Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told the US-Hungary Business Council (USHBC) that the government’s factory-saving scheme was aimed at reducing the energy dependence of companies. It is partly thanks to this programme, he said, that exports increased by 10% in the first eight months of the year, that new investments created 50% more jobs than last year and that last year’s record investments worth 6.5 billion euros were expected to double this year.
The foreign minister said Europe’s competitiveness had nosedived in the recent period, and its growth model had “collapsed” because Western technologies were tied to relatively cheap Eastern energy sources, but these had gradually severed due to the war in Ukraine. He called it “problematic” that natural gas prices in Europe today are six times as high as in the United States, while electricity costs three times as much as in China. Szijjártó called for reasonable energy cooperation to be maintained with Russia. “There’s currently no alternative to this from Hungary’s perspective,” he said. The minister hailed the fact that Hungary has become a key meeting point for Eastern and Western investors, particularly in the automotive sector, which he said represented the backbone of the Hungarian economy. This industry, however, faces major challenges, given that Western carmakers have made the decision to transition to electric vehicles while becoming “completely dependent” on Eastern batteries, Szijjártó said. “Whether we like it or not, the world’s ten biggest electric battery makers are Eastern companies with a combined 98% market share,” he said. Szijjártó noted that all three premium German car manufacturers have set up plants in Hungary and have based key elements of their electromobility strategy here. Also, five of the world’s top ten battery manufacturers will soon be present in Hungary, making the country the world’s fourth-biggest, and soon the second-biggest battery maker, he added. He said this strategy was Hungary’s guarantee for long-term growth. The future of the European economy depends mainly on the success of the auto industry’s electric transition, “and this transition is happening in Hungary”, he said.