Hungary continues to hold onto its position as a meeting point for Eastern and Western investments, and although some are trying to score political points by exploiting people’s fears, it is important to know that every existing and developing factory must comply with extremely strict domestic environmental regulations, according to a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó in Budapest on Tuesday.
The minister focused on the sector’s transition to electric power in his remarks delivered at the automotive industry conference of the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) on 9 May. He pointed out that of the ten electric battery manufacturers that cover around 95 per cent of the global market, six are Chinese, three are South Korean, and one is Japanese, but none are European, which makes it clear that ‘the East has taken this industry for itself.’ He added, however, that this situation should not be viewed as a problem because cooperation between East and West should be ‘natural’ and better than hostility between the parties. He reminded that Central Europe has always lost out in the conflict between the two blocs.
Péter Szijjártó remarked that that this situation is hard to digest for some, however, and this may be the reason why some representatives of large and strong member states of the European Union often ‘bang on the table not only in the figurative sense’ demanding the reduction of the economic role of Chinese companies on the continent at EU foreign affairs council meetings.
‘While when I talk to the large Western European company executives, they regularly ask me to convince their Eastern suppliers to come to Hungary,’ he said. ‘There is a significant difference between the dogmatic and ideological political level and real life. We like to live in real life, so Hungary will not give up the position that we have built up over the past years with systematic work, which is to become the meeting point of Eastern and Western investments in Europe,’ he said. ‘This is our life insurance, the guarantee of long-term economic growth in the midst of all economic uncertainty and adversity,’ he added.
Péter Szijjártó emphasised that except for Germany and China, Hungary is the only country where all three German luxury car brands have factories, and three of the world’s top ten electric battery manufacturers are already present in Hungary. ‘So while it is easy to take advantage of people’s natural concern for the health of their own homes, we must still ask every political actor to act responsibly, not to mislead people, not to exploit people’s legitimate concerns,’ he said. He emphasised that in Hungary, only investments that comply with extremely strict environmental regulations at the European level can be made, as the health and safety of the people is the government’s top priority.
‘No investment can jeopardise people’s health and safety, so the strictest conditions must continue to be met. I can certainly state that the factories that have been built and those that are being built are complying with these rules,’ he added. The minister reminded that this is not some kind of novelty or secret, as Hungary is already the world’s fourth-largest electric battery manufacturer, making it one of the leaders in the automotive industry. The production value of the Hungarian automotive industry has increased three and a half times in the past ten years, exceeding 12,000 billion forints last year, which represented an annual growth rate of 31 percent. The sector’s competitiveness is demonstrated by the fact that 90 per cent of its products were exported to 173 countries around the world last year, he informed.
Finally, he confirmed that the government will continue to support automotive investments needed for the transition to electric cars, as they keep the economy on a growth path.