Mr. Orbán highlighted that the participants at the forum had met to open a new chapter in the history of the two countries, and that their discussions had focused on the future.
On the subject of Hungarian-Israeli economic relations, the Prime Minister said that Israel is the third most important investor in Hungary, with 11 billion dollars of Israeli capital invested at the end of 2014 – representing 12 per cent of total foreign investment in Hungary. “A total of 172 Israeli businesses provide jobs for 4,570 people in Hungary; Israel is an important part of the Hungarian economy”, he stressed.
Bilateral trade between the two countries was 525 million dollars in 2016: an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2010.
Mr. Orbán also observed that Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a 600 million dollar credit line to facilitate joint projects between enterprises from the two countries.
Mr. Orbán outlined reforms in Hungary as follows:
“Hungary has undergone profound renewal in recent years, the goals of which have been to boost the economy, to establish an investor-friendly environment, to create a work-based economy and to reform Hungarian foreign policy. The Government has introduced a flat rate of corporation tax and a flat rate of personal income tax, has adopted Europe’s most flexible labour code, has reorganised the higher education system, and is currently in the process of switching to a German-style dual vocational training system.”
He stressed that “The 2018 budget has already been adopted, which also indicates that Hungary is a stable country, and this is also an important message for the economy”, adding that “Hungary is now on the global map of automotive industry research and development and testing”.
The Hungarian prime minister said that he sees the global economy as having entered a new era, in which the most important prerequisite for success is that new technologies are introduced into the economy as rapidly as possible. Mr. Orbán said that this is the most important element in the link between the Israeli and Hungarian economies: Israel is excellent at doing this, he said, while Hungary still has a long way to go to achieve this. In his words, “In the new era, competition is between countries as well as between businesses, and a country will now compete to attract new investments from companies which develop new technologies. Hungary has understood this, but Israel’s economic figures clearly show that it has not only understood this principle, but is also following it”.
Mr. Orbán stated that “In this competition within the modern global economy, Hungary and Central Europe have a good chance of being successful”.
He said that the four countries of the Visegrád Group (V4) currently form Europe’s safest and most dynamically developing region, and in the future security will continue to be an important economic factor. The Prime Minister encouraged Israeli investors to view investment in these countries as an excellent business opportunity for the future.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that “The governments of Hungary and Israel are providing all possible assistance to ensure that enterprises from the two countries can achieve success together”. Mr. Netanyahu told reporters that an agreement had been reached on the establishment of a new joint working group on technological development with the participation of Hungary and the V4 states, and he added that Israel and Hungary can learn from each other. The Israeli prime minister offered scholarship places to IT students from Hungary and the countries of the V4, so that they can learn about cutting-edge technologies in Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu stated that Israel’s attraction towards Hungary is natural.
He said that, in his opinion, technological development is only the second most important factor in a country’s economic development; a free market economy is the most important. “The state, the administration, must enable the economy to move towards a free market, because in such an environment people and enterprises find their own opportunities for rapid development. Hungary and Israel are active in this respect, and this facilitates successful cooperation between the two countries”, the Israeli prime minister said.
Israel and Hungary can learn from each other, he repeated, citing as an example that Hungary is ahead of Israel in terms of workforce mobility.
Mr. Netanyahu also drew attention to the fact that the field of IT and cybertechnology is particularly important in development of economies today, and the state must play a role in establishing and maintaining the security of cybertechnology. “This is also being given a priority role in national security”, he said.
More than a hundred Hungarian and Israeli businesspeople attended the Hungarian-Israeli Business Forum, which was organised by the Hungarian National Trading House. The main fields in which cooperation between the two countries has the potential for success are renewable energy, agriculture, the machine industry, the construction industry and various IT areas.