PM Lee Hsien Loong held a Joint Press Conference with Hungarian PM Orbán Viktor at the Istana on 26 September 2017.
Good evening everybody. Welcome Prime Minister Orbán Viktor and his delegation to Singapore. We last met in 2014 at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan. I’m very happy this time to have the opportunity to welcome him to Singapore for his first official visit.
Prime Minister Orbán’s visit reaffirms the warm and growing friendship between Singapore and Hungary. We have had quite a few high-level exchanges in recent years. Then-President Tony Tan of Singapore made a State Visit to Hungary in November 2013. The Hungarian President János Áder visited Singapore in 2015. We welcomed the Hungarian Speaker of Parliament Lázsló Köver to Singapore in November 2014. Our President Halimah Yacob, then the Speaker of Parliament, made a reciprocal visit to Hungary in June 2015.
We had a good discussion with the Prime Minister on developments in Europe and Asia, and little bit on our bilateral relations. Very happy that our relations are growing steadily and our economic cooperation is increasing. Bilateral trade has grown rapidly and last year it exceeded S$1 billion.
The figure is still relatively modest, but both sides are keen to further economic cooperation, both bilaterally and regionally. Hungary provides an excellent gateway for Singapore and ASEAN to Central and Eastern Europe. Singapore is a trading and financial hub located in the middle of Southeast Asia, which Hungary should make full use of to access the growing ASEAN market. ASEAN, has a population of 630 million and a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion. It presents many economic opportunities for Hungary. Singapore can provide Hungarian businesses with a test bed for new technologies and products, and a launch pad to the whole of Southeast Asia, and beyond.
The Prime Minister and I also agreed that it is important for our countries to remain open to free trade. I thank him for Hungary’s support for the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) as well as the ratification of the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA). These agreements will further enrich our bilateral relations and underline our commitment to greater economic integration and trade liberalisation.
I am also pleased that our bilateral cooperation is broadening into other areas like aviation, education, science and research. This is reflected in the agreements during the Prime Minister’s visit, including the three which we just witnessed. The Bilateral Air Transport Agreement will enhance travel and tourism between our two countries. The MOU on Education Cooperation will open up new opportunities for student and university exchanges, in particular scholarships for Singaporeans to study in Hungary, for which we are grateful. The MOU between Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Food Chain Safety Office of Hungary will be a platform for cooperation in food safety.
These agreements will further strengthen bilateral relations and encourage greater people-to-people ties. I am confident that relations between Singapore and Hungary will grow from strength to strength. And we will continue to work closely to bring our two countries and our two regions closer together. Thank you.
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