UAE and Hungary sign five initial agreements in sectors from space to trade

The countries will develop co-operation programmes in nine main sectors including agriculture, food security and water management

Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, and Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, met during the third Joint Economic Committee. Photo: Ministry of Economy
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The UAE and Hungary signed five preliminary agreements for economic co-operation on space research and activities, commerce and industry, education, water management and boosting mutual investments.

In their third session of the Joint Economic Committee, on Wednesday, the countries also agreed to develop economic co-operation programmes in nine main tracks to further boost their trade partnership, the Emirates’ Ministry of Economy said.

The areas of co-operation include trade and investment, agriculture and food security, water management, energy and renewables, tourism and culture, logistics and supply, research and technology development, space research and exploration and education.

“We know that the economy after Covid-19 has changed and we need to diversify the economy,” Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, told reporters after the committee meeting at the ministry’s headquarters.

The UAE, the commercial and trading centre of the Middle East, has maintained a strong trade momentum despite pandemic-induced headwinds. The Arab world’s second-largest economy has been strengthening its relationship with vital trading partners as the global economy and trade flows recover. The Emirates launched trade negotiations with Georgia, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Israel and the UK last year.

The UAE is the largest Arab trading partner of Hungary, accounting for 22 per cent of the Central European country’s total trade with the Arab nations in 2020, according to the UAE Ministry of Economy. The two countries are aiming to boost this partnership through co-operation in various priority sectors.

Last year, the value of non-oil foreign trade between the Emirates and Hungary amounted to Dh2 billion ($544 million), with a growth of 1 per cent compared with 2020, and 26 per cent compared with 2019, despite the pandemic.

The volume of mutual investments between the two countries amounted to about Dh4bn, the ministry said.

“We look at the Gulf area as a region which offers huge opportunities for Hungary, both when it comes to foreign political aspects and economic aspects,” Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said.

“When I speak about the Gulf area I have to say the UAE is the country which is at the highest point on our radar screen,” he said.

The UAE’s economic reforms offer a “good possibility” for tech-driven Hungarian companies seeking new markets, he added.

During the committee meeting, the two countries agreed to support joint efforts and explore opportunities for co-operation in culture, education, science, technology, innovation and art.

They also agreed to explore co-operation in sustainable transport and in transport sector capacity building.

UAE and Hungary also agreed to strengthen digital transformation, research and development, innovation, intellectual property and patents. They said they will also promote the establishment of SMEs and start-ups in the fields of science, technology and innovation.

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We look at the Gulf area as a region which offers huge opportunities for Hungary, both when it comes to foreign political aspects and economic aspects
Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The two countries signed initial agreements to strengthen co-operation in space research and exploration and to boost co-operation in education and academics.

On the sidelines of the press briefing, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said that one of the themes discussed during the meeting included investments in the energy sector and direct contact between Adnoc and Hungarian oil companies.

“We also spoke about the aviation sector and benefiting from Hungary as a transit hub for fifth freedom traffic rights,” he said. “We will explore with our partners how we can do this in a way that adds economic and trade value for these investments.”

“They are inviting our companies to capitalise on that [fifth freedom rights] and it’s already open skies agreement between us and them ... it just needs activation, so we have to pass this to our [national] airlines to look at that.”

Updated: February 16, 2022, 5:40 PM