Hungary urges the European Union to sign as many free trade agreements as possible in the coming period, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, mentionned during a break during a meeting with his European counterparts in Brussels on Thursday.
Speaking to Hungarian journalists, Szijjártó said the EU should forget about “political preconditions” when it comes to signing trade deals, arguing that “there is no point”. The EU should not confuse trade and the economy with issues that have nothing to do with either, he added.
Hungary is pushing for the bloc to start close institutional cooperation with the Far East Free Trade Area, Szijjártó said. Losing the opportunity to cooperate with this trade bloc would cost the EU dear and could also affect the turnover of its member states, he added.
“Urgent action is urgently needed to restore the EU’s former weight in the global economy and global trade,” he said. This is all the more important for Hungary, whose exports accounted for over 83% of GDP last year, the 11th highest rate in the world.
Szijjártó said that a new world economic and trade order had emerged, which he attributed to three factors. First, the pandemic caused a 9.2% drop in world trade last year. Second, the largest free trade area of all time, an area of 15 nations accounting for 30% of world trade and 28% of the world’s population, was established in the Far East. And third, the East has caught up with the West in terms of technology and finance, which has resulted in an eastward shift in world trade.
Over the past 20 years, the EU’s share of global GDP has increased from 24% to 18% because the EU has started to overload its trade agreements with clauses “that have nothing to do with cooperation. economic and trade, ”Szijjártó said.
Establishing political, gender and human rights preconditions for trade deals will create a situation where there will be no one left with whom to make a deal, he said, adding that the practice should be abandoned.
Photo illustration presented by Mátyás Borsos / Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade