- Category: Economy
15 Nov 2012
- Written by Recto Mercene / Reporter
Landlocked Hungary has 10 million citizens, about one-tenth the 100 million citizens of the Philippines, yet its per capita is $13,500 against our $4,000, reason enough for Szabolcs Takacs, Hungary’s deputy state secretary for Global Affairs, to lead a small delegation, pay the country a visit in search for possible trade and investments possibilities.
Although the Philippines have had some four decades of diplomatic ties with Hungary, the country have maintained constant touch with Budapest through foreign ministerial consultations, such as the visit there last year by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario during the Hungarian presidency of the Council of European Union, he said.
Takacs says although diplomatic ties with Hungary was established in September 1973, they would like to assess four decades of cooperation on “what we have achieved, where we are standing now, especially, where are we heading and what are the mutual interests and goals of the two countries.”
He said Hungary wanted to reciprocate del Rosario’s visit as well.
“We wanted to reciprocate with the Philippines, we are on the same platform on several international issues and common understanding because of cultural and religious commonalities: Hungary is majority Catholic like the Philippines,” he said.
During an interview, Takacs said Hungary wanted to maintain a high level of consultation and cooperation with the country, and held a meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Export Zone Authority (Peza), Asian Development Bank and various agencies.
Takacs says that before World War II, Hungary belongs to a group of communist countries which he said very much defined their politics. “Since we become a democracy, we would like to revitalize our ties with Asia and re-launch and make it stronger.”
Hungary remains an important economic partner in Asia, such as Japan, South Korea and China, Takacs claims.
However, he said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, constitutes a very important area for economic and other ties of cooperation.
“This is a region of 600 million people with stable economic growth and very clear vision for their economic and social development,” Takacs noted, adding that Hungary would like to respond positively to these changes.
Although Hungary has achieved minor economic growth despite the recession, he admits that Hungary is not in a good situation as in most Asian nations, which now enjoys huge rate of GDP growth.
There are about 100 Filipinos in Budapest, engaged mostly in health care.
During his visit, Takacs said he had received favorable endorsements from Peza.
“Go ahead, take the risks, take advantage of incentives, explore and engage,” he was told by Peza Deputy Director General Mary Harriet O. Abordo.
Current trade between Budapest and Manila stands at €200 million, a tiny amount which Takacs wanted to increase, by way of imports of fruits, handicraft and related agricultural products.
On the other hand, he said Hungary can offer processed or frozen food, while their capability especially extends to the export of construction machinery, machine parts, medical goods and rubber goods.
We are knowledge-based economy with a lot of services, technology and know-how, that we can export to Philippines partners.” Takacs said Hungary specializes in water-management and water-related technology, such as water-treatment and sewage-water treatment.
“These are the fields where we see the Philippines, especially in rural areas, which are the most vulnerable places because of natural disaster and negative impact of climate change,” he said.
Takacs, accompanied by Ambassador to Jakarta, Szilveszter Bus, said that although his country has a tiny population, it would be easy to encourage them to come, having partly seen some of the Philippine’s premiere tourist spots.
“You have a beautiful country, I wanted to stay longer and see more of the tourist places,” Takacs says, adding that even if only 1 percent, or 1 million Hungarian visits the Philippines, “they are quality tourists, willing to spend on luxuries and souvenirs.”
As to the related purpose of his visit, Takacs says he wanted to give a clear picture of economic situation of his country and in Europe in general and also give them clearer insight and information on their administrative environment, such as customs duties, and logistical possibilities.
“This is only the first step, we are at the beginning of a long route,” he said.
In Photo: Hungary’s Deputy State Secretary for Global Affairs Szabolcs Takacs during an interview at the Makati Hotel on Wednesday evening. (Ryan Ricaford)