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May 31, 2017

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the inauguration of the new Samsung factory

29 May 2017, Göd

Honourable President, Director, Honourable Vice-Presidents, Your Excellency, Honourable Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been given five minutes, but I am not as disciplined as the Koreans, so I wish to apologise to you in advance. Here today I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about Hungarian industrial policy. But first let me tell you about a memory of mine from 2002, when I had the chance to attend a football match in South Korea. I asked my interpreter what the admirable Korean supporters were chanting, and he told me that they were chanting: “We the great Han people!” This shook me a little, because I had always believed that we were that people. At any rate, this little cultural incident clearly demonstrates that our two nations have some common roots. The historical and academic foundations of these roots may well be called into question from time to time, but there is a common cultural and mythological background to cooperation between Koreans and Hungarians which permits us to do business which is not only profitable, but also good-natured. I would also like to thank Member of Parliament Bence Tuzson, who has mobilised all his resources to support implementation of this project here, right from the moment of its conception.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I look around at the greying heads here, I see that there are quite a few of us who are old enough to remember that at the beginning of the nineties, after socialism was dismantled, the world finally opened up to us, and overnight we gained wide access to the products of the market economy. We became familiar with new brands, but this new familiarity has disadvantages as well as advantages: it soon emerged that the market economy is no guarantee of quality; but we also learnt that if we saw the words “Made in South Korea” on a product, we could be assured that it was of excellent quality. Anyone who wanted to buy a good television set quickly learnt the word Samsung. Korea and Korean companies have been symbols of quality and innovation ever since. But beyond this, South Korea is also important for Hungary as a model and an example. It is proof of the fact that with hard work, precision and creativity it is possible to penetrate the world market and to become a leading player.

What Korea has achieved on the world market is a breathtaking success story. Nowadays it is hard to imagine that Samsung – a world brand and a multinational group employing more than half a million people worldwide – was founded in 1938 as a small retail business with just thirty thousand won in assets. For us Hungarians, Korea and Samsung are a living example and a warning that the operation of the world economy is not one in which the cards are dealt out only once, with those coming later to the table only being able to watch in awe of the others. We Hungarians must learn that in the market economy the cards are continually being redealt. This is something that we, too, should understand. And I see some good signs. From what I can see, in Hungary the tendency for self-pity is on the wane, and is slowly going out of fashion. Hungarian businesses and Hungarian brands are successfully holding their own in the international arena. We can see that certain regions and countries are emerging, while others are losing some of their strength. South Korea is among the countries which are currently dictating the pace to the world, but we Central Europeans also have no reason to feel ashamed. Everyone can see that we are among the aspiring, emerging regions: our gross domestic product is increasing, investment is plentiful, wages are on the up, and unemployment is slowly disappearing.

Of course, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President, as we are Hungarians we must pursue our own path. The success of South Korea requires the people of South Korea. Korea has become this successful because, while it has learnt from others, it has always pursued its own path. This is also a good lesson for us Hungarians. We Hungarians are proud of the fact that South Korea is our third most important trade partner in Asia. We are also proud of the fact that we have concluded strategic partnership agreements with two Korean companies. To sum up, over the past sixty years Korea has performed an economic miracle, and this miracle has reappeared here, in Göd. We wish to thank Samsung’s decision-makers for having chosen Hungary and Göd again, as soon as the market situation made it possible.

Honourable People of Göd,

We can tell residents here – your town and the people who live here, and their families – that their future is guaranteed. The route here was not an easy one, and a number of countries would have been happy to host this project, but the negotiations also showed us that Samsung insists on its links to Göd, and the town is also committed to the company. At the same time the Hungarian government has taken the view that if the horses are pulling in the same direction there is a chance of success, and we therefore decided to support this project. I believe that together with Samsung we’ve found the path and the industrial sector through which for many years to come – decades even – we’ll be able to provide work, a living and therefore security for families living here. We are trebling the number of jobs that were available here before; when this Samsung plant reaches peak production it will be employing six hundred people. At the same time, thousands will be provided with jobs and livelihoods through suppliers and business partners. Major developments will also be implemented in the town of Göd. For instance, the main traffic route – Ady Endre út – will be fully renewed. And there is one other thing I should mention, as not only is a company returning here to you, but with this project the future is moving into Göd. Please remember that a few years ago television screens were being manufactured here. Thanks to the project which has now been completed from a budget of some one hundred billion forints, you will be making batteries for the best car manufacturers’ electric vehicles. Today we can see that all European car manufacturers are rapidly developing their electric cars; these cars need excellent batteries – just like the ones that you will be making here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President,

Hungarian industry is going through some important times. In 2010 we started Hungary’s re-industrialisation, and in 2017 we are stepping up to a higher level. In Hungary in the first quarter of 2017 the number of people working in vehicle manufacturing was over 160,000. We have turned Hungary into one of Central Europe’s automotive industry centres, and we are now on course to become one of the region’s vehicle development centres and a front-runner in electric vehicles. The future is autonomous cars and electric vehicles, and in both areas Hungary has joined the vanguard. We have just laid the foundation stone of the Zalaegerszeg test track, which will also be suitable for testing autonomous cars. In two weeks’ time the production of electromotors and the new Q3 model – followed by the Q4 – will begin in Audi’s Győr factory. And today we are here to open Samsung’s factory, where the test production of new electric batteries can begin as early as tomorrow. With these new projects we will no longer just be manufacturing cars, but we will become a country where the cars of the future will be envisioned, built and tested. We have opened our gates to the use of electric cars. At present, there are 130 charging stations in Hungary, and in August, as part of the Jedlik Plan, another one thousand charging stations will be set up. This means that the municipality of every settlement with a population of more than fifteen thousand will have the possibility to install charging points, the local councils of settlements with at least twenty thousand inhabitants will be able to install two, while the councils of cities with populations of one hundred thousand or more may receive state funding to install ten charging stations. By 1 January 2019 we wish to increase the number of charging stations to between 3,500 and 4,000. This will be necessary because, according to our calculations, by 2020 – which is not so far away – there will be 63,000 electric vehicles on Hungary’s roads, and rough estimates suggest that 54,000 of these will be passenger cars. And drivers who opt for electric cars will not be liable for taxation on company cars, local company tax, or registration fees – including initial registration fees.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This factory will bring benefits to Hungary, the town of Göd and Samsung. We Hungarians will get jobs and our businesses will get orders; meanwhile Samsung will pay Europe’s lowest taxes, have access to highly-trained, creative labour, and will be able to strengthen its presence in a country which is also striving to be at the forefront of research and development. This is a mutually advantageous arrangement. I wish to thank Samsung once again for having faith in us, and the Hungarian people working here for having provided proof for some time now that Hungary and Göd are worthy of the trust of the largest companies in the world economy. I wish you all much success.

Thank you for your attention.