State Secretary: Hungary’s Importance Increasing As Reshaped Foreign Policy Pays Off
Tamás Székely 2016.01.27.
Hungary’s weight in the European Union has grown with the country now having greater influence in both economic diplomacy and foreign policy than before, foreign ministry state secretary László Szabó said at a business conference organised by the daily Világgazdaság. Despite the fact that Hungary “is not well liked” by mainstream EU politicians, the “quick, transparent and good decisions” made by the government during the migrant crisis are “secretly supported” by German business leaders, as these measures are protecting their business interests, Szabó said.
He said it was a good decision to reorganize the foreign ministry in a way that it also focuses on Hungary’s economic interests, since this has led to Hungary increasing its value-added in exports. Hungary’s foreign policy of opening up to the east has been vindicated “contrary to reports”, he said, noting that exports grew by an annual one percent last year despite exports to Russia declining by 28 percent and exports to Ukraine falling by 20% due to EU sanctions.
László Szabó said Moscow had recently ordered 50 electric buses and Hungary had just delivered its first shipment of raw beef to China two weeks ago. The agreement to export beef could make it easier to export pork, and later poultry, to China, too, he said. Hungary has the most permits to export food to China in central Europe, giving it a major competitive advantage, he said, adding the foreign ministry is set to continue intensifying relations with eastern and southern countries in 2016. He said last week’s Slovenian-Hungarian government meeting had been successful, and the two countries agreed on cooperating in road, rail and gas network projects.
Economy ministry state secretary István Lepsényi said Hungary’s small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) can only grow if they experiment with new products or develop their existing ones. He said the government is spending some 2 trillion forints (EUR 6.4bn) on helping SMEs as part of the innovative economy development programme GINOP, with 300 billion forints being allocated to SMEs this year.