Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m in a difficult position, because all the important things have already been said, and we’ve also already seen all the important things. If you will allow me, I’ll nonetheless add a few remarks to all that we’ve heard, experienced and seen around us. First of all, this inauguration ceremony marks the first phase of a bigger programme. An automotive parts centre with a floor area of twenty-three thousand square metres has been completed. You have heard the company names: these are foreign moguls – or, more appropriately, truly big beasts – which finally settled on Hungary as a base for their operations. When one sees this – big foreign companies choosing Hungary – one is overwhelmed by the reassuring feeling that their choice of Hungary as a base for their operations means that there is nothing wrong with the country’s competitiveness. This is also reassuring because the most important element behind every such decision is trust – the trust of investors. Today’s event is equally about the fact that the world’s most important investors have faith in Hungary. As far as I see, Honourable Mayor, they also have faith in Páty: in the skill of your workers and the quality of their work.
It is gratifying that this relationship between Páty and Kuehne + Nagel dates back twenty-six years. We’ve heard the Honourable Chief Executive’s figures; here we are hosting a truly fantastic business, as it provides jobs for eighty-seven thousand people in a hundred countries around the world. I’ve checked the Hungarian figures – the figures from last year – and I saw that last year the company’s sales revenues amounted to around thirty-two billion forints. This is a fine accomplishment in itself, but for us what’s even more important is that Kuehne + Nagel provided jobs for more than 1,100 Hungarians. We wish to thank the company’s executives for this. An event such as this is also reassuring because it testifies to the fact that the economic policy climate that we’ve managed to create in Hungary over the past few years provides a good basis for businesses coming here to invest. We see Hungary as a country with a great future ahead of it, and we’re pleased that it is not only we who see ourselves thus, but that the investors coming here share this perception.
If you will allow me, I’d like to say a few words about our programme for industrial parks. We’ve had to find an answer to a difficult dilemma, and we’ve had to cut some Gordian knots. This is a difficult line of business: investors are willing to come to a place if there are facilities; on the other hand, if investors want to come but there are no industrial parks, at the end of the day they can’t actually come here. It is risky to start construction on an industrial park without investors lined up in advance to occupy the space created. At the same time, industrial parks will never be built if we just sit here waiting for them. This is the dilemma that has to be resolved somehow. You’re well aware that I don’t believe in the state taking on a significant role in the economy. We Hungarians always have more faith in businesses and investors than in our bureaucrats. Naturally we need bureaucrats, but not in the organisation of the economy, and it’s therefore always difficult for a government with a market-oriented mind-set to decide in which areas of the economy it wants to see more state involvement. In this particular instance, however, we had no choice. We took the view that without launching a state programme for development of industrial parks, we wouldn’t be able to resolve the dilemma I’ve just outlined: there would be no investors, and therefore no investments; and therefore there would be no jobs and no decent wages. We therefore decided to set up the National Industrial Park Management and Development Company. We found the executives from the business world who are able to build up such a company and are able to guarantee that they will operate it along business lines, rather than bureaucratically. For this I would like to express my gratitude to the company executive, who is here with us, and to the staff of the company.
This, Ladies and Gentlemen, means nothing less than the launch of Europe’s largest industrial parks development programme. This programme has two flagships. One of them is right here: this project in Páty. Our other flagship is an even more extensive project, which is being executed in the city of Hatvan. Both developments are being implemented with state backing, but on a market basis. This project has cost five billion forints, and 75 per cent of its funding has come from bank loans raised in the market; meanwhile the Hatvan development will be worth seventeen billion forints. This is only the beginning, and these are only the flagships, because across Hungary projects are only just starting which will see industrial parks built throughout the whole country. As part of the Modern Cities Programme, in thirteen cities of county rank we will build industrial parks worth a total of forty-four billion forints.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This new facility that we’re standing in front of, for instance, will provide jobs for 160 people in its first stage. Our goal is to reach full employment in Hungary: in other words, that unemployment should not be higher than 3 per cent. Only a few years ago this sounded utopian, but today it’s something we should take seriously. As you know, with unemployment at 3 per cent we can speak of an economy in which we effectively have full employment. I also believe that for industrial parks it’s important that when a larger company appears on the scene – as has happened here in Páty – that local small and medium-sized enterprises are also given a chance to join this economic process.
When launching the industrial parks programme, another important criterion was that we should reduce inequalities in development across the country. You know that where we’re standing now is among those places in an easier and better position: we’re in the immediate vicinity of Budapest. Life doesn’t quite look like this in Baranya, in Békés County or in the Nyírség region. Therefore when we start an industrial parks development programme, it’s important that we seek to roll it out across the entire country, thereby giving the chance of economic development to cities and regions which on their own and without assistance are unable to be part of the country’s bloodstream. This means that up to 2020, a sum of some 150 to 200 billion forints will be invested in construction of a network of industrial parks. With the completion of this programme we’ll have cutting-edge turn-key industrial parks, and these industrial parks will come up to the expectations of the most important foreign and Hungarian businesses with the most sophisticated needs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today is also important for us because what we see here combines two sectors, each of which on its own is particularly important for the Hungarian national economy: the automotive and logistics industries. The Chief Executive mentioned that they had to fight bloody battles to win this opportunity. We congratulate you on your successful battle. I sincerely hope that today will be followed by a great many more victorious battles. I must tell you that one of Hungary’s economic policy objectives is nothing less than for our country to become the region’s logistics service provider centre. At present some 167,000 people work in the automotive industry in Hungary, while 300,000 work in logistics, and in both sectors we can extend our limits: we have scope for growth. If one seeks to formulate a rational economic policy, one should start by looking at the map; and if you look at the map of Europe, you will immediately see that we Hungarians are right at the heart of the continent. Even God created this country to perform outstandingly in the logistics sector. Here we are, between East and West, and the southward road towards the Balkans runs right through us. And on top of this, together with the Czechs, Slovaks and Poles we constitute Europe’s most stable and secure region, which is producing its highest rate of economic growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
From this point on, we need just three things for the logistics sector to meet our highest expectations: security, predictability, and the free movement of goods. I should add that if ten years ago we looked at a map of Europe, we could see a European Union with closed external borders and open internal ones. Taking a look at the same map of Europe today, we can see the threat presented by external borders which are open, while more and more internal borders are being reintroduced. It is the duty of Hungarian policy to seek an end to this process – not only in relation to the free movement of people, but also in the best interests of our national economy. It is not in Hungary’s best interests – in fact, it is very much against Hungary’s best interests – for borders and check points to be reintroduced in the countries forming part of the European Union’s Schengen Area. Hungary and the Hungarian national economy have a vested interest in Europe’s external borders being protected and secured, and its internal borders being open. In this regard Hungary’s best interests are shared by the logistics industry.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Taxes here are low. The Hungarian people are highly trained, and today we have also heard and seen that they work to the highest world standards. The finances of the state are in order. The large credit rating agencies have all awarded us investment-category ratings, and in Hungary you can also see political stability. It seems that everything is in place for the next few years to be a period rich in outstanding economic achievements.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We want to open a new era: an era of even higher growth in the Hungarian economy’s history – just as, when it arrived here in 1991, Kuehne + Nagel itself opened, or had the opportunity to be part of, a new era in Hungary. In the same way as that arrival and that era opened a new chapter in the history of the Hungarian economy, I sincerely hope that Kuehne + Nagel’s most recent project will also be associated with the opening of a new chapter in the Hungarian economy’s history.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’d like to thank everybody who has worked hard in the hope of realising this. I wish to thank those professionals responsible for the project’s implementation for work which is excellent and – as we have all seen – swift. I congratulate the Honourable Mayor for hosting such an excellent project on the edge of the settlement, and I wish to thank the Honourable Member of Parliament for his involvement in the project’s organisation. But above all I’d like to thank the outstanding staff at the ministry overseeing industrial parks, Chief Executive Török, and also the Chief Executive of Kuehne + Nagel, for having won the battle for investment – as in Europe today battles are being fought for each and every investment. For this I’d like to thank not only Kuehne + Nagel, but also Hungary. I now inaugurate this project.
I wish you all every success.