More than €15bn of Chinese investments underway in Hungary, says foreign minister

More than €15bn of Chinese investments underway in Hungary, says foreign minister
Peter Szijjarto visited the HQ of Chinese vehicle maker Great Wall Motors in Baoding on April 23, 2023. / bne IntelliNews
By Tamas Csonka in Budapest April 24, 2024

There are HUF6 trillion (€15.3bn) of Chinese investments underway in Hungary mainly in the form of new battery plant constructions, said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto during his trip in Beijing after a meeting with China’s former trade minister and head of the financial and economic committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhong Shan.

These projects will create 25,000 new jobs, he added.

Hungary has now become the primary European destination of Chinese corporate investments, with a string of investments targeting the battery industry. At the end of 2023, Hungary had the third-largest EV battery production capacity globally, which will increase from 50GWh per year at present, to 150 GWh by 2025.

The country takes fifth place globally in terms of EV battery exports, which is set to expand in the coming years as sector leader CATL is building a €7.34bn to build a 100 GWh battery plant in the eastern industrial hub of Debrecen, near the Romanian border.

Szijjarto noted that is now China’s that has the biggest impact on the output of the Hungarian economy, besides Germany

Trade turnover between the two countries exceeded $10bn last year and is set to reach that level in 2024. Trade volume however has dropped from $12bn in 2021.

Later in the day, Hungary’s top diplomat visited the headquarters of Chinese vehicle maker Great Wall Motors in Baoding.

Hungary can be among the frontrunners of the technological transformation thanks to its close economic and investment cooperation with China, he said after the visit.

The last time Szijjarto visited China was in October, when he met BYD founder and chairman Wang Chuanf in Shenzhen. A couple of weeks later, the world's leading manufacturer of new energy vehicles (NEV) announced that it is building its first European production facility from an estimated €5bn investment in southern Hungary close to the Serbian border.

Hungary’s top diplomat disclosed the launch of a new direct flight linking Budapest with Xian in the summer during his trip to Beijing. Direct flights already operate between Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Ningbo, and another connecting the capital with Guangzhou will launch in June.

The new destination will increase the number of flights between the two countries to seventeen per week, which is the highest in the region, he added. Xian, with 13mn inhabitants, 900 km southwest of Beijing is an important industrial and financial centre, according to Szijjarto.

Hungary's top diplomat is set to meet with his counterpart on Wednesday.