Hungary’s foreign minister has said that cooperation with Australia provides significant advantages for the Visegrád Group in terms of competitiveness.
Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, made the remarks following a ministerial meeting of the V4 and Australia in Budapest on Friday.
The minister said the Visegrád countries, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, have become an engine of growth in Europe, with the axis of the European economy shifting eastward. This trend is also signalled by the attention Australia is now paying to the region, he added.
The Visegrád Group supports the idea that free trade talks between the European Union and Australia should start as soon as possible, the minister said.
The group therefore backs the Bulgarian EU-presidency’s plan to make a decision in late February so that the talks can begin in the spring, he added.
The minister said the automotive industry and agriculture are the main focus of cooperation with Australia for the Visegrád group. He added that R+D+I are further priorities.
The meeting was the first on ministerial level between the V4 and Australia, with talks between foreign ministers scheduled for February, Minister Szijjártó said.
Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment Steven Ciobo said his country aims to strengthen ties with Europe and the V4 group in trade, investment and economics. A free trade agreement with the bloc would be instrumental, he said. He added that Australia would also welcome cooperation with the Visegrád group in research and innovation.