Budapest, October 15 (MTI) – Hungary is diversifying its trade relations to the south and east to ensure it is among the winners in the new world order taking shape, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

This world order is emerging in the wake of global challenges and regional economic integration, the minister said at the opening of the second Hungary-Latin America Forum in Budapest.

At the start of this year, Hungary launched a policy of opening to the south in order to enhance economic ties with Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean region. As a result, exports to Latin America increased by 18 percent in the first seven months of the year, he added. Trade turnover increased by 26 percent in January-July this year and exports to Paraguay grew by 130 percent, to Salvador by 93 percent and to Argentina by 84 percent , he said. Despite the achievements, there is plenty of growth potential left in trade between Hungary and the region, he added.

Exminbank opened a 1.8 billion euros allocation to finance Hungarian companies’ activities in Latin America. In addition to large companies, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are planned to play a special role, Szijjarto said.

Under the arrangements of the policy of opening to the south, Hungary has been opening and reopening embassies and consulate offices in the region. There are a total of six now in Latin America. Additionally, 256 Stipendium Hungaricum scholarships have been allocated for countries in Latin America and projects have already been started with Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Columbia and Mexico, Szijjarto said.

The two-day Hungary-Latin America Forum which started on Friday focuses on three topics: inter-governmental links and business ties in industrial and economic areas where Hungary can help Latin American countries, for instance in water, waste management and energy, as well as education and science links to mobilise students and teachers.

The forum is not open to the public and the foreign ministry declined to provide information on the number of ministers in attendance. The opening speeches were delivered by, among others, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Manuel González Sanz, Cuba’s first deputy foreign minister Antonio Luis Carricarte Corona, and Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade Oscar Stark Robledo.

Roland Schafer, Director for the Americas at the European External Action Service, said Hungary and Latin American can mutually learn from each other in economic and security policy issues.

Later in the day, Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover received delegates of the forum in Parliament. Kover said that as part of Hungary’s “southern opening” policy, it has intensified economic relations with countries that have managed to retain their political and economic stability and expand their economies.

Kover said the countries of Latin America have become politically stable over the last few decades and stronger economically, as well as expanding their foreign trade relations.

Hungary’s reopening of several foreign representative offices in the region, the various trading houses and the achievements of the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme all demonstrate that Hungary is serious about strengthening its relations with Latin American countries, Kover said.

Photo: MTI

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