Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said an "important task" for the international community "is to maintain order at sea across the world, such as ensuring free navigation and trade".
Speaking at a press conference held on the sidelines of a meeting of trade ministers of the EU in Brussels on Tuesday, the foreign minister added that steps by the international community should not lead to “an escalation of the security threat … or else it could result in a vicious cycle.” Minister Szijjártó said freedom in global trade and “undisturbed procedures” were especially important for Hungary. “Security threats impact the freedom of trade in the first place, while political-ideological threats could impediment the free flow of investments,” the minister said. The freedom of trade is impacted at the Red Sea, he said, adding that “it demonstrates the vulnerability of global supply chains, which could be compromised by armed conflicts at any part of the world.” The situation at the Red Sea and the resulting delays in shipments of goods from the East to Europe “demonstrates this interdependence because it impacts the European economy, leading to the temporary closure of businesses while jeopardising jobs,” he said.
The foreign minister added that Western Europeans are mounting legal and political attacks in an attempt to undermine central Europe’s competitive edge, insisting they were envious of CEE countries’ ability to attract investments from the East. “Security threats largely undermine free trade, while political and ideological attacks threaten the free flow of investments”, affecting export economies like Hungary’s, Minister Szijjártó 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. Minister Szijjártó 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 economic 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, Szijjártó added, did not take the nationality of a company’s owners into consideration, only that it should comply with Hungarian laws.