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Feb 26, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

Foreign Minister in the US: More US Investment in Hungary

Prime Minister Orbán has had a busy travel agenda in recent days, visiting Jakarta, Ulan Bator, Moscow, Brussels, and Prague — and in the same week, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło paid a visit to Hungary. The prime minister wasn’t the only one on the road of late. Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjártó also traveled to the United States last week.

As the US presidential campaign has entered primary season, Minister Szijjártó focused his meetings on the business-side of relations with the US. The United States is the largest non-European investor in Hungary. American companies in Hungary employ 91 thousand people and their investments total approximately 9 billion USD.

According to Minister Szijjártó, those US direct investment and employment figures will likely increase. The Minister announced that four new US-based companies in the IT sector, automobile industry and service sectors will establish locations in Hungary in the very near future — creating 1,700 to 1,800 additional workplaces. Mr. Szijjártó also announced promising progress in talks with American Airlines about the possibility of re-establishing direct flights from Budapest to US cities as soon as 2017.

Hungary may break records this year for employment figures. In 2015, the overall FDI index indicates that 13 thousand new jobs were created, putting Hungary in second place in the CEE region in terms FDI per capita. In 2015, Hungary recorded the greatest trade surplus in history. These records show that Hungary’s business relations have not only recovered from the setback following the 2008 financial crisis, but are healthier than ever. For all of these reasons, US companies who are already doing business in Hungary are staying put and, in many cases, investing more.

In New York, Minister Szijjártó inaugurated the Hungarian-American Business Council, a bilateral forum to further improve business relations between the two countries and pave the way for further investments. To increase US investments in Hungary, Eximbank, Hungary’s state owned export-import financing institution, will set up a 500 million USD credit line.

Competition in the CEE region for US investment remains stiff, so the Minister’s visit is not unusual. Still, the visit is noteworthy because despite the static we have heard occasionally over the past few years about chilly relations between Hungary and the US, the fact is that the business and trade relationship continues to thrive.