EconomyForeign Affairs

Prime Ministers Of China, Hungary Agree To Further Boost Economic Cooperation

Hungary and China have strengthened their cooperation in all fields, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Budapest on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang was received by his Hungarian counterpart in the Parliament building (photo: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI)

PM Orbán: “Central and eastern Europe has an enormous development potential”

Orbán said that all European countries wish to partake in China’s enormous development. Hungary “has a good starting position” in this competition. With an annual export of 600 billion forints (USD 2.28bn), it is the biggest exporter to China from among the central and eastern European countries, and attracts the most Chinese investors, he said. For its vigorous annual growth of 6-7%, forecast for the coming years, China will need large quantities of imports, he said.

From among the agreements reached during Li’s current visit, Orbán mentioned that the Hungarian Eximbank has received a 500 million dollar credit line. BorsodChem, a chemical company in northeast Hungary, has got a 217 million dollar investment loan, while an electric bus plant in Komárom, in northern Hungary, has received a 20 million dollar loan, he said. “We have agreed that central and eastern Europe has an enormous development potential”, Orbán said. As some of our joint projects exceed the financial capacities of both Hungary and the EU, Chinese funding is essential, he said.

PM Li Keqiang: “Hungary’s excellent farm products are highly popular among Chinese consumers”

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said after talks with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán that bilateral cooperation presented mutually beneficial development opportunities for both countries. Over the past years, cooperation between China and Hungary has been moving in the right direction, he said, adding that China wanted Hungary to become an even more important destination for its investors.

Chinese-Hungarian cooperation continued to improve in recent years, with an over 10% increase in trade last year and a 20% growth in Hungary’s sales to China. Currently, bilateral trade shows a Hungarian surplus. Hungary has excellent farm products that are highly popular among Chinese consumers, Li said. He said cooperation between China and central and eastern European countries was “remarkably good” and was in line with trends in globalisation.

Li said the China-CEE “16-plus-one” summit was a success. This cooperation, based on mutual respect and serving peace and stability, can strengthen relations between China and the CEE countries and counterbalance the disadvantages caused by differences arising from the different pace of development, he added. China and central and eastern Europe can complement each other well in economic terms, he said. Li said there was no reason to fear from the negative effects of economic globalisation because the recent years have made it clear that even if globalisation poses obstacles, cooperation is a very strong tool for handling them.

Later in the day, the Chinese Prime Minister also held talks with László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly. On Wednesday morning, Li Keqiang paid a visit to the Sándor Palace in the Buda Castle to meet with János Áder, President of Hungary.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking at the first Asian Financial Cooperation Alliance (AFCA) summit meeting held outside China (photo: Tamás Kovács – MTI)

Asian Financial Cooperation Alliance (AFCA) summit in Budapest

Also on Tuesday, the Hungarian Prime Minister attended the opening of the first Asian Financial Cooperation Alliance (AFCA) summit meeting held outside China, in Budapest. The rise of China heralds a new era and will remain a dominant long-term trend in the global economy, Viktor Orban said at the event held in the building of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB), adding that “in response to the new situation, Hungary’s government launched its opening to the east policy in 2010.”

Ever since, Hungary has been “the first country to react to every move”: it was the first to welcome the presidential Belt and Road Initiative, and attend a meeting and sign an agreement about the scheme, he said. China’s economy is growing at a blistering pace, which will lead to enormous import demands and the country will eventually need to expand its production capacities abroad, Orbán said. Hungary has a good starting position in the global competition to benefit from the opportunities that will arise from these developments, he said.

Hungary is the best-placed country in the central and eastern European region in the race to cooperate with China, Orbán said, arguing that Hungary is the region’s top exporter to China as well as the top regional destination for Chinese investments. In addition, tax rates are low, economic policy is based on common sense rather than ideology, Hungary’s geographic location is favourable to China and the two countries mutually respect one another, Orbán said.

Huang Hong, vice chairman at the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said the Belt and Road initiative was charging ahead and the countries involved were cooperating in developing their economic ties. Trade between China and the countries involved in the initiative is clearly expanding and cooperation is deepening at various levels, he said. The vice chairman expressed concern over recent “waves” that he said could hurt European-Asian cooperation, such as the “roots of anti-globalisation sentiment”, adding that it was also becoming increasingly difficult to monitor and prevent financial risks.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI; featured photo: Tamás Kovács – MTI