In recent years, South Korea has become one of Hungary’s biggest investors. Recently, the Hungarian government has continued to support this foreign investment.
The Extent of South Korean Investments in Hungary
Finance Minister Mihály Varga explained the extent of South Korean investments in Hungary. He did so at the recent Hungarian-South Korean economic meeting, which took place in early March. Varga co-chaired with Moon Sung-wook, the South Korean trade and industry minister.
Three of Hungary’s largest investment projects in recent years come from South Korea.
In 2021, most of Hungary’s foreign investments were from South Korea. These investments are also excellent news for Hungarians. Specifically, Varga said that there are 260 South Korean companies employing around 20,000 people.
Overall, Hungary’s bilateral trade increased 28% in 2020. In 2021, it increased 18%. In both of those years, Hungary had more exports than imports.
South Korea has made all three of the biggest investment projects in Hungary in recent years, including the following.
One example of South Korean investment is the firm SK Innovation. This company is currently building another battery plant, its third in Hungary. This will be an investment of 680 billion Forint (1.8 billion Euro) and create 2,500 jobs.
This is the largest investment in Hungary in recent years.
ALG Chem-Toray is the second-largest investment in Hungary. It involves investing approximately 267 billion Forints and is also a battery plant.
The third-largest investment is yet another battery plant. EcoPro BM invested 264 billion Forints.
Past Figures Confirm a High Level of Investment
The above investment figures only look back at the last few years. Going further back shows that the investment relationship is much longer.
The Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) provides insight. It outlined the country’s Hungarian investments from early 2014 to mid-2021.
There were 35 South Korean investments in this time. They had combined investments of 6.2 billion Euros and created 10,399 jobs for Hungarians.
Hungarian Central Statistical Office Data
Data from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office shows a similar trend. In 2018, it reported just 90 South Korean companies with a total of 11,072 employees.
The most recent data from 2021 showed the previously mentioned figures by Varga: 261 South Korean businesses with over 20,000 employees.
Recent Leadership Meetings Between the Two Countries
The investment relationship between Hungary and South Korea is strong. One excellent example of this comes from the late-2021 meeting. South Korean President He Hoon Jae-in came to Hungary on an official visit in November 2021. Various South Korean business leaders also accompanied him.
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding
This meeting involved leaders signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
This Memorandum of Understanding institutionalized the investment relationship between Hungary and South Korea. It ensures that Korean investors receive the highest level of service in Hungary. Meanwhile, South Korea will continue presenting Hungary as a top investment location.
On the South Korean end, KOTRA CEO and President Yu Jeoung Yelo signed the agreement. On the Hungarian side, HIPA CEO Róbert Ésik signed the agreement.
For reference, KOTRA is the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. This non-profit agency has been around since 1962. It has had a Hungarian office in Budapest since 1988. Since then, KOTRA has helped Korean investors and companies. It has also significantly helped promote Korean investments in Hungary. This is in addition to promoting Budapest’s trade development.
For the last several years, South Korea has been the largest investor in Hungary. This includes having the three largest investment projects in the last few years. The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in late 2021. This indicates the relationship will continue. More recently, confirmation of this came from the latest Hungarian-South Korean economic committee meeting.
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