Cooperation between Hungary and the Philippines enters new dimension
“Cooperation between Hungary and the Philippines is entering a new dimension thanks to the reopening of the Hungarian Embassy in Manila and the conclusion of several new agreements”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared in a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on the first day of his official visit to the Philippines.
“Economic cooperation with the Philippines has major advantages for Hungary and the Southeast Asian country occupies a prominent place in Hungary’s foreign economic strategy in view of the fact that its growth of 6.8 percent is one of the highest in Asia and it has a population of over 100 million. Its significance is further increased by the fact that the Philippines currently occupies the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)”, the Minister said.
“In view of the fact that in this part of the world it is impossible to achieve success without a personal presence, on Tuesday Hungary will be reopening its Embassy, which was closed on 1995”, Mr. Szijjártó announced.
The Foreign Minister also told the press that on Monday the parties would be signing an agreement between Hungary’s Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade and its Filipino partner institute, and between the two countries’ chambers of commerce, in addition to which Hungary’s Eximbank will be opening a 510 million euro credit line to facilitate the appearance of Hungarian enterprises in the Philippines. “In the interests of making it even easier for Hungarian companies to enter the Filipino market, the Hungarian Government is calling for the European Union and the Philippines to conclude a free trade agreement as soon as possible. Two rounds of related negotiations have been completed so far”, he pointed out.
Hungarian exports to the Philippines have increased by 25 percent during the past two years, and Mr. Szijjártó said that on Monday the parties determined the areas in which Hungarian enterprises may be receiving further opportunities. “First of all, Hungarian meat exports can now begin in view of the fact that the Filipino certification of four large meat processing plants has reached its final phase and they will soon be receiving their import licences”, Mr. Szijjártó said.
“Furthermore, the Philippines is planning to fully mechanise its agriculture within the next five years, for which it would also like to apply Hungarian technology. In addition, in view of the fact that the Philippines suffers at least ten water-related natural disasters every year, water often becomes polluted and around a quarter of the population has no access to a sewage network, there is major interest in Hungarian water management solutions and in Hungarian knowledge and expertise relating to the management of water systems”, he continued.
The Foreign Minister also said that a cultural cooperation agreement for the period 2017-2019 was concluded on Monday between the Ministry of Human Capacities and the Filipino Commission for Culture and the Arts, noting that 35 students from the Philippines will be awarded scholarship places to attend Hungarian higher education institutions.
“The two countries agree on the importance of combatting terrorism”, Mr. Szijjártó stated. The Abu Sayyaf muslin rebel organisation, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist terrorist organisation, is causing the Philippines severe problems with its regular bombings. “In view of the fact that Hungary is taking part in the international fight against terrorism and has been a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS from the very beginning, cooperation between the two countries in this field is close”, the Minister said.
On Monday, Hungary’s chief diplomat met with his Filipino counterpart Enrique Manalo and with Minister of Defence Delfin Lorenzana, in addition to being received for a courtesy visit by Prime Minister Rodrigo Duterte. The meeting with the Prime Minister was delayed, because prior to meeting the Hungarian Foreign Minister the Prime Minister received the American Ambassador. The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the first foreign minister from the European Union to be received by the Filipino Prime Minister since he entered office last summer; previously he had only received the foreign ministers of Australia, Japan and Norway.