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Oct 04, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Inspiring Hungary: showcasing one of Europe’s best performing economies

Inspiring Hungary, an exclusive conference organized this week by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency, showcased the achievements of the Hungarian economic model – increased foreign investment, more jobs, higher wages – and provided a networking platform for actors engaged in the country’s key economic sectors. Here are some of the takeaways.

“Open, global, and free trade is in Hungary’s interest,” said Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in his opening, keynote address. Last year, he added, some EUR 4.3 billion of foreign direct investment created some 17,000 new jobs.

“This year we’re doing even better,” the minister continued. “So far, we have already received EUR 2.4 billion in investment.”

Emphasizing the significance of Hungary and the Visegrád Four economies, Szijjártó reminded the audience that in 2018 trade volumes between Germany and the V4 exceeded the import-export figures between Germany and France by 75 percent. What’s more, Hungarians returning from abroad last year have outnumbered those that left – the reason, according to the foreign and trade minister, lies in the fact that during the last nine years, net wages in Hungary have grown by a staggering 70 percent.

While FM Szijjártó put trade volumes into perspective, Finance Minister Mihály Varga compared the country’s vigorous, 5.2 percent GDP growth in Q2 2019 to the EU average.

“With this [5.2 percent] growth rate, Hungary outperformed the EU average by nearly four times,” Varga said. In his view, Hungary will remain an attractive investment destination for the foreseeable future due to its robust expansion rate, low taxes, and consistent, dependable economic policy.

Once on the edge of bankruptcy prior to the arrival of the Orbán Government in 2010, Hungary’s economic and business ecosystem have made the country a target destination for international companies involved in dynamic, future-proof investment endeavors.

Shifting the focus of the discussion in his address, Innovation and Technology Minister László Palkovics outlined the concept of building a “Smart Hungary.”

“Scientific, research, and innovation capabilities should be focused on sectors in which the country particularly excels,” he said, naming the creative industry as one such arena, an industry that employs 4 percent of Hungarians and makes up 6.5 percent of the country’s annual GDP. Already known for advanced manufacturing, a highly skilled workforce, and recognized university research centers, the Hungarian government remains committed to furthering Hungary’s innovation in order to better attract foreign investment, both in the capital of Budapest and in rural areas as well.

“Those who invest in Hungarian creativity will win,” Palkovics said.

In the halls of the breathtaking Pesti Vigadó building in the heart of downtown Budapest, the Inspiring Hungary conference gathered stakeholders and top decision-makers from key sectors of the Hungarian economy and explored new opportunities for further development.