Leaders of the Visegrad 4 (V4) group of countries – Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland – have invited South Korea’s industries to participate in the building of a high-speed railway project that would connect two capital cities in central Europe. Their overture took place in the context of the prime ministers’ V4 summit in Budapest, Hungary, where they hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who agreed on several memorandums of understanding covering finance, defence and bioscience with the Visegrad states, write centraleuropeantimes.com.
A high-speed railway connection that would connect Budapest to Warsaw would cut the 800 kilometre travel time, which can range 11-17 hours, by up to seven hours according to its proponents.
Calling a potential railway investment in the four central European nations the “largest common enterprise of the V4 countries”, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban noted that Korea already possessed the technology to enable the realization of such a project in the region. He added that in 2020 trade between the V4 and South Korea totalled USD 20 billion, a record.
South Korea’s trade volume with the Visegrad countries reached USD 16.8 billion last year despite the pandemic, according to South Korea’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs. The V4 countries also host numerous South Korean companies: major battery producers like Samsung, LG, and SK have set up production within the region and continue to expand.
In his remarks at the summit, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that more than 30% of South Korea’s exports end up in the V4 countries, highlighting the bilateral openness of their economies.
The summit in Budapest was the culmination of president Moon’s 9-day tour of Europe, including a stop-off at the COP 26 meeting in Scotland. Earlier this week, he signed another MOU on bilateral cooperation with Slovakia regarding a potential delivery of defence training aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. for USD 500 million.
Of the overall commitment to boost cooperation with the Visegrad countries, the Korean president’s official Twitter feed quoted him as saying: “Through the seven MOUs in the green, digital, biohealth and other sectors to be signed today, cooperation between our two sides will be further strengthened.”