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U.S. Footprint Increasing in Hungary

As Hungary’s second most significant investor, the United States and several of its leading global firms have been present in Hungary for more than 28 years, now employing more than 90,000 people. 

The United States is Hungary’s 12th most important trading partner; its share of the total Hungarian international trade in goods is 2.8%, based on the data of the Central Statistical Office (KSH) in 2016. With its 2.1% share it ranks 13th in imports and tenth in exports with a share of 3.4%. 

In terms of foreign direct investment, the United States is Hungary’s second most significant investor. The volume of FDI to the country was  USD 18.455 billion in 2014, according to the data of the KSH and the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA). There are 1,715 U.S.-owned companies in Hungary, employing 92,703. Last year, the value of bilateral commercial trade was USD 5.524 bln. Hungary’s trade surplus with the United States was USD 1.584 bln. 

Among the U.S. firms present in Hungary are some global market leaders, such as General Electric (GE), which has been present in Hungary for 28 years. It is not only the largest U.S. investor, but also one of the largest Hungarian companies at the same time. GE operates 12 factories, five R&D centers and three business service centers in 13 Hungarian cities, employing more than 10,000 people. Almost all GE businesses are represented in Hungary, in its local factories the company manufactures state of the art healthcare, water, oil & gas, aviation, lighting as well as power generation solutions. GE is one of the biggest exporters in Hungary, exporting 99% of its total production to global markets.

Dynamically Growing

Over the last two years GE has invested approximately USD 120 million into its Hungarian operations. The company’s most dynamically growing business, Global Operations, created more than 2,000 new jobs since opening in 2014 and will grow further this year. It provides integrated shared services to GE businesses across Europe and beyond and is an integral part of GE’s global strategy driving service innovation and simplification in its operations. 

Other facilities such as the Oil & Gas plant at Fót, just outside Budapest, or the GE Aviation and Power at the Veresegyház factory (about 35 km northeast of the capital) have also grown significantly. GE Aviation nearly doubled its size with an additional 4,600 square meters and increased the number of employees by 5%, while GE Power hired 300 highly qualified people at Veresegyház, where it already employs 2,000.

In 2016, the company opened one of its six global Digital Hubs in Budapest. GE’s new Digital Hub will create 400 highly skilled expert positions by the end of this year in the field of industrial internet solutions. The hub is responsible for software development, business processes and application resiliency, building and running infrastructure and offering access to big data solutions. Just as is the case globally, GE is transforming its industrial footprint in Hungary to what it calls a digital industrial footprint, an area where GE strives to be a leader in Hungary and the region, supporting the transformation of the local economies as well. Along the transformation there are some significant changes, which will have also an effect on GE’s presence in Hungary, the company said.

Early Birds

Another company from among the ‘early birds’ in Hungary is Microsoft Magyarország Kft., which stands out among the list of major U.S. corporations headquartered in Hungary based on the number of people it – indirectly – employs. The company was set up as the Hungarian representation of Microsoft Corporation in 1993 with only two employees. By now, it has grown into a significant player of the domestic IT industry, and the number of its direct employees exceeds 250 people. The company sells Microsoft products through its network of distributors and dealers/resellers involving a large number of partner companies; Microsoft Magyarország says it has ties to nearly all the Hungarian technology firms. Overall, the company’s 2,000 partners give work to 50,000 people in the country.  

Some firms, manufacturers in particular, have chosen to have headquarters in the countryside. Although NI Hungary Kft., the local subsidiary of the Texas-based National Instruments (NI), which makes industrial gauges and control systems, has sales office in Budapest, its major operations are centered in Debrecen.

Since it set up its first overseas facility here in 2001, the electronic device maker has constantly been growing – today it counts more than 1,200 experts in 13 areas. In addition to production – more than 90% of hardware manufacturing takes place here – the company’s financial department and global IT services to assist European, Asian, and U.S. operations are also based here. The company also operates an R&D center in Debrecen. At its 15th anniversary celebration last October, NI Hungary announced it would invest nearly USD 20 mln in the development of R&D, IT and manufacturing capacity, for the establishment of a new, fourth building and for the expansion of NIʼs global shared service center capacity. As a result, 210 new, high value-added jobs will be created.