Budapest, March 28 (MTI) – Three Hungarian companies have been given the go-ahead to export meat to the Philippines, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said at a business forum in Manila on Tuesday.
The minister called agriculture a key area of economic cooperation between the two countries, adding that the start of meat exports would give a big boost to Hungarian farm exports to the Philippines.
He noted that bilateral trade turnover was worth 200 million US dollars last year. “This is not a small amount but there is room to grow,” Szijjártó said. Hungary and the Philippines have signed a bilateral economic cooperation agreement and Hungary’s Eximbank will provide a 510 million euro credit line in support of cooperation between companies of the two countries.
Szijjártó insisted that Hungary has the strictest food safety rules in Europe and he noted that its constitution guarantees GMO-free farming.
Besides agriculture, the minister mentioned research-driven IT sector development and water management as other potential areas for cooperation.
Szijjártó said that thanks to Hungary’s “brave decisions”, it had created the most attractive and competitive investment environment in Europe, with the lowest corporation tax, set at 9 percent, and a 15 percent income tax, as well as rules aimed at maximising labour market flexibility and a German-style vocational training system.
He said the business environment in Hungary is “very predictable” and the government is unique in the world for passing the following year’s budget during the summer term.
“It is hardly surprising that in 2016 Hungary’s foreign trade activities beat every previous record, and never before had there been exports on such a scale or a bigger trade surplus,” he said.
Szijjártó reopened Hungary’s embassy in Manila, saying that there were three reasons for doing so: to rectify closure of the mission 22 years ago, to express thanks to the Philippines and to open a new chapter in bilateral ties.
The minister noted that the president of the Philippines had been on the receiving end of sharp criticism from international human rights groups. He said Hungary would not comment, and it was not its business to weigh in on the internal affairs of the country.
“The citizens of the Philippines must decide on their local, internal affairs. We’ve come here to cooperate, not to interfere,” he added.