Indo-Pacific Forum in Prague: “Global East-West cooperation is needed”
Within Europe, hope for East-West cooperation has so far faded due to the war in Ukraine, but globally this cooperation is increasingly important, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told the Indo-Pacific Forum in Prague on Monday.
Szijjártó called for accelerating talks with Southeast Asian countries on potential partnership and cooperation agreements, arguing that stepping up foreign relations would strengthen the EU. The conclusion of free trade agreements with Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia would be essential in this regard.
An overhaul of East-West supply chains for the European economy was of vital importance, said Szijjártó, adding that
“Failure to improve economic cooperation between Europe and the Indo-Pacific region would deprive both sides of significant growth potential, which is why it is incumbent on governments and institutions in Brussels to strengthen relations active in their mutual interest.
Szijjártó said Hungary’s economy is the tenth most open in the world, noting that exports account for more than 85% of its economic output.
“Last year, our exports grew by 25 percent and our trade with the Indo-Pacific region surpassed a record $13.5 billion,” he added.
he said, adding that Hungary has been doing well in its cooperation with Southeast Asia and the region has been the biggest investor in the country for three consecutive years.
“I therefore do not think it is surprising that Hungary calls for pragmatic cooperation between Europe and the Southeast Asian region with mutual benefits in mind,” he added. .
“In Hungary, we have done a lot to improve the country’s competitiveness”,
Szijjártó said, adding that it was now the turn of the EU and the European Commission to dismantle the trade barriers that still prevent Europe from developing trade relations with some of the world’s fastest growing regions.
Speaking about cooperation with China, Szijjártó said:
“You have to admit that today, whatever the political ideologies and the disputes they have created, the European economy cannot, could not function properly without Chinese supplies, and you have to also admit that the Chinese investments have greatly contributed to Europe’s economic development and modernization,”
said the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He called for negotiations on an investment protection and promotion agreement between the EU and China to be concluded as soon as possible.