Official delegation photo of the 2nd Philippines-Hungary Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation
Official delegation photo of the 2nd Philippines-Hungary Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation

The Second Session of the Philippine-Hungarian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation was held in Makati City, Metro Manila on 3-4 December 2020. The Philippine delegation was headed by H.E. Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy of the Department of Trade and Industry of the Republic of the Philippines and Co-Chair of the Philippine Side of the Commission.  

The Hungarian delegation was headed by H.E. István Joó, Deputy State Secretary for Export Development of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary and Co-Chair of the Hungarian Side of the Commission.  

The bilateral relations between the Republic of the Philippines and Hungary have improved largely since the reopening of the Embassy of Hungary in Manila. The mutual high-level visits between the two countries, most recently by H.E. Mr. Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary on 15 October 2020 to Manila, have given a significant boost to relations between the two countries. 

During the 2nd Session of the JCEC, both sides exchanged information on the economic development and economic policies being implemented in each country and how the Philippines and Hungary could coordinate their efforts to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to build back better in a post-pandemic scenario. They underscored their desire to find practical, feasible, and effective ways and means that could expand the cooperation between the Philippines and Hungary. 

After the official meetings, the following agreements were signed: Memorandum of Understanding between the Food and Drug Administration of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Agriculture of Hungary on Cooperation in the Field of Food Safety;  Memorandum of Understanding between the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council of the Office of Civil Defense and the Hungarian Water Technology Corporation Ltd.; and Strategic Cooperation of Undertaking between the Laguna Lake Development Authority and Hungarian Water Technology Corporation Ltd.

Both sides highlighted the possibility of collaboration among the startups of the countries and welcomed the initiative of the private sectors considering the discussion among the relevant actors. Both sides also recognized the importance of enhancing bilateral trade and investment flows and strengthening technical cooperation in light of the current pandemic.  

To this end, the Philippine Side presented opportunities in pharmaceuticals, PPE-manufacturing, and medical devices. Specific cooperation initiatives in the field of electronics were also presented such as collaboration in integrated circuit (IC) design and establishment of closer relations between Philippine and Hungarian electronics industry associations.  

Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said, “The Department of Trade and Industry sees the JCEC as an important platform for the Philippines to enhance engagement with non-traditional partners. This will also lay the building block to progress our FTA talks with the EU and further improve the utilization of our GSP preferences. As we face the task of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to foster synergies based on each other’s strengths and our shared interests in a number of areas such as manufacturing because we see Hungary as a source of innovation-driven products. We invite Hungarian companies to use the Philippines as their base for expanding their operations in Southeast Asia and we will be more than happy to assist them in this process.” 

“It is our utmost pleasure that we were able to organize the second Session of the Philippine-Hungarian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation in person despite the barriers put up by the coronavirus, showing how both of our countries are determined to enhance bilateral economic cooperation. Hungary is ready to offer its expertise in a number of different fields including; water management, agriculture, education, health, culture, sport, transportation, and energy as well as helping the Philippine people in a time of need by providing emergency aid assistance. I firmly believe that the Joint Commission format provides a great platform for effective and continuous cooperation, and brings together governments and businesses with their counterparts.” Said Deputy State Secretary Joó during the meeting of the JCEC.

The two delegations likewise discussed new prospective projects for tied aid cooperation. During the meetings, there was a strong emphasis on the importance of mutually enhanced investment activity, which is indispensable for further developing bilateral economic relations.

Specifically, the Hungarian Side is ready for cooperation on water management between the appropriate ministries and institutions with special regard to the exchange of information and experience. Highlighted were the fields of integrated river basin management, planning, drinking, and wastewater management to mitigate the negative water-related effects of climate change, including those related to droughts and water scarcity; flood management, water resource management, transboundary cooperation as well as water-related education.  

The field of agriculture was identified as a promising sector for cooperation, especially in animal husbandry and rice and crop biotechnology research, with many projects already in the pipeline. 

Further bilateral cooperation will be promoted in the field of transportation, health, as well as information and communication technologies, and digitalization for faster recovery of economic growth and societal progress after the COVID-19 pandemic. New areas for possible cooperation have likewise been identified such as energy, environment and biodiversity, and dual vocational education and training.  

Both sides agreed to hold the Third Session of the Commission in Budapest.♦

Date of Release: 7 December 2020