from ASEAN countries to study at Hungarian universities and talks will start soon to establish direct flight connections between Hungary and the region as part of a broader EU-ASEAN agreement.
Commenting on security issues, Szijjártó said both regions are affected by the fight against Islamic extremists and an agreement has been signed on security cooperation.