Today the Hungarian economy’s growth rate is the highest in the European Union, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Monday at the inauguration of the structure of the animal feed manufacturing plant of TBZ Táp Kft., forming part of the Claessens company group, from an investment worth HUF 3.1 billion, in Böhönye-Terebezdpuszta in Somogy County.

Mr Szijjártó recalled that in 2010 Hungary was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, but today with an economic growth of 5.1 per cent it can be regarded as Europe’s champion; no other EU Member State is able to match Hungary’s expansion rate. He added that Hungary has finally reached the stage where it is only a few steps away from full employment, and is rendering the 34th best export performance among the countries of the world, despite the fact that regarding its population figure it is ranked 92nd. We have managed to achieve all this not only without a rise in the country’s debt rate, but against the background of a continuous fall in the sovereign debt, he said.

He took the view that it adds to the value of Hungary’s growth rate that it has been achieved “amidst turbulent times” in the world economy which has an enormous impact on small, open economies such as the Hungarian. Mr Szijjártó also said that the weight of Hungary forming part of a strengthened Central European region has changed in the European economy, and is playing a key role in the future shaping of the EU’s competitiveness. He mentioned as an example that last year the Visegrád countries – which Hungary also forms a part of – conducted a 74 per cent higher volume of trade with Germany than France.

All these achievements required the outstanding performance of the Hungarian people and Hungarian businesses, as well as the government’s economic policy, thanks to which today Hungary has the lowest taxes in the EU, he stressed. He highlighted that the government is committed to the further reduction of taxes on labour.

Regarding Somogy County, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in the first quarter of the year, businesses operating in the county implemented new investments worth HUF 20 billion; 50 per cent more than during last year’s corresponding period. This is double the country’s national rate of increase in investments. Industrial performance has increased by 4.2 per cent, unemployment has fallen to one third in the county, and as a result, Somogy County has played a prominent role in the achievement of the Hungarian economy’s outstanding results, he said.

Mr Szijjártó pointed out that in the past few years Hungary has pursued a successful reindustrialisation policy, whilst retaining the strategic role of agriculture. Innovation is key in agriculture and the food industry; only businesses developing and using new technologies can be successful, he indicated.

Márta Piroska Zsoldos, independent Mayor of Böhönye said 82 per cent of the territory of Somogy County is arable land, and more than 50,000 people live off agriculture. She indicated that 90 per cent of the territory of Böhönye is arable land, 250 people work in agriculture, and agricultural businesses are among the settlement’s biggest taxpayers. The municipality, too, takes part in plant cultivation: They use the locally produced vegetables for children’s meals, and sell their excess produce to members of the local public, she added.

Peter Claessens, one of the owners of the company group told the Hungarian news agency MTI that the animal feed manufacturing plant to be built by next summer with a government grant worth HUF 1.24 billion will have an annual capacity of 100,000 tonnes, a large proportion of which they will use for rearing their own animals. As a result of the development, the number of employees will increase from 250 to 300. He said the project is unique in Hungary as the technology to be used will permit the processing of raw maize, thereby achieving significant energy savings which will also reduce the company’s ecological footprint.

The Belgian Claessens family purchased the successor company of the South Somogy State Farm a quarter of a century ago. Members of the family were granted Hungarian citizenship, and their company group has become Somogy County’s largest animal livestock business. They are engaged in cattle farming, dairy production, pig breeding and fattening, and plant cultivation.

Peter Claessens said they have more than 2,000 cows, their dairy production will amount to 22 million litres this year, they have a sow breeding stock of 8,500, and these animals give birth to some 350,000 piglets annually. They raise one half of them in their own fattening unit,a while the rest are sold to Hungarian farmers. They produce the feed necessary for feeding their animals on their own arable land, and also purchase additional quantities from local farmers in the vicinity. Last year, Claessens Kft., Agrár Kft. and Csicsó Pig Kft. forming part of the company group realised a sales revenue of around HUF 10 billion; according to preliminary expectations, sales revenues for this year will be between HUF 13 and 15 billion.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)