Business / Economy

Orban welcomes investment in Hungary

By Li Xiaokun and Zhou Wa (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-14 07:00

Major companies asked to lead way in establishing areas of cooperation

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivered a passionate speech on Thursday inviting Chinese investment in his country and asking larger Chinese companies to lead the way.

Orban, who is on a three-day visit to China, made the remarks at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Hungary has the most advanced technology in the world in many areas ... but we are lacking economic resources," Orban said, citing sectors including wastewater treatment, environmental protection and medicine.

"We will reach our objectives if we can cooperate with China in these areas," he said.

"Hungary's cooperation with major Chinese companies, such as ZTE and Bank of China, can serve as lighthouses," lighting the way for more small and medium-sized Chinese companies.

During his trip to the head office of Bank of China on Wednesday, Orban said his administration has approved an application by the bank to establish a branch office in Hungary, making BOC the first Chinese bank to build a branch network in Hungary.

Tian Guoli, chairman of BOC, said his bank hopes to establish a Central and Eastern European financial center in Hungary. As the renminbi goes global, BOC is seeking to become the clearing bank for RMB business in Hungary.

ZTE, China's second-largest telecom equipment vendor, announced in 2012 that it would set up its European regional network operation center in Hungary, thus improving its overall delivery capacity in Europe and providing management services for European telecom operators.

Orban also expected China to play a big role in infrastructure construction in Central and Eastern European countries, where foreign investment is in great demand.

President Xi Jinping said later on Thursday, when meeting Orban at the Great Hall of the People, that the two countries should focus on the finance, telecom, infrastructure construction and high-tech industries.

Orban said Budapest expects to boost high-level exchanges with Beijing and continue the relationship of mutual support.

Cui Hongjian, a European studies researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said the development of Central and Eastern European countries, including Hungary, used to depend more on Western Europe.

"But now, the debt crisis has impacted Hungary's economy. Budapest is concerned about becoming further burdened if the eurozone's economic reforms fail to achieve their targets. So it needs partners outside the region, such as China," Cui said.

"Hungary wants to strike a balance between Western Europe and China and benefit from both sides. Of course, the best situation will benefit all three parties."

When asked during the CASS speech if Hungary has a timetable for joining the eurozone, Orban said "No".

He said his country would not consider the idea before its real economy is running almost parallel with the most developed European nations. Also, the Hungarian constitution would require the support of two-thirds of parliament in a vote before joining the zone.

He added that if the euro becomes destabilized, Europe would lose its competitiveness.

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