At the opening event, attended by its host Chinese President Xi Jinping and several other heads of state and government, the Prime Minister said that one may ask why Hungary came to be among the “giants” invited to the Shanghai Expo. The answer to this, he said, is that Hungary is not simply representing itself, but also Central Europe as a whole; he declared that “when you hear the voice of Hungary, you also hear the voice of the entire region”, which has become Europe’s growth engine.
In his speech Mr. Orbán observed that Central Europe’s growth rate is twice that of the European average, and that the broad consensus is that in the future the region will continue to be the source of European growth.
He drew attention to the fact that the Central European countries’ congruent economic and social policies have guaranteed that – even under the significant pressure of illegal migration – these countries have been able to preserve their own national, political and cultural identities.
The Prime Minister stressed that China also acknowledged the growth of Central Europe when it established the 16+1 group: the cooperative formation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries. Hungary is committed to strengthening this platform, he stated, and he pointed out that the meeting of the group’s central bank governors will take place in Budapest in the near future.
Mr. Orbán also said that Hungary has always supported the freest and most equal world trade network possible, and has always been a supporter of Eurasian cooperation. For this reason it has an interest in the success of the One Belt, One Road initiative, he stressed.
The Prime Minister said that he highly values the presence of Chinese companies in Hungary. He mentioned several of these, including Huawei, Wanhua and Bank of China, which has opened its regional centre in Budapest.
He went on to say that these Chinese companies have also contributed to achieving what is, in effect, full employment in Hungary, and that they are playing a major role in keeping long-term growth in the Hungarian economy above 4 per cent.
Mr. Orbán declared that Hungary is proud that the volume of its exports to China is the region’s highest, with increasing amounts of Hungarian technological, pharmaceutical and food industry products present on the Chinese market. After last year’s record export data, he added, this year there has been another 18 per cent increase in trade between the two countries.
The Prime Minister observed that in Shanghai on Tuesday the Hungarian and Chinese delegations will conclude several business agreements, including in the fields of the dairy industry, innovative energy and water management.
After the opening event Mr. Orbán viewed selected pavilions at the Expo in the company of the Chinese head of state and heads of delegation from the countries in attendance.
The other members of the Hungarian government delegation visiting the Shanghai Expo are Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics and Minister of Agriculture István Nagy.
More than 130 countries and regions – including Hungary – are represented at the Expo. Some 2,800 companies are exhibiting at the event, which will last until 10 November. In addition to Hungary, the other foreign guests of honour at the Expo are Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.