The fourth session of the Vietnamese-Hungarian Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation took place in Hanoi on October 31.

The event was co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Ho Thi Kim Thoa, who is head of Vietnam ’s sub-committee and Peter Szijjarto, Hungary ’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations and head of Hungary ’s sub-committee.

At their meeting, the two diplomats reviewed every aspect of bilateral cooperation since the third session, including diplomacy, trade, science and technology, education and training, natural resources and the environment.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Hungary reached 168 million USD in 2011, up 16.3 percent against the previous year. However, the figure reached only 80.3 million USD in the first eight months of this year, an annual drop of 53 percent, due to the global economic crisis.

Cooperation in health had a special significance to bilateral ties, which was marked by the signing of a contract between Can Tho city and the KESZ NOVOTRADING partnership, to build the Can Tho Tumour Hospital.

The two sides agreed to speed up negotiations between Vietnam ’s Finance Ministry and Hungary ’s Export-Import Bank in order to sign a credit agreement to fund the project before the Framework Credit Agreement expires on January 22, 2013.

They also reached a consensus on a number of specific measures to foster bilateral cooperation in the future, including starting new projects using the Hungarian Government’s conditional preferential credits for water supply projects in Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces and a population e-management project in Hai Phong City .

According to Thoa, both countries will increase cooperation in economics and direct investment. She added that Vietnam ’s Trade Promotion Agency (VIETTRADE) will open a representative office in Hungary to assist businesses in their import-export activities.

Szijjarto confirmed that with its foreign policy of “opening to the East”, Hungary sees Vietnam a strategic diplomatic partner and will boost cooperation with the country in various fields.

Hungary will back Vietnam in its negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU), he said.

During the meeting, a number of agreements were signed, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Hungarian Investment and Trade Agency and VIETTRADE, a contract between Vietnam ’s Ministry of Public Security and Hungary ’s Pointsystem House Company and a MoU between the two Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Both countries agreed to hold the fifth session of the joint committee in Hungary ’s capital Budapest. /.