At the opening of the ‘V4-Korea Business Forum’ the Prime Minister highlighted that they intend to elevate relations between Hungary and South Korea – that are cordial, good and friendly also at present – to a higher level, to a strategic level, and will extend them, in addition to the economy, to science, research and education as well.
He said for Hungarians South Korea is a mysterious country because it is hard to comprehend that a country that was among the poorest only 50 years ago is now able to produce the world’s 12th highest GDP. “When we finally managed to bring communism down, back in 1990, we ourselves hoped to find such a course for ourselves,” but thirty years have gone by, and we are not sure that we have found that course, he said, adding, however, that the performance that Korea has rendered in the past few decades is nothing short of admirable.
He recalled that in 2010 Hungary was effectively bankrupt, and when they won the elections, his first request to strategic advisors was to look into some success stories in order to determine the path that Hungary should set out on. He asked them to look into the stories of Singapore, Korea, the Czech Republic and Poland.
He highlighted that in connection with South Korea they noted that tradition and technology must be combined, that “family is not just important, but family is everything,” and that until we have strong families we will not have a strong economy either. We must create a workfare economy in which people keep studying throughout their lives, we need strong national awareness which finds expression in self-confidence, we must take advantage of our regional logistic features, we must have a vision, and we must make long-term plans, he listed, adding that these were the things back in 2010 that we tried to understand from Korea’s success, and to turn to our advantage.
The Prime Minister said today a new world order is unfolding equally in a political, economic and technological sense. The tempo of changes in the world economy is being dictated from the East, the largest projects in sectors undergoing revolutionary transformation are coming from the East, and the measure of what qualifies as competitive in the modern global world economy is also being increasingly set for us by Asian countries and large companies, he explained.
He said there is one international indicator in which both countries are in the top ten; it is true though that South Korea is in third place, while Hungary is ranked tenth. This is the Economic Complexity Index which is about the number of sources, the number of sectors that a country’s GDP is comprised of. This clearly shows that the economies of the V4 offer members of the Korean business community a wide variety of opportunities, he pointed out.
Regarding Hungarian-Korean economic relations, Mr Orbán said in the past ten years the volume of trade has increased ten-fold, even during the pandemic, it reached a record level, and this year, our trade volume will even exceed that of last year.
He said in Hungary South Koreans constitute the fourth largest investor community, and South Korea is also responsible for the previously completely unknown phenomenon that in 2019 most investments came to Hungary not from a Western country, but from Korea. At present, investments worth 4 billion dollars are being implemented, and there are ongoing negotiations about the launch of another 16 Korean investments, he added.
In the context of the situation in Europe, the Prime Minister said today “Europe is struggling,” in the past few years, it has lost its competitiveness, “we have lost it in the economy, we have lost it in efficiency, we’re also suffering from demographic ailments, and we must cope with security problems as well”.
He took the view that the whole of Europe is pondering a single question: how could the European Union regain the competitiveness that it had before the 2008 financial crisis? We are most certainly unable to regain our competitiveness in Europe with an economic policy that does not focus on how to enhance efficiency, he said.
He highlighted that this is why Hungary supports digitisation, the green economy, tax reduction and an even more open trade policy, but is unable to support protectionist ideas, tax increases, “and we are likewise unable to support socialistic ideas”.
According to Mr Orbán, “Korea is our friend, Korea will be of assistance to us” in our aspiration to regain Europe’s competitiveness. The wider and deeper cooperation is between Korea and the European Union, between Korea and the Visegrád Four (V4), between Korea and Hungary, the sooner the whole continent will regain its economic competitiveness in the world economy, the Prime Minister stated.