First quarter foreign trade data in Hungary are excellent, as the sector posted a surplus of some EUR 2.5bn in the period January-March 2015, Minister of State for Economic Regulation Béla Glattfelder said, commenting on statistics released earlier this morning by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH).

Speaking on public news channel M1, the Minister of State stressed that in case this positive trend continues the country’s trade surplus may reach EUR 9bn by year-end, and thus hit an all-time high.

In March 2015, foreign trade surplus totalled EUR 929 million, up by some EUR 300 million year-on-year, which constitutes an increase of almost 40 percent, he pointed out.

Several factors have been behind this increase. Hungary’s economy has recently grown significantly, thanks especially to the performance of the industrial sector.  Another positive factor was the low price of oil on international markets and the fact that the US dollar had substantially appreciated against the euro and Hungary has managed to massively increase exports to US dollar-based markets. For example, one-fifth of total Hungarian vehicle exports headed to the USA and to the Americas in March 2015.

Although, he added, some 80 percent of total Hungarian exports still go to EU member states, the volume of exports to non-EU countries has increased faster than that of exports to EU member states. In March, Hungary’s foreign trade balance with non-EU countries was flat, as trade gap had narrowed by EUR 445 million. This will also result in improved competitiveness, Béla Glattfelder said. While Hungary had traditionally had a negative trade balance before 2010, the country’s foreign trade has been running a surplus ever since.

On the basis of March data, Béla Glattfelder forecast that positive trends will remain unless there is a major turnaround in price-for-value perceptions.