ARUN CHAUDHARY : Recharging Nepal-Hungary Diplomatic ties

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ARUN CHAUDHARY : Recharging Nepal-Hungary Diplomatic ties

After the 1951 mass revolution that brought a new era to Nepalese politics, opening its doors to the world, Nepal extended its diplomatic ties worldwide. Hungary was among the first few countries that Nepal established bilateral relationships with in the first decade of democracy. On January 15, 1961 Nepal declared formal diplomatic ties with Hungary, and the then late King Mahendra paid an unofficial visit to Hungary in 1967. Likewise, his successor, late King Birendra, also visited Hungary in 1968. On February 28, 2017, Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, met each other and during that meeting, the Government of the Republic of Hungary agreed to provide loan assistance of 100 million euros at an interest rate less than 1% to Nepal under its Line of Credit.

Currently, the Nepalese Embassy in Germany is accredited to Hungary, and the residential Embassy of Hungary in New Delhi is accredited to Nepal. The Honorary Consulate of Hungary was established in Kathmandu and Arun K Chaudhary, Chairman of CG Holdings, was sworn in under oath as the Honorary Consul of Hungary to Nepal on  December 4, 2014 at the Hungarian Embassy in New Delhi. On July 25, 2021, Chaudhary was promoted to Honorary Consul General of Hungary to Nepal in the presence of Hungarian Ambassador to Nepal András László Király.

The relations between the two countries have always been cordial based on goodwill, trust and mutual respect, shares Chaudhary. Chaudhary adds that the two sides have exchanged views on the possibilities of exchanging cooperation in the fields of tourism, employment, education and also in the fields of energy and infrastructure development.

Despite decades of diplomatic ties, the volume of trade between the two nations still remains at a modest level. Nepal exports apparel and accessories, arts, textile articles and metal items, while it imports pharmaceutical products, machinery and mechanical appliances, dying and tannins, and chemical products from Hungary.

According to Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), Nepal imported goods worth USD 892,062 and USD 373,674 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Likewise, Nepal's exports stood at USD 476,327 and USD 182,751 during the corresponding period.

Chaudhary adds that Nepal has the potential to export goods to Hungary. However, a niche market has to be identified by the Nepali entrepreneurs otherwise because of the sheer price factor anything and everything can not be exported to Hungary.

Nepal has remained a favoured place of travel for the citizens of the European nations, including Hungary. Hungarians come here for mountaineering and other adventure activities. Although the number of tourists at present remains low, the potential for promoting Nepal’s tourism market in Hungary remains high. So, our tourism businesses need to do a roadshow in order to highlight what Nepal has to offer, Chaudhary suggests.

According to Chaudhary, Nepal and Hungary have many commonalities. Both the nations are landlocked and are rich in art, folk culture, and natural landscape. Nepal has huge potential to lure Hungarian tourists, as the youths are into adventure and adults enjoy culture and history.

With eight out of 10 highest peaks of the world situated in Nepal and our century-long history, we have the best of adventure and history that Hungarians might have interest in. However, we have to improve our basic infrastructure to get the best and attract high spending tourists into the country, opines Chaudhary.   

Like trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) from Hungaria in Nepal in 61 years of diplomatic ties has been nominal. Nepal has to make more FDI friendly policies. However, Chaudhary adds that our focus should be on how we could promote our agro, hydro, and tourism sectors which are the backbone of Nepal's economy and have immense potential to attract FDIs. “All we need is a detailed action plan to be formulated involving all stakeholders. If we are able to do that then it will surely help in reducing the balance of payment issue in the country,” he adds.

Since his appointment as the Honorary Consul General of Hungary in Nepal, Chaudhary has remained focused on strengthening the bilateral ties between the two countries through different activities. Chaudhary's priority is on strengthening government-to-government ties, while boosting business-to-business activities.

As an Honorary Consul General of Hungary, Chaudhary’s focus has also been on motivating entrepreneurs and investors and establishing trust and communication. My office has prioritised facilitating meetings and networking between Hungarian and Nepali investors and entrepreneurs. The Honorary Consul General’s office also offers free information on trade and tourism to interested visitors, he shares.

Chaudhary is also a member of the Honorary Consular Corps Nepal (HCC-N), an association of Consuls & Consul Generals formed in 2007 to work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other diplomatic missions in Nepal. Chaudhary shares that members of HCC-N have been working vigorously to develop economic diplomacy with their respective represented nations.

Likewise, Chaudhary shares that Honorary Consuls and Consul Generals can collaborate to help the government to bolster bilateral cooperation and economic ties with other countries. However, the government needs to introduce relevant trade and investment policies to support economic diplomacy efforts. Impactful and strategic diplomacy is only possible with tactful policies, Chaudhary adds.

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