Photo: MTI

Government official: Philippines key partner in SE Asia

The Philippines remains one of Hungary's key partners in Southeast Asia, Levente Magyar, the deputy foreign minister, said in Budapest on Tuesday.

The Hungarian government sees the Philippines as a country that will be taking on an increasingly larger role on the global economic and political stage, Magyar said after a business forum and the fifth meeting of the Hungarian-Philippine economic mixed committee, noting that the archipelagic country has seen annual economic growth of around 8 percent in recent years and had a young population.

Hungary and the Philippines established their diplomatic relations 50 years ago, and though a previous government had closed down the embassy in Manila in 1995, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán reopened it in 2017, he said.

In the spirit of the two countries’ shared values, Hungary sent emergency assistance to the families of those killed and those injured in last Sunday’s terrorist attack at a Catholic mass, Magyar said.

He said that the meeting of the mixed committee identified water management and agriculture as the key areas of bilateral economic cooperation. Hungary continues to export a considerable amount of meat to the Southeast Asian country, and more Hungarian suppliers are expected to enter the Philippine market, Magyar said, adding that the Philippines favoured Hungarian meat products because of their premium quality.

The third pillar of cooperation, he said, was scientific research, noting the role of the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (MATE). In addition to its partner universities, MATE also works together with several Philippine state institutions in research and development, he said.

Also, Hungary offers scholarships to 55 Philippine students each year to study at Hungarian universities, Magyar said, adding that the government wanted to welcome even more students from the Southeast Asian country.

Allan B. Gepty, the assistant secretary for international trade at the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry, thanked Hungary for the aid it provided to those affected by the terrorist attack.

He said Hungary was the Philippines seventh most important export market in the European Union, adding that the tourism sector also offered opportunities for cooperation.

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