Stevan Sefer, the head of the Hungarian branch of global integrated materials and technology group ThyssenKrupp AG, has been appointed the new head of the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DUIHK, or AHK Ungarn). The BBJ asked him about how German businesses see the state of affairs in Hungary.
Q: What are your plans as the new head of DUIHK?
A: This appointment is quite new. For the time being I’m gathering the information I need and acclimatizing myself.
Q: How do you see the state of the Hungarian economy?
A: Naturally, we are always striving to stay completely neutral in our judgment. Our primary goal is to represent our members and their best interests. As such, what we would like to see more of is greater transparency in how the economy is run and also to have a bigger say in the policy decisions the government makes. That said, we understand, regarding measures taken in the past year, that there were time constraints which did not allow for consultations.
Q: What do German companies want to see from the Hungarian government?
A: German firms have a German mentality, meaning they are not too fond of surprises and would therefore like to see more predictability. They would also like to see more security regarding legal conditions, both in lawmaking and execution. There have been some measures which appeared discriminative, something we considered unfortunate.
Q: Still, there remain major German companies active in the country and there are also major developments underway. Where does Hungary’s competitive advantage lie?
A: There are many reasons. Basically, the German and Hungarian economies have a tradition of being linked and Germans hold on to their traditions. The general impression among German companies that established themselves in Hungary is that they have not regretted their decisions and would do the same if they had a chance to reconsider.
Q: From a broader perspective, what is the German response to Hungary’s EU presidency?
A: While I try to steer clear of politics as much as possible, the feedback we got from Berlin was positive. Hungarian professionals made a good impression and the presidency was also able to advocate several difficult subjects.