Creative Industries Hungary
Population: 9,850,845 (July 2017 est.)
Internet country code: .hu
Hungary / Magyarország
Hungary became a Christian kingdom in A.D. 1000 and for many centuries served as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion in Europe. The kingdom eventually became part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I. The country fell under communist rule following World War II. In 1956, a revolt and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military intervention by Moscow. Under the leadership of Janos KADAR in 1968, Hungary began liberalizing its economy, introducing so-called “Goulash Communism.” Hungary held its first multiparty elections in 1990 and initiated a free market economy. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU five years later. In 2011, Hungary assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the EU for the first time.
Hungary has transitioned from a centrally planned to a market-driven economy with a per capita income approximately two-thirds of the EU-28 average. Since 2010 however, the government has become more involved in managing the economy. Budapest has implemented unorthodox economic policies to maintain fiscal balance, as well as a six-year wage increase plan to boost household consumption. Economic growth depends highly on exports, making Hungary vulnerable to external market shocks.
Following the fall of communism in 1990, Hungary experienced a drop-off in exports and financial assistance from the former Soviet Union. Hungary embarked on a series of economic reforms, including privatization of state-owned enterprises and reduction of social spending programs, to shift from a centrally planned to a market-driven economy, and to reorient its economy towards trade with the West. These efforts helped to spur growth, attract investment, and reduce Hungary’s debt burden and fiscal deficits. Despite these reforms, living conditions for the average Hungarian initially deteriorated as inflation increased and unemployment reached double digits. Conditions slowly improved over the 1990s as the reforms came to fruition and export growth accelerated. Economic policies instituted during that decade helped position Hungary to join the European Union in 2004. Hungary has not yet joined the euro-zone. Hungary suffered a historic economic contraction as a result of the global economic slowdown in 2008-09 as export demand and domestic consumption dropped, prompting it to take an IMF-EU financial assistance package.
Since 2010, the government has backpedaled on many economic reforms and taken a more populist approach towards economic management. The government has favored national industries and government-linked businesses through legislation, regulation, and public procurements. In 2011 and 2014, Hungary nationalized private pension funds, which squeezed financial service providers out of the system, but also helped Hungary curb its public debt and lower its budget deficit to below 3% of GDP, as subsequent pension contributions have been channeled into the state-managed pension fund. Hungary’s public debt (at 74.5% of GDP) is still high compared to EU peers in Central Europe. Real GDP growth has been robust in the past few years due to increased EU funding, higher EU demand for Hungarian exports, and a rebound in domestic household consumption. To further boost household consumption ahead of the 2018 election, the government embarked on a six-year phased increase to minimum wages and public sector salaries, decreased taxes on foodstuffs and services, cut the personal income tax from 16% to 15%, and implemented a uniform 9% business tax for small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies. Real GDP growth slowed in 2016 due to a cyclical decrease in EU funding, but increased to 3.8% in 2017 as the government pre-financed EU funded projects ahead of the 2018 election.
Systemic economic challenges include pervasive corruption, labor shortages driven by demographic declines and migration, widespread poverty in rural areas, vulnerabilities to changes in demand for exports, and a heavy reliance on Russian energy imports.
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and green; the flag dates to the national movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, and fuses the medieval colors of the Hungarian coat of arms with the revolutionary tricolor form of the French flag; folklore attributes virtues to the colors: red for strength, white for faithfulness, and green for hope; alternatively, the red is seen as being for the blood spilled in defense of the land, white for freedom, and green for the pasturelands that make up so much of the country