The ever-faster-growing economies of Asian countries have a major impact also on the open Hungarian economy, and it therefore stands to reason that we should tighten economic cooperation with India, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stated on Monday in Budapest.

The Minister had talks with Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and at a press conference held after their meeting, he said based on the fact that India qualifies as a leading power in a number of sectors and with regard to its natural features and Hungary’s competitive expertise, they will focus on five areas upon the development of cooperation. These are film production, digitisation, water management, solar energy and the pharmaceutical industry, he listed.

Regarding water management, he said Hungarian businesses are active in the region in the construction of urban water pipe systems, sewage treatment and sewage purification. In order to discuss further opportunities for cooperation, the Indian water minister will pay a visit to Budapest in October, he added.

Mr Szijjártó said India is the world’s seventh largest economy, and in the past few years, its GDP growth has been above 7 per cent. Indian companies constitute the fourth largest Asian investor community in Hungary; 35 Indian businesses provide jobs for almost seven thousand Hungarians, and the Hungarian government has concluded strategic partnership agreements with three companies, he pointed out.

He observed that the volume of bilateral trade, too, is growing dynamically; last year, there was a 16 per cent increase, and based on the data available to date, this pace of growth appears to be tenable this year as well.

The Minister also highlighted that Hungary is a committed supporter of the recommencement of free trade negotiations between the EU and India; this would clearly serve Hungary’s best interests.

He further mentioned that the two countries are closely cooperating within the UN. The world organisation is in need of reform, its operation should be made more effective, more responsive and more modern, and wherever the two countries’ concepts coincide, Hungary and India will continue to cooperate also in the future, he pointed out. He added that the UN must play a leading role in the management of the challenge posed by international terrorism.

He said Hungary provides 200 scholarships annually for Indian students for their participation in higher education.

The Indian Foreign Minister highlighted that Hungary’s competitiveness and its favourable investor environment makes it a useful partner with which India seeks to establish mutually advantageous cooperation.

He said at their meeting they also spoke about political issues, the V4, the EU and cooperation in the fields of education, tourism and science.

He took the view that many goals of Hungary and India coincide, and therefore there are a great many opportunities for cooperation.

In answer to a question, Mr Szijjártó said any trade war is bad news, and the EU, the United States and China are Hungary’s most important export markets. Therefore, Hungary, too, has a vested interest in the conclusion of trade wars.

He said in response to a journalist’s enquiry that it is unfair that while leading Western European mobile service providers are only too happy to work together with Huawei, they take the governments of Central Europe to task for doing the same.

In answer to another question, he said so far the Brazilian government has not sought Hungary’s help due to the forest fires, and so this question has not been on the government’s agenda. However, should the government be contacted, they will discuss the matter.

Before the press conference, the two ministers signed an agreement on a cultural exchange programme between the two countries.