John Matthew Cruz
Hungary opened its embassy in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City on Tuesday after 22 years of absence in the country.
Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjárto led the ceremony and announced that a bank based in their country earmarked $510 million to finance investments in the Philippines.
To mark the event, the two countries inked four bilateral trade and cultural agreements, including the sending of 35 Filipino students to Budapest on a yearly basis.
“We have entered a new era of balanced relationship. In 1991 we opened our embassy here only to close it four years after. We see that as a mistake, after 22 years we want to make up and resume our relationship,” Szijjárto said.
The Hungarian official brought in eight traders from Budapest who are eager to invest in the Philippines. He said that six Filipino businessmen have also signified interest in investing in Hungary.
“The good thing is that Hungary’s Export-Import Bank Plc. (Eximbank) has earmarked $510 million which could be tapped by both Hungarian and Filipino businessmen,” Szijjárto told The Manila Times in an interview.
The minister said that his country was attracted by the 6.8 growth of the Philippines and its more than 100 million population.
He said Hungary is finalizing negotiations on the export of meat products, agricultural machines and technology, as well as water anti-pollutant machines.
The Philippines exports fruits and vegetables to Hungary.
Szijjarto and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez signed the Philippines-Hungarian Economic Cooperation Agreement that aims to creating a Joint Economic Commission for both sides to serve as a platform to discuss trade, investments, economic cooperation and other related matters.
“Cooperation activities include exchange of information, participation in trade and investment-related activities and promotion of economic cooperation among institutions,” Lopez said.
The JEC will also promote cooperation in terms of expert services, financial institutions and banking sectors, establishment of joint ventures and facilitation of the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises. On trade, the Philippines will promote auto parts, processed food, costume jewelry/giftware and personal care products.
In 2016, Hungary ranked as the Philippines’ 40th trading partner. In 2015, the Philippines was Hungary’s 4th import supplier among the Asean Member States (AMS).