Dec 02, 2016

Being inventive has led to Hungary's economic resurgence

Hungary’s economic gains have been impressive in recent years due to the country’s ability to provide the technical talent sought by multinational companies

Hungary has few natural resources, but its vibrant economy means we don't have to rely on them, László Szabó, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has said.

The minister made the comments during a luncheon of the World Trade Center in Atlanta this week, according to

Minister Szabó led a delegation of Hungarian officials to Atlanta where it met with business executives from local companies with a presence in Hungary and officials of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the World Trade Center and state government.

Hungary’s economic gains have been impressive in recent years, he said, due especially to the country’s ability to provide the technical talent sought by multinational companies.

Foreign direct investment into Hungary was at the highest level ever last year, he said, “and it’s now tripling even that number.” In Eastern and Central Europe, Hungary trails only the Czech Republic in terms of foreign investment.

“We used to worry about how to find people for jobs,” he added, with the unemployment rate dropping from 11 percent at the time of the 2007-08 economic crisis to 6.2 percent last year. “Six years ago we had people looking for jobs, but today we have jobs looking for people.”

He recalled that before its current government came into power in 2010, Hungary’s economy was worse off than Greece, which also had a huge national debt.

“Basically we decided to go unconventional by boosting the economy and not overextending the budget or national debt,” he said. The government lowered corporate taxes – a corporate rate of 9 percent is to go into effect in January – and increased consumption taxes.

Foreign investment was encouraged by streamlining the process of acquiring business licenses, a procedure that in the past took six to eight months and involved three government ministries now only requiring the approval of one ministry in two weeks or less.

At the heart of Hungary’s economic advances has been its inventiveness, he said. The contributions of native Hungarians to the film industry in the U.S. through the creation of film studios such as Paramount and Universal as well as movie directors and actors has helped. Hungary is in the process of building the largest film studio in the world, he added.

Minister Szabo also cited the country’s commitment to having the third highest speed internet trailing only those of Singapore and South Korea, being on the cutting edge of developing autonomous driving vehicles and having the first test track in the European Union for these vehicles.