Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: MTI

Szijjarto: Western Europeans want to undermine CEE’s competitive edge

Western Europeans are mounting legal and political attacks in an attempt to undermine central Europe's competitive edge, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said in Brussels on Tuesday, insisting they were envious of CEE countries' ability to attract investments from the East.
23. January 2024 17:35

“Security threats largely undermine free trade, while political and ideological attacks threaten the free flow of investments”, affecting export economies like Hungary’s, Szijjarto told a press conference after a European Union Council meeting on trade affairs.

He said Hungary supported a global investment facilitation agreement to be adopted by the World Trade Organisation at its next meeting. This would undercut political and ideological obstacles in the way of the free flow of investments, he added.

Szijjarto reiterated Hungary’s objection to de-risking — essentially separating the Chinese and European economies — saying this was “an artificial political intervention” which went against Europe’s economic interests.

Dressed up in bureaucratic language, “they want to … security screen investments from … China,” he said.

The minister said Hungary did not want to be forced to return to artificial interventions in the economy redolent of the communist era.

The next decade, he said, would be “a decade of Eastern investments in Europe”. Most investments in Hungary in the past four years came from South Korea and China, respectively, nudging Germany and the US out of first place, he added.

He said central Europe was more competitive than Western Europe in attracting investments, “and we Hungarians are the main driver of central Europe’s success”.

“The global automotive revolution is essentially based on German-Chinese cooperation, and Hungary has become the European hub for all this,” he said.

Hungary, Szijjarto added, did not take the nationality of a company’s owners into consideration, only that it should comply with Hungarian laws.

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