Hungary will start exporting meat products to the Philippines before the end of February, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with Ramon M. Lopez, Trade and Industry minister of the Philippines, in Budapest.
Szijjártó told a press conference after the talks that Hungary and the Philippines have launched a partnership in agricultural research, and that joint water management projects are underway as well. He noted that Hungary was the first country to ratify a partnership and cooperation agreement between the two regions, and it backed an extension of a European Commission preferential trade pact for another two years. Hungary also supports the relaunching of free trade talks with the Philippines, he added.
Lopez said his country wants to build closer ties with Hungary and its region, and trusts there will be further foreign investment in the Philippines. The Filipino politician claimed that he saw great opportunities to develop trade and industry in his country, and urged closer cooperation between the Philippines and Hungary.
FM Péter Szijjártó with President Rodrigo Duterte in March 2017. Photo: KKM/ MTI.
Hungary and the Philippines decided to sign a contract in March last year, when Szijjártó reopened the Hungarian embassy in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, after a 25-year hiatus. According to the terms of this contract, Hungary opened a 510-million-euro credit line to boost its exports to the Philippines, and Hungary will also welcome 35 Filipino university students to study in the country on scholarships. In addition, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that his country intends to advocate for a free trade agreement between the EU and the Philippines as soon as possible.
Philippines offers a market of 100 million people, with a growth rate, of 6.8%, thus it seems to fit in with Hungary’s “Eastern opening” trade strategy which aims to deepen and open new diplomatic, and more importantly economic, ties focusing on rapidly-growing eastern countries.
At the same time, the deal comes amid continued international concern over President Rodrigo Duterte, who has engaged in a violent anti-drug campaign that some have argued reaches the level of crimes against humanity. He is also known for his steady stream of colorful statements, such as when he referred to Pope Francis as a “son of a whore” two years ago.
image via Zoltán Máthé/ MTI