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German-Hungarian success story in danger, warns German business leader

MTI-Hungary Today 2022.10.11.

The joint German-Hungarian economic success story is in danger, the head of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, an association of German economic players in Eastern European markets, said Monday in Berlin at a German-Hungarian economic forum on the occasion of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Berlin.

Speaking at the forum, also attended by the Hungarian prime minister, Philipp Haussmann stressed that relations between the two countries are characterized by a strong partnership for mutual benefit and that it is “good and important” that the Hungarian economy is changing, as shown by the significant investments in electric mobility, autonomous driving and other new technologies.

However, he indicated that German companies operating in Hungary in some sectors that the government considers strategic are facing difficulties. These sectors include telecommunications, construction materials, waste processing, banking and insurance services and, more recently, retail.

In these sectors, the government wants to see the emergence of “national champions” – Hungarian-owned companies that are strongest in their markets – which is a legitimate goal.

However, a growing number of the German companies involved have a “reasonable suspicion” that they are “not welcome,”

he said.

Among their difficulties are industry-specific special taxes, and they feel that procedures for issuing permits and awarding public contracts are opaque and that they do not have “fair access to justice”, he added.

All this leads to uncertainty and endangers the German-Hungarian “joint success story,” Philipp Haußmann said, stressing that a liberal economic order and the commitment of German companies depend on investment security, fair public procurement and rule-of-law frameworks.

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He also said that German business actors want a quick agreement on EU subsidies and stressed that German business unconditionally supports sanctions against Russia over its war on Ukraine.

In a tweet, Viktor Orbán said he had assured representatives of German companies operating in Hungary of his support.

“We may have disagreements from time to time, but not as many as with their own government at home.”
At the business forum, Orbán highlighted the predictability of Hungary’s economic policy and stressed that his government has already reached agreements with major German companies in the areas of telecommunications, digitalization and the shift to green energy.

The unconditional support for the sanctions against Russia is put into perspective by the fact that the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations is currently conducting a survey on the impact of the sanctions among its members. The results are yet unknown as the survey ends only only Wednesday.
The complaints about inadequacies in the awarding of public contracts and deficient rule-of-law frameworks sound like echoes of the European Parliament’s latest report, oddly enough from a business lobbyist who represents not the interests of a government but those of German entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe. In any case, the results of the survey on the effects of sanctions conducted by his organization might put the real troubles that German businesses are facing into a new perspective.

Originally Published on our sister site, Ungarn Heute

Featured Photo: Philipp Haußmann, German Embassy Warsaw Facebook

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