In a changed world, Hungarian foreign policy focuses on the increased representation of economic interests in addition to traditional diplomatic activities, Parliamentary State Secretary Péter Szijjártó of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Tuesday in his address on day two of the annual conference of heads of foreign representations.

The State Secretary emphasised: our world is undergoing rapid and fundamental political, economic and military changes, in the wake of which a new world order is being born. While the changes will have winners and losers, Hungary wants to be one of the winners, he pointed out.
He explained that this has required the country to be renewed, the major systems to be reorganised and Hungary's foreign policy must also be radically renewed. Under the new world order, the task of Hungarian foreign policy is to realise economic interests, he pointed out.

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Mr. Szijjártó said that in many countries the system has worked like that for a long time. Hungary is not the first to achieve the organisational integration now taking shape within the Foreign Ministry; serving the interests of foreign trade is also the task of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sweden, France or Slovakia, for example.

It is important that in addition to a strong production sector, the country should also become a base for research centres and industries generating high added value should also be concentrated on, he noted

The State Secretary pointed out that, in the foreseeable future, Hungary should lead the way in three respects, i.e. the contribution of industry to the output of the national economy and the ratio of export to GDP within the European Union as well as the ratio of per capita direct foreign working capital within Central Europe. The diplomatic corps and heads of foreign representations must play a major role in achieving these goals, he expounded.

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According to Mr. Szijjártó, the three tasks following from these goals include increasing exports and new opportunities on the external markets, promoting investment projects that create new jobs and facilitating the success of Hungarian businesses on foreign markets.

In his opinion, efforts must be continued in order to maintain a healthy economic structure that stands on its own two feet as far as the direction of export and the sphere of exporters are concerned. To that end, while we must increase our role on fast-growing markets east of Hungary, it is equally important to retain our European and American markets. He added that while 75 percent of all Hungarian workers are employed by small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs account for only 15 percent of exports despite the need to reduce the country's exposure to the production management decisions of major multinational companies.

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The State Secretary said: the Government has carried out all required structural and organisational transformations in order to enable foreign policy to encourage the growth of foreign trade to an unprecedented degree. Among these measures, Péter Szijjártó mentioned the setting up of the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) and the bolder export development and export financing activities of Eximbank. He added that in eastern relations, joint economic committees have been instrumental to cooperation on economic development, in addition to which the Hungarian National Trading House has been reinforced with plans to open another 15 trading houses.
The State Secretary added that in the future, at least one foreign trade attaché will work at each foreign representation.

At the end of his speech, he warned ambassadors that they should be the first to report on any information published about Hungary abroad in order to enable the Government to issue a quick and firm response. It is unacceptable that the ambassador concerned is slower to report on such issues than the Hungarian media, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The annual conference of ambassadors focuses on Hungarian foreign policy and Hungary's international relations. At the conference, the preceding period is assessed and the required directions of the forthcoming year's efforts are discussed.

At the three-day conference of the heads of Hungary’s diplomatic missions, which began on Monday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, members of the Government, State Secretaries and senior Ministry officials share their thoughts on foreign policy.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)