National and global interests need to be harmonised in order to restore political and social support for international free trade agreements, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday during a break at the OECD ministerial council meeting in Paris.
It is in Hungary’s interests that the trust in free trade agreements is restored, because growing support will improve the global trade expansion rate, he said.
He added, however, that “global interests are a sum of national interests … and national interests must not be suppressed even in international trade.” In Hungary’s case, this applies to some issues concerning agriculture and industry, he said.
Szijjártó chairs a work group at the meeting which focuses on the role of international economic organisations in the introduction of labour and environmental standards, ensuring that responsible business practices are respected and encouraging the fight against international corruption and illegal trading.
He noted that external factors such as foreign investment play a serious role in an open economy such as Hungary’s, where the ratio of exports to GDP are above 90 percent. This makes the country particularly dependent on world trade growth after the past two years’ recession, Szijjártó said.
In order to achieve this, OECD needs to lead the way in four areas, Szijjártó said. In addition to restoring support for free trade agreements, efforts need to be made to maintain a balance between environmental protection and competitiveness, to support small and medium sized enterprises and to fight illegal trading.
“International discrimination of nuclear energy needs to be prevented and energy utilisation needs to stay a national competence”, Szijjártó said.
Since SMEs represent the backbone of the national economy, efforts need to be made to ensure that these companies are increasingly involved in the supply chain for large multinational companies. With this in mind, support for SMEs is one of the most important elements of the Hungarian government’s economic policy, he added. Multinationals employ 25 percent of Hungarian workforce while generating 60 percent of GDP, he said.
The fight against illegal trading is a major task because it can damage outlooks for countries that have an open economy, Szijjártó said.
“It is a special interest for Hungary that determined international cooperation, making no exceptions, is developed against illegal trading,” he added.
Szijjártó said Hungary supports and will gladly join a Dutch initiative to strengthen open economies and inclusive societies which was set up at the OECD ministerial council meeting on Thursday.
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs