Hanoi, January 12 (MTI) – Hungary has a vested interest in forging stronger ties with Vietnam, which is one of the engines of economic growth in Southeast Asia, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Hanoi on Tuesday.
Vietnam’s economy grew by more than 7 percent last year, the minister told MTI over the phone, during his visit to the Vietnamese capital.
Hungary signed an agreement with Vietnam on Hungarian companies building a 60 million euro oncology hospital with 500 beds, Szijjarto said. The funding will come in the form of tied aid, he said. Several Vietnamese regions have indicated their readiness for similar cooperation projects with tied-aid financing, so talks started on a 500 million dollar credit line to this end. Vietnam will soon choose the projects to implement, among them one to build a water treatment facility on the Red River in Hanoi with the help of Hungarian companies and another to set up a national population registry.
Trade between Hungary and Vietnam grew by more than 10 percent last year to some 150 million euros, Szijjarto said, adding that growth is expected especially in three areas: pharmaceuticals, vehicle industry and agricultural exports. He said Hungary’s drug maker Richter has been present in Vietnam for several decades, and it could benefit from a recent change in Vietnamese legislation. Procedures for receiving permits to start Hungarian fruit exports to Vietnam are also under way, he said.
An education agreement was signed to raise the number of scholarships for Vietnamese students in Hungary to 100, Szijjarto said. So far altogether 3,000 Vietnamese students received their degree in Hungary and there are currently 376 students enrolled in higher education here. In addition, another 100-150 nuclear engineers could receive training in Hungary this year.
Hanoi and Budapest would like to see cooperation between their countries become one of the main pillars of cooperation between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said.
In response to a question on the progress of Hungary’s eastern opening strategy, Szijjarto said the strategy was going ahead full steam, but it entered a new phase in which the state had already opened doors for companies to now step in and take advantage of actual business opportunities, boost sales to Vietnam and bring investments to Hungary.