Budapest, May 23 (MTI) – The Hungarian government’s policy of opening up to the East is gaining in prestige, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said at the annual general meeting of the Hungarian Foreign Trade Association on Tuesday.
Besides the aim to establish a presence in export markets, the policy’s goal is to attract capital to Hungary, the minister noted in his address to the meeting.
Speaking about Hungarian-Chinese trade ties, Szijjártó called the spread of Chinese investments in Europe an “unstoppable” process, adding that the government aimed to ensure that Hungary attracts the largest possible share of China’s investments in Europe.
Listing the accomplishments of the eastern opening strategy, Szijjártó said Hungary had been the recipient of the lion’s share of Chinese investments in central Europe, adding that the value of Chinese investments in Hungary so far exceeded 4.1 billion euros. The value of Hungary’s exports to China is the highest in central Europe and Hungary has the most permits to export food to China in the region, he said. Hungary also has the closest financial cooperation with China in the region, Szijjarto added.
He noted that at Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s recent visit to China, the two countries elevated their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, the highest rank in China’s diplomatic relations.
On another subject, Szijjártó said “the new world order under formation” was constantly reshaping the international environment. New political and economic strategies and new technologies are constantly redefining the keys to competitiveness and success, he added.
He said that the “old model” of globalisation — characterised by a flow of capital from the West to the East — was at an end and that under the “new model”, the East would become the driving force of economic growth.
Szijjártó said it was in Asia where the largest amount of money was now being accumulated, adding that the market shares of large east Asian companies were growing worldwide. He noted, as an example of this, a recent surge in Chinese acquisitions of western companies. The five largest Chinese-owned companies present in Hungary were also established through acquisition, he added.
He said that under the new model of globalisation, the enforcement of national interests and “patriotic” economies would gain importance.
Szijjártó also said that last year the United States became Hungary’s top export market outside the European Union, adding that American companies were the second most significant investors in Hungary after German ones.
Hungary’s interest lies in American companies seeing the country as a worthwhile investment destination, he said. The 1,700 US companies doing business in Hungary have invested 9 billion dollars in the country and employ 100,000 people, he noted.
Szijjártó said Hungary is a committed partner to the US in the fight against terrorism and expressed hope that parliament would approve expanding Hungary’s role in the international fight against the Islamic State militant group and increasing the number of Hungarian soldiers serving in Iraq from 150 to 200.
The minister also spoke about illegal migration, saying that it constituted an economic risk and posed a threat to the passport-free Schengen zone.
Szijjártó said Britain’s decision to leave the EU would also have a significant impact on Hungary’s economy. He called Brexit both a political and economic loss. In the divorce talks, EU institutions would have to protect the rights of EU citizens working or studying in the UK, he said, adding that talks should also aim towards the broadest possible economic, investment and free-trade deal.