Hungary to Promote Connectivity During Council Presidency

EU

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Hungary wants to take steps to advance connectivity when it takes the revolving presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2024, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said after the EU-Indo Pacific Ministerial Forum held ahead of an EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting in Brussels on Friday, state news wire MTI reports.

Hungary wants to accelerate free trade talks with the countries of Southeast Asia, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, Szijjártó said.

While Europeans were occupied with "outdated, ideological debates", countries in Southeast Asia were establishing the world's biggest free trade zone, he added, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations.

It would be in the EU's interest to form the "closest cooperation possible" with the RCEP countries, whose economies account for around 29% of global GDP, he said.

He warned that nobody would enter a free trade agreement with the EU if the aim was to "lecture" partners "politically and ideologically". 

In the past 10 years, Hungary's trade with countries in Southeast Asia has climbed around 75%, he said. "Hungary is proof that East-West cooperation can yield enormous benefits," he added.

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