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Hungary surplus on services almost doubles as export grows in 2010

Hungary had a EUR 2.68 billion surplus in trade of services in 2010, almost double the EUR 1.42 billion surplus a year earlier, data published by the Central Statistics Office (KSH) show.

Exports of services rose almost 10% in 2010, while imports of services were practically unchanged from the previous year.

Exports of the sector rose 9.5% to EUR 14.34 billion after contracting almost 5% in 2009. Imports edged down 0.1% to EUR 11.66 billion after falling almost 10% in 2009.

Within overall trade of services, Hungary's surplus in tourism services grew by EUR 336 million to EUR 1.8 billion. The surplus widened as revenue from tourism services (or exports) dropped 0.7% in euro terms, similar to the decline in 2009, to EUR 4.05 billion, while tourism spending (imports) fell 14% to EUR 2.24 billion after an almost 5% drop in 2009.

Both exports and imports of freight and transport services rose at double-digit rates in 2010 after a decline on a similar scale in 2009. The sector started expanding year-on-year in Q1 2010. Imports of the sector totaled EUR 2.02 billion for the full year, rising 14.3% after a similar decline in 2009. Exports of the services rose 12.3% to EUR 2.83 billion, after falling 10.5% in 2009. Hungary's trade surplus in the sector increased EUR 58m to EUR 814m.

Within the freight and transport sector, both spending and revenue rose at an above average rate in the road haulage segment and the auxiliary services segment, which includes intermodal deliveries and warehouse services, KSH said. Spending and revenue on deliveries to and from destinations in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were especially big. The air segment grew at below average rate.

Exports of business services rose 15.1% to EUR 7.37 billion after a 1.2% drop in 2009. Imports rose a modest 1.6% to EUR 7.27 billion after an almost 10% drop to EUR 6.769 billion in 2009. Exports in the sector have been rising year-on-year since Q1 2010 and imports started to rise in Q2. The sector usually runs a deficit but showed a EUR 103 million surplus in 2010 in contrast with the EUR 746 million deficit in 2009.

Within business services, areas with rapidly rising exports last year included insurance services, up almost 45% year-on-year, R+D services and exports of licenses, up more than 30%, re-export and other trade related services, increasing 26%, and consulting and PR services, up 20.8%. The 23.3% rise of exports of personal, cultural and amusement services mainly reflected rising film license sales to Asia, KSH said.

Exports of construction services fell more than 10%, but the drop slowed from an almost 18% contraction in 2009.

Within imports, spending on insurance services fell the most, by more than 40%, but imports of financial services also fell steeply, by almost 16%. Spending on foreign R+D services rose 17.3%, and imports of personal, cultural and amusement services rose 13.2%.

Both exports and imports of IT and computer-related services, one of the few areas that showed growth in 2009, climbed, with exports up 10.4%.

Excluding tourism, Hungary's biggest trading partner in services last year was Germany, accounting for 18.2% of Hungary's service imports and 13.1% of its exports. The United States was runner-up, accounting for 14.2% of Hungary's imports of services and 8.6% of exports of services. The UK was in third place, accounting for 8.4% of imports and 7.3% of exports.

Hungary's trade in services showed a EUR 364 million deficit with Germany, a EUR 499m deficit with the US and a EUR 41m deficit with the UK. Among the country's ten biggest trade partners, Hungary had a EUR 260 million trade deficit with the Netherlands, a EUR 136 million surplus with France, a EUR 51 million surplus with Austria and an EUR 42 million surplus with Switzerland.

Beside the U.S., the only non-EU member among the ten biggest partners of service exports to Hungary was Switzerland, accounting for 2.9% of the total. In terms of exports, the only non-EU members among Hungary's top ten trade partners were the US, Switzerland and Japan. Japan accounted for 5.2% of Hungarian exports, making it the country's fifth-biggest export destination.