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Government working to evade recession threatening Europe, minister says

Szijjarto: Car industry output up 13 percent in first seven months of 2022

Output of Hungary's automotive industry rose by 13 percent to 6,600 billion forints (EUR 16.2bn) in the first seven months of the year, the minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Tuesday, adding that there was a "realistic chance" that the sector's output could reach 10,000 billion forints "in spite of the recession environment".

Addressing the inauguration of Audi Hungaria’s expanded tools plant in Gyor, in north-west Hungary, Peter Szijjarto said Hungary had clearly become a European centre of auto industry modernisation.

The government is supporting the 3.8 billion forint expansion of Audi Hungaria’s tools plant with a 1.2 billion forint government grant, he said. The expansion has increased the base’s exclusive series production capacity by 30 percent, he added.

Output of Hungary’s automotive sector came to 9,300 billion forints last year compared with 3,600 billion in 2010, Szijjarto said. The sector employs 150,000 people, with 90 percent of its output produced for export, making Hungary the world’s 19th largest auto exporter, he added.

Germany is Hungary’s biggest trading partner, he noted, adding that bilateral trade turnover came close to 60 billion euros last year. “Looking at the figures from the first half of this year”, trade turnover in 2022 could exceed last year’s, he said. German businesses remain the biggest investor community in Hungary, employing some 300,000 Hungarians, Szijjarto said.

Hungary’s economy grew by more than 6 percent in the second quarter of the year, thanks in large part to the government’s pandemic response measures aimed at preventing unemployment, Szijjarto said. Thanks to the government’s investment promotion scheme, the Hungarian economy is still growing, he said, adding that investments were also the key to future growth.

Szijjarto said Europe was threatened by “deep economic recession”, and the continent was also facing a security crisis.

But Hungary, he said, had been “facing different crisis situations practically for 10-12 years”, adding that the country had emerged stronger from every difficult situation.

He said Hungary’s responses to the various crises had always differed from those of the international mainstream and had focused on the enforcement of national interests.

Government working to evade recession threatening Europe

The Hungarian government’s job is to save the country from the “impending recession” in Europe and ensure that Hungary stays on a path to economic growth, the minister said on Tuesday, attending Huawei European Innovation Day. “Europe is racing towards economic recession,” Szijjarto said, adding that the continent was also facing a serious security crisis.

To keep the economy on a growth path, the country needs to “continuously attract foreign investment that creates new jobs and steadily increases the level of technology,” Szijjarto said.

To this end, Chinese companies have proved to be “excellent partners”, providing support through their investment projects in the current difficult situation, the minister said.

Large Chinese companies are obtaining an increasing market share in Europe, and growing their presence through investments, he said. “It is in Hungary’s interest that more and more large Chinese investments should come here,” he said.

Szijjarto noted a battery plant construction by CATL as “the largest investment of all time in Hungary and one of the biggest in Europe”, and he mentioned Huawei’s research centre and logistics base as facilities yielding “special benefits” to the country.

He also noted that like in 2020, this year saw the highest amount of FDI coming from China, “as a result of the government’s Eastern Opening strategy”.

The Hungarian government does not and never will discriminate against investors based on their country of origin, Szijjarto said. “There is only one requirement: investors must honour (local) laws and regulations,” he added. The same principle applies even when the government is “under serious international pressure not to allow Huawei in,” he said, adding that “we are proud of Huawei’s investments in Hungary”.

Active in Hungary for 15 years, Huawei was the first Chinese company to sign up as a government strategic partner, Szijjarto noted. Cooperation with Huawei “is a clear sign of the government’s openness to innovation, new ideas, dialogue based on equality and mutual respect, and value-creating work”, he added.

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