The Hungarian Connection
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Callum Holliday and Alice Rennison Read : 941 Date : Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 05:22:10


    It may surprise some to learn that Hungary is Indonesia’s seventh-largest trading partner from Eastern and Central Europe. In 2015, trade between the two countries was valued at $103 million, with Indonesia having a small trade surplus—good news for the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration’s goal to raise exports.

    Those trade figures look set to rise after a three-day visit by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to Indonesia from February 1. To show the importance of Indonesia to the country, Viktor brought with him a delegation that included five cabinet ministers and 47 entrepreneurs who were there to scout opportunities and network during their visit.

    During visit, Viktor and Jokowi talked about increasing bilateral relations and investment opportunities between their countries. The emphasis of the talks was on trade and investment. Indonesia would potentially benefit from Hungary’s expertise in renewable energy and water management. The landlocked Hungary will be looking to take advantage of Indonesia’s potential as a maritime powerhouse, with its expanding fishery industry. “It’s the right time for Hungary to get closer to Indonesia, in terms of political leadership and the people,” Viktor was quoted as saying. Jokowi expressed similar sentiments. “We expect to improve the cooperation between both countries,” Jokowi was quoted as saying.

    Renewable energy was a focal point during meetings, with Hungary pledging to invest in renewable energy in Indonesia, including a $20 million development project in solar energy for North Sumatra—a welcome boost to Jokowi’s clean energy initiatives. Water management also played a role, as many Indonesians lack access to quality water supplies. Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó was reported to have said Hungarian companies signed $38 million worth of agreements in Indonesia, the most important contract being one for the Budapest Water Works to build water treatment systems in 34 Indonesian localities. One of the biggest issues that all municipals of Indonesia is the poor quality of drinking water in Indonesia.

    Among the agreements signed was a memorandum for the countries to cooperate in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Indonesia is one of the largest aquaculture producers in the world. After signing the memorandum, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti was reported to have said that Indonesia would explore an opportunity to expand maritime-trade with Hungary: “We want to expand our fisheries market there.” Indonesia exported $245 million by October 2015 in fishery products and imported $13 million in fishery products.