Accelerating political and diplomatic relations between Turkey and Hungary have been reflected positively in the trade ties between the two countries. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that delivered countless obstacles to global trade and export businesses, various Hungarian firms have been in negotiations with Turkish firms to invest in several sectors – mainly the medical sector – and to find new cooperation opportunities, a sectoral official said Wednesday.
The country is already supporting firms who want to start a business in Turkey through the Hungary Export Promotion Agency (HEPA) that began operating in Turkey in 2015.
HEPA Turkey Vice General Manager Burak Aktaş told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Ankara’s relationship with Budapest is one of the best among its relations with European Union countries.
Pointing out that good diplomatic relations bring good business relations, he said that HEPA operates as an intermediator for over 100 Hungarian firms annually who want to start a business in Turkey.
Aktaş emphasized that HEPA reached a record of 136 new firms last year and it is again around 100 this year despite the pandemic.
Stressing that the pandemic has proven the strength of the Turkish health system, Aktaş said Hungary sees the health system in the country as developed, which allows for HEPA and the Hungarian Embassy to work toward bringing medical companies into the Turkish market.
Aktaş said that Viktor Orban's government in Hungary most recently announced a support program led by HEPA for firms who want to invest abroad to mitigate the pandemic’s economic effects.
He added that some of those companies have already kicked off works to invest in Turkey and that Hungary is also open to investments in every field.
Noting that Hungary is an attractive investment center with the lowest corporate tax rate in Europe at 9%, Aktaş said it is also a gateway to send products to both the European Union market and the countries with which the EU has free trade agreements.
Commenting on the country's medical sector, Aktaş said 1.5% of Hungary’s total production is of medical origin. He said the country has a history in medicine stretching back more than 100 years and provides medical education and research and development (R&D) activities above world standards at the Szeged, Pecs and Debrecen universities, as well as in the capital Budapest.
Aktaş said more than 150 companies carry out exports in the medical field in Hungary today, noting that medical products constitute 5% of the total exports of the country.
The country has been recording record-breaking levels of exports since 2014, Aktaş said, emphasizing that its yearly export volume is over $100 billion.
Hungary's export strategy is to increase the share of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in total exports by 50% by 2030, he said.
"The share of SMEs in the gross national product of the country is 54%, but their share in exports is not that much. HEPA enters into business at this stage and supports SMEs by encouraging them to be open up into international markets," he said.
The agency has offices in Toronto, Moscow, Shanghai, Belgrade and Tokyo, in addition to four offices in Turkey in Istanbul, the capital Ankara, western Izmir and northwestern Bursa.
Through its offices in Turkey, HEPA is able to prepare sectoral and product-based reports for SMEs in related countries and arrange one-on-one meetings with Hungarian firms, Aktaş said. He said they also operate as an intermediator for Turkish firms to attend fairs in Hungary and enable Hungarian firms to find distributors in Turkey.