Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó presented the Investor of the Year Awards at the Investor Gala held in Pesti Vigadó on Thursday in Budapest.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) presented the awards in 8 categories to companies that have substantially contributed to the development of the Hungarian economy through their investment decisions made last year and through their committed activities in Hungary so far.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and HIPA President Róbert Ésik presented the awards to the leaders of the companies at the gala.

The economic development of the past 4-5 years demonstrated that the Hungarian model works, thanks to which the country has succeeded in overcoming an old economic dogma and has proved that it is possible to achieve economic growth, create new jobs and push the budget deficit to under 3 per cent at the same time, while gradually reducing the national debt, the Minister said.

As a result, the Hungarian economy recorded a growth of 3.6 per cent last year, he added. Investments increased by 14 per cent - a rate not seen for 17 years - amounting to HUF 5,216 billion. A 22-year-old record was also broken: 4.1 million people work in the country today.

However, Péter Szijjártó explained that significant changes are taking place all over the world from military, economic and political point of view. These changes had a profound effect on the function of foreign policy around the world, including Hungary. This called for a new type of foreign policy; one which shifted the focus on foreign economic objectives.

Talking about the key objectives of the Hungarian foreign policy and foreign economic strategy, Péter Szijjártó identified the following objectives: Hungary should take the leading position in the European Union in terms of the industry’s contribution to the performance of national economy and the contribution of exports to GDP, and Hungary should have the highest per capita foreign direct investment (FDI) in Central Europe.

He indicated that these objectives could never have been achieved without the contribution of the foreign companies whose leaders were present at the gala. The companies that are committed to Hungary allowed Hungary to return to a permanent growth trajectory in 2014.

He emphasised that the Hungarian Government was serious about its Opening to the East strategy that has brought its results. This strategy is not only about the growth of exports, but also about the promotion of investments in Hungary. He mentioned Apollo Tyres as an example, the company that made the largest greenfield investment in Hungary in 2014. The Indian tyre manufacturer invests HUF 146 billion in Hungary and creates 975 new jobs.

The Minister explained that last year – similarly to 2013 – the automotive industry was the flagship of the Hungarian economy. Last year the automotive industry accounted for 27.4 per cent of the total output of the processing industry which means a 23 per cent increase in just one year. The production value of the automotive industry exceeded EUR 21.5 billion. Currently the automotive industry accounts for about one quarter of total Hungarian goods exports. This means that the Hungarian automotive industry recorded revenue of more than EUR 20 billion from exports. The Hungarian automotive industry employed over 132,000 people last year, recording an increase of 16 per cent within a year. So it is not surprising that four of the eight award-winning companies operate in the automotive industry, he added.

He also mentioned that small and medium-sized enterprises are "at the heart" of the national economy, because they employ about three quarters of the labour force in Hungary. He mentioned that the Hungarian Supplier of the Year was Hajdu Autótechnika Zrt. He added that according to experts, the most efficient way to develop the Hungarian SME sector was to facilitate the involvement of as many Hungarian companies as possible in the supply chain of large international companies. It is no wonder that three of the award-winning companies are strategic partners of the Government, he added.

Péter Szijjártó also mentioned that in addition to being a production centre, Hungary’s long term objective is to become the centre of development and innovation as well. Thus, the country wants to attract as many innovation capacities as possible.

HIPA President Róbert Ésik said that the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency completed 60 successful projects in 2014 with a total value of EUR 1.66 billion. These investments created about 11,000 new jobs altogether all over the country. The President was of the opinion that these figures are even more precious if we consider the fact that Hungary attracted more investors than Slovakia or Poland. This comparison is important because the investors’ decision-making process usually starts with choosing the region.

He reminded that HIPA currently manages 109 projects where decisions are still to be made. Should these projects be implemented, it would mean further 18,800 new jobs for the country, while the total value of investments would amount to about EUR 2.5 billion.

In addition to Apollo Tyres Kft. and Hajdu Autótechnika Zrt., awards were presented at the gala to Denso Gyártó Magyarország Kft. for the largest expansion of the year, Autoliv Hungary Kft. for creating the most jobs, GE Hungary Kft. for establishing the largest regional service centre of the year, IT Services Hungary Kft. for the largest regional service centre expansion as well as to Nokia Solutions and Networks Kft. as the research and development investor of the year. Miskolc South Industrial Park was named the most investor-friendly industrial park of the year.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)