Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó expressed optimism over bilateral economic cooperation between his country and the Philippines during the reopening of the Hungarian Embassy at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on March 28. It has been 22 years since his government had such a presence in the country.
“We came together to kick off a new era of a Hungarian-Filipino bilateral relationship. We understand that this country has the highest growth rate in Asia,” acknowledged Szijjártó.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez affirmed on the part of the Philippines that both countries will lay out the framework of bilateral cooperation, which they believe will result in much stronger ties.
“Our bilateral talks are just the beginning of a very robust relationship that we see. Hungary’s absence here for the past 22 years is now over, and this is really a very good opportunity for all of us to work closely together to achieve our mutual goals in development, especially since we also experience a very good growth momentum with an average of 6.8-percent, and a resurgence in manufacturing and other sectors,” Lopez said.
Foreign Undersecretary Ariel Abadilla, meanwhile, agreed that opening the embassy is an important milestone in bilateral relations as it is a clear demonstration of both countries’ commitment to one another.
An immediate proof to this was incoming Hungarian Ambassador to Manila Dr. József Bencze’s announcement that day that 35 scholarships will be given to Filipino students to study in any of their universities.
“The Philippines and Hungary are moving towards greater cooperation in education, culture and people-to-people exchanges. We are very much pleased with Hungary’s generous provision of scholarships to deserving Filipino students. These students will then become the very instruments to deeper understand each other and reinforce our trust towards the capacities of our people, to broaden our cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, innovation and the environment,” Abadilla related.
On March 27, Szijjártó also signed an agreement on cultural exchange and foreign affairs with the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and the Department of Foreign Affairs before meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Panacan Guest House in Davao City.
Szijjártó is the first top diplomat from the European Union to visit the country under the Duterte administration.
Lopez and Szijjártó further signed an Economic Cooperation Agreement, which aims to create the Joint Economic Commission (JEC)—a platform for discussion between the two countries in matters related to trade, investments, and economic cooperation.
“Cooperation activities include exchange of information, participation in trade- and investment-related activities, and promotion of economic cooperation among institutions,” Lopez enumerated.
He added that the JEC also aims to include cooperation in expert services, financial institutions and banking sectors, and the establishment of joint ventures and facilitation of the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).