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Feb 16, 2016 - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI

Budapest Would Like to Strengthen Hungarian-American Economic Relations

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó is holding talks in the United States’ second largest state. Negotiations in Texas are primarily centred on the economy, but Hungary’s chief diplomat will also be signing an agreement with the Mayor of Dallas in addition to holding a lecture on current negotiations concerning the free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union.

In an interview with Hungarian news agency MTI, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said the main object of today’s talks were to further strengthen Hungarian-American economic relations in view of their determining influence on the dynamically developing Hungarian economy. Texas is the second largest state and economically strongest state in the US, and is home to forty out of the fifty multinational companies already present in Hungary, the Minister pointed out.

These corporations are responsible for providing ninety thousand jobs in Hungary. New investment will be arriving in Hungary thanks to today’s negotiations: we can expect the creation of more than five hundred new jobs in the mid-term, primarily in the service sector and automobile industry-related activities.

Talks with Texan business leaders and potential investors in Hungary included a meeting with the directors of American Airlines in view of the fact that direct flights between the two countries are expected to recommence in the near future.

“Hungary is in a particularly advantageous position because its tourism sector is developing especially dynamically”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed. 265 thousand Americans stayed in Hungary last year and 600 thousand people-a-year fly between Hungary and North America. For instance, direct flights from Budapest to Montreal and Toronto operate at 92 percent capacity, which also indicates the high demand for direct flights to the North American continent.

In addition to economic negotiations, Hungary’s chief diplomat also signed an agreement with Mayor of Dallas Mike Rawlings on cooperation between universities in the Dallas conglomeration and their Hungarian counterparts and will be holding a lecture on current negotiations concerning the free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union.

“The European Union is losing more and more of its competitiveness and is falling behind in the interregional economic competition”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed, pointing to the fact that the United States has already concluded a free trade agreement with 11 states in the Pacific Ocean region. In contrast, negotiation on the free trade agreement with the European Union (officially called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP) are moving ahead very slowly.

“Red lines” do exist for Hungary at the negotiations, Mr. Szijjártó said, including keeping Hungary GMO-free and the role of chosen courts. “We do not want to give up these rights, but even so it is still possible to conclude an agreement that is ambitious”, Mr. Szijjártó told the press.

According to the Minister, Budapest would like negotiations between the United States and the European Union to reach a stage where what is good, what is acceptable and what is an element that requires changing in a potential agreement finally becomes clearer and recognisable.