The Hungarian Government will enlarge its network of trading houses in the Carpathian Basin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced at the Ministry’s foreign trade conference held in Budapest.

Péter Szijjártó said that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – whose operations on foreign markets the network of trading houses is designed to support – will have a better chance of being awarded commercial orders in the Carpathian Basin due to the geographical and cultural proximity.

The Minister reiterated that the Government would like to significantly increase the exports of Hungarian SMEs as the internal decisions of large international corporations regarding the organisation of their production – e.g. the closing down of a production unit in Hungary or its relocation to another country – have an overwhelmingly large influence on Hungary’s export output.

The Minister pointed out in his opening speech of the four-day conference: Hungary would like to join the ranks of winners in the new world order that has been taking shape since 2008.

This is why a number of reforms have been implemented in Hungary in the past few years, including reforms in taxation, changes in the labour law regulations, reorganisation of higher education, and the reform of social services and health care, he said.

A Hungarian model has come into being as a result of the reforms which is criticised by many; however, the figures indicate that this model is working, the Minister stated. He reiterated that Hungary has the second highest economic growth rate among the Member States of the EU, and unemployment is declining at the fastest rate in Hungary.

Mr Szijjártó pointed out: we have turned our back on the old dogma in the realm of economics that a country cannot pursue a disciplined fiscal policy and achieve growth and create new jobs at the same time.

Péter Szijjártó highlighted that as the Hungarian economy is a very one open whose performance is fundamentally affected by exports and foreign investment, foreign trade has a particularly important role. This is why we have diverted foreign trade relations to the centre of Hungarian foreign relations, he said.

The Minister reiterated: our triple objective for 2018 is for Hungary to have the highest industrial contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the EU, to have the highest percentage of exports in the EU in relation to the country’s GDP, and to have the highest percentage of direct foreign capital investment (FDI) per capita in Eastern-Central-Europe.

At the same time, the Minister pointed out: in order to sustain the dynamic expansion of Hungarian exports in the long term – standing at 8 per cent in the first four months of this year – there are two tasks we must accomplish.

One of them is the already mentioned transformation of the structure of exports, i.e. increasing the share of SME exports, while the other one is the diversification of our export markets.

As the Minister stated, at present, some 78 per cent of exports are bound for the territory of the EU; this is why the Hungarian Government announced the policies of eastern and south-ward opening, with a view to enabling Hungarian companies – in addition to retaining their markets in the European Union – to be present in the epicentres of the world economy where there is a major potential for growth.

The Minister also informed his audience that Hungary had opened three new embassies, in the capitals of Ecuador, Malaysia and Mongolia, was opening another two this year in Ethiopia and Uzbekistan, and was planning to open four more embassies next year in Ghana, Angola, New-Zealand and the Philippines.

Mr Szijjártó said that, in consequence of the war in Ukraine, in 2014 Hungarian exports to Russia declined by USD 520 million, while exports to Ukraine fell by some USD 300 million, and this negative trend also continued in the first quarter of this year.

The Minister spoke highly of the activities of the support institutions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and mentioned the strategic partnership agreements which the Hungarian Government has concluded with 59 business actors to date.

The Minister announced that they are currently in the process of preparing the signature of two new agreements: one of them with the dairy company Alföldi Tej, while the other one with the motion subsystem and motion component manufacturer Johnson Electric. Mr Szijjártó described these agreements as highly successful because, as pledged by the partners, they have significantly increased the number of jobs in Hungary.