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Cooperation with Singapore is beneficial for Hungary and the EU, with bilateral trade between the two countries likely hitting a record this year, and Singaporean companies showing increasing interest in investing in Hungary, the foreign minister said early on Wednesday. The foreign ministry said in a statement that Péter Szijjártó met Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, the head of the Singaporean Prime Minister’s Office, and Grace Fu, the minister-in-charge for trade relations, on his visit to the city state. Szijjártó told journalists after the meetings that bilateral trade between Singapore and Hungary had exceeded one billion dollars last year. This year also looked “promising”, with 24 Hungarian companies approved to export pork and poultry there, he said.
Singaporean companies were showing increasing interest in investment in Hungary, Szijjártó said. One planned by household appliance manufacturer Dyson is expected to be announced within a week, he added. “Singapore is the region’s most competitive country, one of the most open economies in the world and Hungary’s most important trade partner in south-east Asia, with most of the investments from the region coming to Hungary from Singapore.”
The closest possible cooperation with Singapore would also be in the European Union’s interest, and Hungary will make an effort to negotiate a digital trade agreement when it takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in July, he said. Although the EU and Singapore signed an investment protection agreement years ago, only 16 states including Hungary have ratified it so far, Szijjártó said, adding that Hungary would use its presidency to encourage the other 11 countries to take that step, he added. During the visit, the ministers extended an agreement on Hungary offering government grants to 30 Singaporean students to study in the country, he said.
Hungary and Singapore also see the most important aspects of world politics and economy similarly, and often diverge from the international mainstream in their position, Szijjártó said. Similarly to Hungary, Singapore is “very protective of its sovereignty, and has adopted a law to protect it… Singapore is also being attacked in politics, as is Hungary, for protecting its sovereignty,” he said. “We agreed that every country has a right to protect their national interests and to protect their sovereignty,” the minister said.
Touching on the war in Ukraine, Szijjártó said Singapore and Hungary had similar views on the conflict, as both were calling for peace and saw it as a task of the international community to “talk to those with whom they don’t necessarily agree with”. “Neither Ukraine nor Russia can win the war, so there is definitely a need of negotiations. The question in only when they will take place… We are calling for the talks to start as soon as possible because that is how we can save the most lives and pre-empt further destruction,” he said.