Hungary supports EU-Singapore free trade agreement

Channel News Asia, Singapore

Hungary supports EU-Singapore free trade agreement

14 November 2013

By Saifulbahri Ismail

BUDAPEST: Hungary has given its strong support for the early ratification of the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is in Budapest for a three-day state visit, thanked his Hungarian counterpart Janos Ader for his country’s support.

Dr Tan said both he and Mr Ader agreed that both countries should work together to ratify the agreement as soon as possible.

Both presidents were speaking to the media after their meeting on Tuesday.

Dr Tan was received by Mr Ader at Sandor Palace, the office of the Hungarian president. This was Dr Tan’s first state visit to Europe.

During their meeting, the two presidents discussed how economic ties between Singapore and Hungary can be strengthened.

Dr Tan said the EU-Singapore FTA is important to improve trade not only between Hungary and Singapore but also between Asia and Europe.

The FTA will be signed by both Singapore and the EU next year and will be presented to the European Parliament for ratification. It is expected to come into force in 2015.

Dr Tan said: "Some Singaporean companies have established plants in Hungary using Hungary as a gateway to Europe.

"I’m sure there is potential to further strengthen these bilateral ties and it’s good that we promote direct contact between the businessmen of Singapore and Hungary, because it is the private sector who will come up with viable schemes, and in this connection I think there is a great interest among Singapore companies to do even more in Hungary."

In 2012, Hungary was Singapore’s 14th largest trading partner in the European Union and ranked 57th globally.

Mr Ader said: "Hungary has been one of the primary partners of Singapore in this region, and despite the crisis in this region and the ups and downs of the crisis, the trade turnover has been continuously above US$1 billion over the past years."

Singapore and Hungary are also keen to cooperate further in academic research.

President Tan noted that Hungary has a distinguished record of discoveries in science. The country has already produced 14 Nobel Laureates in its history so far.

He hopes his visit would be followed by more exchanges between senior academics and researchers between the two countries, as well as in specific areas such as water management and sustainable development.

Dr Tan said one area which Singapore and Hungary can collaborate immediately is in tourism. He noted that Hungary has a great history and will be of interest for people in Asia. With the growing wealth in Asia, Hungary can be an exciting destination for them.

Dr Tan also met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover.

Earlier, Dr Tan visited the Heroes’ Square, where he laid a wreath.

The Heroes’ Square is a symbol of the country’s war and peace, as well as knowledge and glory.