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East-West Cooperation a “Huge Opportunity,” Says Péter Szijjártó in Bangkok

Hungary Today 2024.03.19.

Hungary does not see East-West cooperation as a threat or a risk, but as a huge opportunity from which all parties can greatly benefit, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The Foreign Minister attended a conference organized by the Stock Exchange of Thailand. In his address, he underlined that Hungary is deeply integrated into the world economy and is one of the ten most open economies in the world, with exports accounting for roughly 85 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Hungary had survived the crises of the past years, and Mr. Szijjártó had predicted that

this year will be much easier, as energy prices have fallen, inflation has been brought down, EU funds have been partially unblocked, and economic growth has returned.

In his speech, Szijjártó said that there is fierce competition for investment around the world, but there are several reasons why it is the best decision to invest in Hungary.

First of all, he mentioned that Hungary has a uniquely stable political system in Europe, with a two-thirds government that has been in place for fourteen years. He also pointed to the substantial investment incentives and the lowest tax rates on the continent. He spoke of the success of the government’s strategy to make Hungary an important meeting point for Eastern and Western companies.

He stressed Hungary’s interest in civilized East-West cooperation, and said that he would not welcome developments towards the renewal of political blocs in the world. “But when one talks about this in Europe, even among foreign ministers, one has three options: to be labelled a friend of the Russians, a spy for Putin, or a propagandist for the Kremlin,” he said.

We see East-West cooperation not as a threat, not as a risk, but as a huge opportunity from which we can benefit a lot,”

he added.

Minister Szijjártó reiterated that if the rules are respected, all companies in Hungary can operate without hindrance, regardless of where they come from. He stressed that last year, the record investment of €6.5 billion in 2022 was doubled, and 82 percent of the working capital came from the East, mostly from China and South Korea. Meanwhile, Germany and the United States led the way in terms of the number of projects, demonstrating the balance of the situation.

He cited the automotive industry as an example of the results of the East-West cooperation strategy. He said that apart from Germany and China, Hungary was the only country in which all three German premium car brands had production bases; Stellantis and Suzuki were also producing in Hungary, and China’s BYD was building its first European plant here.

At the same time, Eastern suppliers are arriving in large numbers and Hungary has become one of the world’s largest producers of electric batteries,”

he added.

He welcomed the record-breaking $730 million in Hungarian-Thai trade last year, mutual investments, and doubling of tourism figures.

In additions, AirAsia will launch a direct flight between Bangkok and Budapest in the autumn, following a doubling of tourism between the two countries in 2023, compared to a year earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced. The ministry said in a statement after the talks with Szijjártó’s Thai counterpart, that tourism figures had also doubled, with more than 10,000 Thai tourists arriving in Hungary and more than 30,000 Hungarians visiting Thailand last year.

“Therefore, a Thai international airline is already considering launching a flight to Budapest. Preparations have started and discussions will be held today. We have a good chance of establishing a direct connection between Bangkok and Budapest in the near future,” he said.

Photo: Facebook Fly AirAsia

The Minister announced that the government will also give a boost to the negotiations on the investment protection agreement, which is also in the country’s interest as more and more investors are coming from Thailand and trade is expanding.

The politician expressed support for Thailand’s application to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), underlining that it is one of the few international organizations that has remained impartial, balanced, and has not allowed itself to be politicized.

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Featured Image: Pixabay

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