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Hungary sees Vietnam as strategic partner

HCM CITY (VNS) — With its foreign policy of "Opening to the East", Hungary sees Viet Nam as a strategic diplomatic partner in the Asian region, Peter Szijjarto, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations said at a Hungary-Viet Nam Business Forum held yesterday in HCM City.

The forum was organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Trade Promotion Agency, the Hungarian Embassy and the Hungarian Investment and Trade Agency.

Szijjarto noted that two-way trade had increased from US$70 million in 2010 to $82 million last year. Hungary exported $48-50 million and Viet Nam, more than $30 million.

However, he added that it had yet to match the two countries' trade potential.

"Bilateral trade is expected to rise to a three-digit figure in the near future," Szijjarto said.

"The economic crisis has changed everything. Apart from traditional markets, Hungary has to seek new partners, and Asian countries are target destinations," he added.

Viet Nam's explosive, economic growth gives Hungarian companies exposure to an emerging market in Southeast Asia.

Despite global economic hardships, a steady GDP growth rate of more than 5 per cent for the last decade had made the country attractive for Hungarian businesses looking to expand their product and service offerings in Asia.

Szijjarto said Viet Nam should implement solutions to promote production and create more jobs for labourers, as Hungary has done.

In Hungary, the Government has promoted productions and created more jobs by reforming the tax system with a reduction of corporate income taxes and labour income taxes.

It has made an effort to control public debt and diminish administrative procedures to encourage investment.

At the forum, Peter Farago, chief advisor to the chairperson of the Hungarian Investment and Trade Agency, said HITA's focus was on supporting foreign trade of Hungarian small – and medium-sized enterprises. It also had encouraged and helped foreign enterprises invest in Hungary.

Smaller companies have been one of the largest beneficiaries of growing economic ties between Hungary and Viet Nam. They are the backbone of growing industrialized nations.

SMEs from Hungary have been eager to set up joint ventures with Vietnamese partners in technology and are more directly targeted towards software development and information communications.

Hungary's central European location and recent admission into the EU gives Vietnamese companies a foothold into the 450 million citizens of the EU. The World Bank's "Doing Business Survey" ranks Hungary as one of the most business-friendly countries in its region.

Le Huong Giang, deputy director of the southern region's Investment Promotion Centre under the Foreign Investment Agency of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said Viet Nam had encouraged foreign investment in fields such as human resources, infrastructure, hi-tech, health and education.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Viet Nam was ranked as one of the top-eight priority-host economies for FDI in the conference's World Investment Prospects Survey for the 2010-12 period.

Currently, the number of Hungary's FDI projects remains modest, but Giang said she expected to see more investment in Viet Nam in the future.

The forum was held on the occasion of an official visit by Peter Szijjarto and a 50-member delegation.

Hungarian businesses operating in environmental protection, water management, information technology, agriculture, and education and health care attended business-to-business meetings.

Szijjarto said during his visit, the two sides reached a consensus on a number of specific measures to foster bilateral cooperation in the future, including starting new projects using the Hungarian Government's conditional preferential credits for water-supply projects in central Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces and a population e-management project in northern Hai Phong Port City.

Co-operation in health also has a special significance to bilateral ties, which was marked by the signing of a contract between Can Tho City and the Kesz Novotrading partnership, to build the Can Tho Tumour Hospital worth 60 million euros. Construction is expected to begin by the middle of next year. — VNS


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