08:02 GMT15 June 2021
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    Britain and Hungary's bilateral relationship could see a new turn, as the nations' leaders may be seeking a stronger economic partnership and mutually beneficial trade policies during their UK get-together.

    Ahead of Friday's meeting between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban, Britain's business minister voiced concerns over Orban's views on immigration.

    "We have to speak to all sorts of people, all sorts of leaders across the world, whose values we don't necessarily share. I think Viktor Orban's views on migrants are things that I would not endorse in any way", Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said in an interview on 28 May.

    Kwarteng added that Britain has to engage with the European Union and continue developing bilateral relations with EU members in the post-Brexit world.

    In turn, the Hungarian PM said on Friday that he lamented Britain's exit from the European Union.

    "We agreed on many things, which created a sort of balance in the EU", Orban told public radio. "We are weaker without them... But the question now is where their place will be in the world. We need to build a new bilateral cooperation".

    The UK-Hungary relationship went through ups and downs during Britain's years in the EU. Orban calling immigration "a poison" and speaking of "Muslim invaders" during the European migrant crisis in 2018 prompted Downing Street at the time to condemn the comments by the Hungarian prime minister. 

    Although, later that year Boris Johnson congratulated Orban on winning the elections in Hungary. 

    ​Despite the difference of views on immigration, both nations appear to be interested in maintaining and extending their economic partnership. 

    In 2018, UK Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands spoke in Budapest on Brexit and the UK's trading relationship with Hungary, saying:

    "... [we] will seek to increase access for exports, further liberalise the services sector and digital trade, whilst ensuring a high level of protection for consumers, the environment, employees, and public services", Hands said.

    He stressed the economic ties between London and Budapest, with the UK being the sixth-largest foreign investor in Hungary at the time, noting:

    "…and indeed Tesco is Hungary's largest private sector employer, with 20,000 employees, and sources their products from 1,650 Hungarian small and medium sized suppliers", the minister said.

    Downing Street has also stressed that it has no appetite for increased market barriers on either side of the UK-Hungarian partnership.

     

    Tags:
    immigration, Hungary, Boris Johnson, Viktor Orban
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