For Arizona businesses looking to expand their operations to Europe, there are plenty of options on the table. But Dr. László Szabó, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States, wants Hungary to be at the top of companies’ lists—so much so that the country is expanding its presence in Arizona and the United States in key ways.
“We are great at inventing things, but making money on them is an American thing,” Dr. Szabó said. “So that’s why I believe we have a lot to do here, and that’s why we are looking for partners.”
During a recent visit to Arizona, Dr. Szabó met with a group of business leaders at the Global Chamber to discuss why more American companies should have their eye on Hungary. He claimed potential benefits include everything from low corporate taxes to a wide range of financial incentives.
“The corporate tax is very low, nine percent,” Dr. Szabó said. “But even from that nine percent, you can get an 80 percent release if you concentrate your investment on research and development.”
Dr. Szabó said Hungary’s focus is on attracting businesses that will add to the value of Hungary’s economy, rather than those that will create a large amount of new jobs that need to be filled. This is because Hungary’s national unemployment rate is roughly 3.5 percent, down from nearly twelve percent only eight years ago, so there isn’t much of a need for labor opportunities. But companies looking to make large capital investments in the country may be eligible for a wide range of incentives, including reimbursements to help cover staff training costs.
“The higher value-adding activities you have, the more R&D subsidies you can find,” he said.
Another potential benefit for American companies is Hungary’s location. Despite being a relatively small country—roughly the size of Indiana, and home to about ten million people— Dr. Szabó said the country’s infrastructure and central European location makes it a great option for accessing Europe’s nearly 550 million-person market.
“Within fifteen, sixteen hours, you can reach with a truck almost any corner of Europe,” he said. “So it’s pretty easy to export goods from Hungary.”
Other potential benefits to companies include what Dr. Szabó described as a “highly-educated” workforce—everyone who earns a degree in the country is required to learn multiple languages, he mentioned.
Some Arizona businesses may still be wondering where exactly they might fit within Hungary’s business climate. But Dr. Szabó said there’s a decent amount of overlap in terms of industries that are developing in both regions, including the aerospace, autonomous vehicles and water technology industries, to name a few.
“Looking at the profile of the opportunities here in Arizona, we believe we have a lot to talk about,” he said.
Additionally, in order to increase the viability of partnerships between the United States and Hungary, Hungary is increasing its presence in the United States in some big ways.
First, Hungary is appointing a brand new Honorary Consul in Arizona to act as an initial point of contact between Arizona businesses and Hungary. This person, Dr. Szabó says, will be an American citizen who was born in Hungary, and will “be able to represent Hungary in a semi-official way.” Not only will this person be able to provide information to Arizona businesses considering a move to Hungary, but also provide opportunities for Hungarians to partner with Arizona businesses.
Additionally, Hungary is building out a new facility in Washington D.C. designed to house Hungarian startups that are looking to partner with American companies. The facility, called the Business Promotion and Development Campus, will initially house four Hungarian startups when it opens sometime later this year.
Doug Bruhnke, CEO & Founder of the Global Chamber, which hosted Dr. Szabó’s Arizona visit, said he thinks there are strong reasons why Arizona businesses should consider Hungary.
“The taxes, the regulatory environment, the innovation aspects–any company that’s innovating should really be thinking about Hungary,” Bruhnke said.