Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: New world economic order offers great opportunities

In Asia's "unstoppable rise", Hungary spies "huge opportunities in this new world economic order", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after meeting Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in his office, where the delegations of the two countries signed several cooperation agreements.

Orbán said Hungary’s Eastern opening policy was rooted “in the idea that the world would change rapidly and the power relations would change, requiring a response from Hungary to the rise of Asia.”

He said his Vietnamese counterpart’s visit was “crucial” for Hungary because he came from a “continent growing unstoppably and Vietnam is developing in an unprecedented way”, so it was “easy to predict” that Vietnam would emerge as one of the winners of the coming era. “Such transformations herald opportunities as well as risks. We see the new world economic era as an enormous opportunity for Hungary, since Hungarians are an Eastern people by origin. We belong to the West but came from the East; we understand that world, and its values are important to us: respect, equality, and service to our family and nation,” the prime minister said.

Orbán said that in the past decade Asian countries had caught up and left behind Western countries that were traditionally active in Hungary. “That trend is expected to continue,” he added. He said he hoped that Vietnam would join the ranks of successful countries in Hungary, bilateral trade would grow and that “we will also invest in each other’s countries”. Orbán added that since the “political position of the two countries is very similar, there is a good chance of that happening”.

“The two countries are also trying to find their places in similarly complicated situations”, according to their national interests, and dialogue would help, he added. “It comes from the similarity of our situations that we see the issue of peace similarly, and that of war, too. Vietnam has made a living from winning its wars, which commands respect, and Hungarians have made a living from surviving their defeats, which is also a virtue.”

Orbán congratulated the Vietnamese government on creating 28 million jobs in 5 years. They have also brokered a “fantastic agreement” on free trade with the European Union, and “since Hungary is an export- and investment-oriented country, that is very important for us.”

Under the agreement, 99 percent of bilateral trade between the EU and Vietnam will become tariff-free by 2030, he added. Hungary will use its EU presidency in the second half of 2024 to try to convince member states to ratify the investment protection agreement between the EU and Vietnam if they hadn’t already done so, he said. “I also encouraged the prime minister to support as large and as varied Vietnamese investments in Hungary as possible,” he said.

Trade between the two countries is on the rise, but they should be complemented with investments “so we can also manufacture in each other’s countries and participate in each other’s scientific work and research.” Currently 900 Vietnamese students study in Hungary, he added.

Orbán said that traditional agricultural and health-care exports complemented with cultural university-level cooperation and the opportunities to boost investments amounted to a “big package”, and cooperation significant in volume, depth and value. “As both countries have seen war”, Hungary and Vietnam shared the same views on peace, he said. Vietnam, just as Hungary, saw peace as the most important asset in foreign policy, he said. That was why the two countries agreed in respect of conflicts around the world and found cooperation easy in international forums, he said. “We shall stand by peace separately and, if need be, together.”

He said he hoped the war in Hungary’s neighbourhood would be suspended with a ceasefire and concluded with a peace agreement as soon as possible. Orbán thanked Pham Minh Chinh for his visit, noting that they would hold a Vietnamese-Hungarian business and economic forum together on Friday.

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