ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called for stronger ties with Hungary as Budapest announced an $84 million credit line for Hungarian companies interested in doing business with Pakistan.
Mr Khan, while talking to Hungary’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, who is visiting Pakistan along with a delegation of 17 businessmen, said there was a need to develop strong bilateral economic ties.
He said the two countries can cooperate in trade, energy, water resource management, food and agriculture, science and technology, and higher education.
Budapest announced an exclusive credit line of $84m for Hungarian companies to do business with Pakistan, the Foreign Office said.
It would include a loan facility of $50m for projects in fisheries and food processing. Mr Khan urged the Hungarian business community to take advantage of the business-friendly climate of Pakistan and invest here.
200 scholarships will be given annually to Pakistani students to study in Hungary
Foreign Minister Szijjártó said the business delegation accompanying him for exploring business opportunities in Pakistan manifested Hungary’s growing economic ties with Pakistan.
Pakistani and Hungarian companies, earlier during the day, signed business agreements in the fields of dairy, pharmaceuticals and cyber security. The signing of the agreements was witnessed by the two foreign ministers.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Hungarian counterpart held talks at the Foreign Office in which they reviewed bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues.
They explored ways to deepen cooperation in different areas. The two ministers, the FO said, agreed to work together to forge a strong bilateral economic partnership.
Speaking at the Pakistan-Hungary Economic Diplomacy event, the two foreign ministers encouraged the business community of both countries to enhance mutual collaboration.
Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s economic security paradigm and underlined the shifting focus from geo-politics to geo-economics.
An MoU on Cooperation within the Framework of the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme 2020-22 was signed between the two sides, under which the Hungarian Government will provide 200 scholarships annually to Pakistani students to study in Hungary.
The two countries also agreed to work towards establishment of direct airlink.
The two countries reiterated the commitment of continuous engagement to enhance economic cooperation, bilateral trade and investment.
The understanding was reached during a meeting between the Hungarian team, led by Mr Szijjarto, and Commerce and Investment Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood. Matters pertaining to bilateral trade and investment came under discussion. The Hungarian side apprised the adviser of $50m Tied Aid Credit Facility for cooperation in agriculture sector, particularly in agro and food processing.
This may prove to be a fruitful opportunity, which could be mutually beneficial to both the countries. The Hungarian side showed interest in bilateral cooperation in railways, cyber security, agro & food processing, dairy & livestock and fisheries sectors.
Mr Szijjarto conveyed that the Exim Bank of Hungary has a preferential credit line of $84m to promote business-to-business cooperation between Pakistani and Hungarian companies. He further indicated the plan of initiating a direct flight by the Hungarian airlines between Pakistan and Hungary.
Mr Peter indicated the necessity of concluding an agreement on the mutual protection of bilateral investment and expressed the hope that this would encourage many Hungarian companies to invest in Pakistan. Mr Razak appreciated the Hungarian investment in oil and gas sector and indicated opportunities for agro and food processing, water conservation, information technology, engineering and manufacturing sector for investment.
He apprised the visiting delegation of various initiatives Pakistan has embarked upon to enhance regional connectivity. Being a member of TIR Convention Pakistan is also upgrading the rail and road infrastructure link to enhance regional connectivity particularly with China, Afghanistan& Central Asian Republics.
The adviser said for enhancing regional connectivity and to have access to Central Asian Republics, Pakistan has filed a joint appeal with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in World Bank and other IFIs for development of Trans-Afghan Railway.
He also emphasised the importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a Flagship infrastructure project which aims at promoting regional connectivity through Gwadar Port.
Mubarak Zeb Khan also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2021