Cutting trade cooperation between the European Union and China for ideological reasons would only deepen the economic crisis, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Paris on Monday, underlining the need to maintain pragmatic relations.
Whether or not Europe can overcome the current period of serious challenges will mainly depend on whether decision-makers will be capable of “acting on the basis of common sense”, Szijjártó said after meeting OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann.
If decisions on economic policy remain ideologically driven then the world and Europe will not be able to overcome the challenges, the minister said. “Common sense is needed to put the global economic crisis behind us,” he added.
Szijjártó welcomed that the OECD and its secretary general “are one of the few organisations and leaders in the world that aren’t trapped by ideology” but instead pursue “rational and realistic economic policies based on common sense”.
He said recovery from the current crisis would depend greatly on whether or not “the ideological approach aimed at cutting cooperation between the EU and China will be successful”.
If economic and trade cooperation is cut at the initiative of western Europe or the United States, “the European economy will be in even bigger trouble, and not only will it not be able to recover, but it will fall even deeper into recession,” Szijjártó said.
Europe has a fundamental interest in maintaining pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation with China, he added.
This is also made clear by the example of Hungary, he said, arguing that the country was a meeting point for the German auto industry and Chinese electric battery manufacturers. He added that the EU’s “political decision” that all new vehicles sold in the bloc would have to be electric by 2035 meant that the continent needed enough batteries.
Of the ten largest battery manufacturers in the world, 7 are Chinese and 3 South Korean, Szijjártó said. This, he added, made it obvious that if Europe were to cut cooperation with the East, the European auto industry and its electromobility strategy would fail, jeopardising millions of jobs.
Hungary in recent years has regularly seen new investment records, Szijjártó said, adding this was critical to protecting jobs.
“The reason why we’ve been able to constantly set new investment records is because Hungary is an excellent meeting point for Eastern and Western businesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó said his meeting with Cormann had also touched on the fight against inflation, which, he added, “isn’t helped by Brussels’s sanctions”. They also discussed the potential future expansion of the OECD as well as the organisation’s upcoming report on Hungary, he said.
Szijjártó said cooperation between Hungary and the OECD was beneficial and based on mutual respect. The OECD represents the approach which says economic decisions must be based on common sense, “otherwise it will be very difficult to recover from the global economic crisis”, the minister said.
How do we attract all of this foreign investment, again? Oh. European Union grants and incentives. Not driven by a love of Hungary.