“Japanese enterprises are playing an important role in the growth of the Hungarian economy, and amongst others have contributed to the 5.3 percent increase in Hungarian GDP realised during the first quarter of this year, with which Hungary achieved the fastest rate of growth in the European Union”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Budapest on Thursday. Prior to the lunch for Japanese investors organised by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), Mr. Szijjártó highlighted: “Cooperation between Hungary and Japan, and between the Hungarian and Japanese people, has always been based on mutual respect, and this cooperation has perhaps never before been as stable and successful as it is today”.

With relation to economic relations between the two countries, the Minister said Hungary has 2.5 billion dollars in Japanese investments, and there are over 160 Japanese enterprises operating in Hungary, which provide jobs to 34 thousand Hungarians. Over the past five years alone, the HIPA has held successful negotiations with Japanese enterprises on 21 occasions, and the agreements have meant 808 million dollars in new investment and 4 thousand new workplaces for Hungary, he added.

Mr. Szijjártó expressed his thanks to the leaders of the Japanese companies that have invested in Hungary for placing their trust in the Hungarian economy and in the people of Hungary. The Minister specifically highlighted President and CEO of Suzuki Motor Corporation Osamu Suzuki, who was the first Japanese investor to place his trust in Hungary following the regime change and open the Suzuki factory, which remains the only one in Europe to this day. The Minister said that in 2010 the Hungarian economy “was at the edge of a precipice and courageous political decisions were required not only to enable us to survive the crisis, but to also gain strength following it”.

Among these courageous decisions, Mr. Szijjártó listed the abolishment of the progressive tax system, which was replaced by a flat rate tax system, and the reduction of corporation tax to just 9 percent, which is uniquely low in the European Union. He pointed out that the Hungarian economy is currently in a period of dimensional transition, while the global economy is slowing down, and according to the Minister it is important for the Hungarian Government to introduce measures that enable the rate of growth of the Hungarian economy to continue to sustainably exceed the European Union average by at least 2 percent points in the upcoming years.

“In the interests of maintaining economic growth, the Government has prepared an Economy  Protection Action Plan, important elements of which include a further reduction in the taxes on work and the modernisation of the vocational training system”, he indicated. In his speech, Mr. Szijjártó said: “In the upcoming years we will be striving to further improve economic relations and cooperation not only between Hungary and Japan, but also between Japan and a European Union that will hopefully be gaining strength, in view of the fact that this is in the interests of Hungary, the Hungarian people and the enterprises operating in Hungary alike”.

At the event, President and CEO of Suzuki Motor Corporation Osamu Suzuki recalled that Suzuki Hungary built its factory and began operations in Hungary in 1992. The production centre in Esztergom has become Suzuki’s second largest overseas production centre. The plant initially produced around 50 thousand cars-a-year, but this number has since increased to over 190 thousand. The Suzuki models manufactured in Hungary are exported to 123 countries around the world. CEO of the HIPA Róbert Ésik and Japanese Ambassador to Hungary Sato Kuni also gave speeches at the event, both praising the fact that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Japan.