“It is in Europe’s definite interests to establish even tighter relations with Asia in view of the fact that a global trade and economic war is beginning to unfold”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared in Brussels in the recess of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on Friday.

In a statement to Hungarian reporters, Mr. Szijjártó underlined that the unfolding trade and economic war must be avoided at all costs, because it would have an extremely negative effect on Europe’s economies.

“Hungary is a country that has an open economy, and accordingly it is in its interests for trade and economic relations to be hindered by as few legal and economic barriers as possible”, he added.

The Minister highlighted the fact that the world is entering a new economic era that is being determined by the digital industrial revolution.

“New technologies are coming into everyday use, and Asian companies are playing a key role in the development and production of these technologies. If Europe is incapable of tightening its economic cooperation with Asia, it will lead to Europe lagging even further behind in the global economic competition”, he stressed.

Accordingly, Hungary is calling for closed cooperation between the European and Asian continent in several key areas, including the field of free trade agreement, the negotiation and adoption of which must be accelerated, in his opinion.

With relation to investment, we must strive to achieve closer cooperation between the European Investment Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank and the international Investment Bank to enable the generation of as many development projects as possible relating to the realisation of infrastructure development projects and investment that link Europe and Asia.

The Minister also stressed the importance of tightening relation between people, with relation to which he cited the wide-ranging Hungarian state education scholarship programme. According to Mr. Szijjártó, Hungary currently maintains 2055 state-funded scholarship places for the ASEM countries, and plans to increase quotas in view of high demand.

Mr. Szijjártó told reporters that Hungary has 100 million dollars of registered capital in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and that in December the International Investment Bank will be coming to a final decision on moving its headquarters to Budapest.

“The importance of developing tighter relations is also indicated by the fact that Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Korean investment significantly contribute to keeping the growth of the Hungarian economy above 4 percent”, he added.

According to the Minister, negotiations have begun with the Philippines on the acquisition of seven further licences for the import of Hungarian food industry products. In addition, two countries have confirmed their cooperation with relation to protecting Christian communities.

Hungary has launched its third tied aid programme with Laos, within the framework of which Hungarian enterprises will be realising 160 million dollars’ worth of investment projects within the fields of electronics, water management and agriculture, he continued.

With relation to Thailand, Hungary is supporting and promoting the earliest possible commencement of free trade agreement negotiations between the EU and the far-eastern country, in addition to which 15 Hungarian meat industry companies are currently exporting their products to Singapore, he stated.

“It is therefore in Europe’s interests to maintain close cooperation with the world’s most rapidly developing regions”, Mr. Szijjártó added.