Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó has officially opened the Hungarian Embassy in Wellington, which in his opinion will enable the reinforcement of contacts with the three thousand strong Hungarian diaspora living in New Zealand, a heightened Hungarian presence in the pacific region, the further improvement of trade and cultural relations and the effective realisation of economic policy goals.
In a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI from New Zealand, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that Hungary is the eighth country of the European Union to open a diplomatic representation in the country and only the second Central European country after Poland.
In the upcoming period Hungarian foreign policy will be concentrating a lot more on the Oceania region, where major opportunities are becoming available for Hungarian enterprises within the increasingly globalised economy, he highlighted.
In reply to a question, Mr. Szijjártó said that there is particularly high demand in New Zealand for Hungarian automobile and machinery industry products, water management and technology solutions and infrastructure developments based on medicinal spring water. Eximbank has opened a 720 million dollar credit line to facilitate the appearance of Hungarian companies on the New Zealand market, he added.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade pointed out that Hungarian exports to New Zealand exceeded 50 million dollars last year, following a year-on-year increase of 12 percent. Our main export goods are currently cars, office machines and electronic equipment.
Hungary expects the opening of the Embassy in Wellington and the appointment of a foreign trade attaché to boost trade flow. Mr. Szijjártó noted that the most successful current European investment by a New Zealand enterprise is located in Hungary: the European logistics centre of a roofing material manufacturing company in Várpalota.
The Minister highlighted that the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand, which would also open up new business opportunities for Hungarian enterprises, is in Hungary’s interests. According to Mr. Szijjártó, a comprehensive agreement must be concluded that handles the sensitivity of Hungarian agriculture, and the Hungarian Government is calling for negotiations on the free trade agreement to begin as soon as possible, during the first half of this year.
During the course of the day, Mr. Szijjártó held talks with Minister of Justice Chris Finlayson in Wellington, then met with his counterpart, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign affairs Murray McCully in Auckland, with whom he signed an agreement on bilateral foreign affairs consultation in international organisations, including the UN, as well as an agreement designed to increase the effectiveness of cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
With relation to the latter, Mr. Szijjártó noted that reconstruction groups from New Zealand and Hungary worked side-by-side in Afghanistan, in addition to which New Zealand and Hungary and two of the world’s 23 countries that are taking part in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organisation “with real soldiers”: there are currently 150 Hungarian soldiers and 120 military personnel from New Zealand stationed in Iraq.
The Minister also told the press that during the course of his visit he had begun negotiations on several bilateral agreements, including on avoiding double taxation and social security, in addition to which a decision was also made to increase cooperation between the two countries on infrastructure and technology relating to medicinal and spring water, and within the field of healthcare treatments.
During the course of the day, Mr. Szijjártó inaugurated a commemorative plaque in Wellington marking the 60th anniversary of New Zealand’s welcoming of refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He held a lecture entitled “The Future of the EU after Brexit” in the Grand Hall of New Zealand’s Parliament House and gave a closing speech at a Hungarian-New Zealand trade and investment event jointly organised by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the Hungarian Embassy, while in Auckland he opened a Hungarian-New Zealand business forum.