Peter Szijjarto's meeting with Wang Wentao - Photo: MTI

Szijjarto announces 3 billion euros of new Chinese investments in car industry

China is investing 3 billion euros in Hungary's automotive industry in the coming period, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said after talks with Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao in Beijing on Monday. This will further strengthen Hungary's position as a top investment destination in central Europe, he added.

Szijjarto had talks with the chief executives of five major Chinese companies, four of which will implement investments in Hungary’s electric car industry which supplies German manufacturers, according to a foreign ministry statement.

The new investments will make a significant contribution to Hungary’s ability to maintain its economic growth, the minister said, adding that the projects would be implemented in the interest of renewing Europe’s automotive industry and meeting the demands of German manufacturers.

Chinese companies, he said, consider the country a top destination for their investments in central Europe, noting that by the end of 2022, Hungary had the largest volume of Chinese investments in the region. “We want to continue maintaining this trend … so we’ll encourage additional investments from China, giving them the maximum possible support,” he said.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, Szijjarto said that among the most negative consequences of the war was the re-emergence of blocs in the world which, he added, went against Hungary’s interests. “We want connections, not blocs, to be a basis on which the world operates in the coming period … We think that China’s global initiatives serve to achieve this goal, so we support these,” Szijjarto said, emphasising the need to build EU-China cooperation based on mutual trust and benefits.

“We do not agree with the position that brands China as a threat. Our position is that there are enormous opportunities in cooperation with China as a partner.”

“For this reason, we’d like to develop steady cooperation between the EU and China, and placing Chinese companies on a list of EU sanctions or introducing restrictions on their exports would be insupportable,” Szijjarto said.

He noted that in 2022 China’s GDP expanded to a new record, exceeding the total GPD of the European Union, while it created 12 million urban jobs within a single year.

“These results indicate that Europe can only benefit from cooperation with China, and this is why we are urging strong cooperation built on mutual respect,” the Hungarian foreign minister said.

CATL battery plant encourages further Chinese investment in Hungary

The building of the battery plant by China’s CATL in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, is already stimulating other Chinese investments in the country, too, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Beijing on Monday.

This is helping to boost Hungary’s competitiveness within Europe, given that Chinese investments bring the most cutting-edge technology to their new bases, Szijjarto said ahead of a working dinner with CATL CEO Robin Zeng.

Moreover, investments in the electric vehicle industry ensure that Hungary remains a leader in the fight against climate change, according to a ministry statement quoting the minister.

“This is something everyone who feels a responsibility for the environment can be proud of,” Szijjarto said. He noted that 14 percent of global harmful emissions are linked to public road transport, adding that all green and climate goals would remain “a naive illusion” without the transition to electric vehicles.

The minister said competition for Chinese investments in Europe remained fierce.

“It’s clear that besides the competitiveness of Hungary’s investment environment, the excellent political relations between Hungary and China also play a major role in us winning these investment bids over much stronger western countries.” Szijjarto said.

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