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EU entry beneficial for Hungary’s foreign trade balance

In the preliminary figures of the Central Statistics Office (KSH), Hungary?s foreign trade grew at a faster pace in 2004 than in previous years, with a 17% increase in export volume and 14% rise in imports. The growth rate of exports was higher than that of imports in each of the four quarters. The value of exported goods totaled Ft 11.094 billion, 15% higher than in 2003, while imports rose by 13% to Ft 12.064 billion. The country?s foreign trade balance improved by Ft 82 billion to Ft 970 billion. At 92%, the relative value of exports and imports has never been so high since 1992.
The good balance arose primarily as a result of significant growth in machinery and vehicle exports, which is the most significant export category accounting for 62% of Hungary?s total 2004 exports. The 22% growth rate was the highest among the main product categories. As far as smaller groups of products are concerned, Hungarian companies sold Ft 2,100 billion worth of telecom and audio equipment, which is 28% more than a year earlier. This trend was driven by a 40% increase in cell phone exports, which were particularly successful in the last four months of the year and accounted for more than 10% of total exports. On the import side, the value of production and transportation equipment brought in the country was 20% higher than a year earlier.
The only time during the year when Hungary?s foreign trade balance was significantly worse than otherwise was in the months leading up to EU accession, which was due to strategic purchases aiming to take maximum advantage of the change in customs regulations. Broken down by destination, the 2004 balance of foreign trade between Hungary and the EU improved considerably in comparison with 2003, while the balance of trade with non-EU countries was worse than a year earlier. A key factor in the structural changes in Hungary?s foreign trade was that most of the Asian goods that enter Hungary via EU countries are now registered as being imported directly from Asia, while in 2003 they were shown in the statistics as imports from the EU.