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Hungary’s foreign minister: Europe must seize One Belt, One Road opportunities

Hungary’s foreign minister: Europe must seize One Belt, One Road opportunities

“The Chinese President’s One Belt, One Road strategy represents a major opportunity for Europe, which the continent must exploit”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told public media on Sunday at the One Belt, One Road international forum in Beijing.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is also attending the meeting, which began on Sunday morning local time with the participation of 28 heads of state and government.

In his statement, Mr. Szijjártó stressed:

“The One Belt, One Road strategy is creating the infrastructure for Eurasian cooperation”.

“In view of the fact that the competitiveness of the European Union is continuously decreasing, it needs strategies that enable the halting of this process and the regaining of competitiveness”, said the Minister, according to whom “the closest possible relations must be maintained with the world’s most rapidly developing region, the Asian and Southeast Asian region”.

“We must recognise that the situation is no longer that capital flows exclusively from West to East in search of cheap labour, because these days large Asian corporations have become extremely successful on the European market and are buying up increasing numbers of European enterprises”, he explained, highlighting the fact that “Europe and Hungary must exploit this process and attract as many Asian and Southeast Asian companies as possible that represent high added value and apply state-of-the-art technologies”.

“We must realise all of the transport, energy and infrastructure development projects that serve to improve the future economic strength of Hungary and the EU made possible by the One Belt, One Road program and the Eastern Opening strategy”, Mr. Szijjártó declared.

The Minister indicated three concrete goals with relation to the One Belt, One Road strategy: firstly, that as many highly developed Hungarian technologies should be applied in the huge development projects that are being realised in this part of Asia, primarily within the fields of water management, city management and IT. “In addition, the Government would like as many infrastructure development projects and Asia-Europe routes as possible to reach Europe via Hungary, which would also lead to an increase in export opportunities for Hungarian products to Asia. The third goal is for Hungary to be the destination for a significant proportion of the Chinese investments being made in Europe within the framework of the One Belt, One Road strategy, a goal which is being outstandingly served by the tax cuts introduced in recent years, the tax benefits for research & development and the Digital Hungary Programme, Mr. Szijjártó explained.

In Beijing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade held talks with the Serbian Minister of Infrastructure, who informed him that negotiations on the Serbian-Chinese financial agreement concerning the Budapest-Belgrade railway line are also progressing well, meaning there is a realistic chance that Hungary and Serbia will be able to work on the construction project according to a roughly similar schedule.

Mr. Szijjártó also met with Slovenia’s Minister for Economy to discuss Hungary’s involvement in the development of the Port of Koper and its connecting railway line, which is the port of choice for Hungarian exporters.

Minister Jure Leben and Foreign minister Péter Szijjártó

While in the Chinese capital, the Hungarian Minister will also be meeting the directors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to discuss the involvement of Hungarian technologies in Asian infrastructure development projects, and with the directors of several Chinese companies, with whom he will be discussing “further Chinese investments made possible by the new and extremely favourable Hungarian tax environment”. In addition, he will also be holding talks with the Foreign Ministers of the Maldives and Pakistan, and with the Slovakian Minister of Economy.

The One Belt, One Road commercial infrastructure development strategy launched by China in 2013 is made up of two parts, the “Silk Road Economic Belt Programme” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road Programme”. The Initiative encompasses regions that include sixty percent of the world’s population and one third of global production. China has spent over 50 billion dollars on commercial development projects since 2013 in countries that have joined the Belt and Road Initiative.

The international forum in Beijing, which in addition to the host, President of China Xi Jinping, is also being attended by Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, is the most prestigious international event held since the initiative was launched in 2013.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi/Prime Minister’s Press Office

Source: Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI

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