Hungary country brief

Introduction/overview

Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Slovakia to the north, Austria and Slovenia to the west, Croatia and Serbia to the south, and Romania and Ukraine to the east and north-east. The population of Hungary is just under 10 million (2016). The capital is Budapest.

Hungarians celebrate their national or State day on 20 August each year, known as the Day of the Foundation of the State of Hungary and St Stephen's Day (after Hungary's first king). Hungary also celebrates national days on 23 October (commemorating the outbreak of the 1956 Uprising and the proclamation of the Hungarian Republic in 1989) and 15 March (commemorating the 1848-49 Revolution and War of Independence).

Political overview

System of Government

Hungary has a democratically-elected, unicameral parliament, the National Assembly. The 199 members of parliament are elected under a combined system of party lists and single member electoral constituencies.

Political developments

Parliamentary elections were last held on 6 April 2014, the seventh elections since the end of the communist era in Hungary. The governing Fidesz-Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) coalition was re-elected and won 133 seats, but lost its two-thirds majority in February 2015 after a by-election. Major legislative changes undertaken by the Fidesz-KDNP Government since 2010 have included a new Constitution, media, banking and religious laws. Aspects of these laws have been subject to criticism, both within Hungary and from other EU Member States and the European Commission.

Hungary's current Prime Minister is Viktor Orbán. He has been Prime Minister since May 2010. Mr Orbán is a founding member of the Fidesz Party. The current President, Dr János Áder, took up office on 2 May 2012. He was re-elected in May 2017. The President, elected by the Parliament every five years, has a largely non-political role. But the President does have the right to send proposed legislation back to Parliament for reconsideration, or to the Constitutional Court for a review of its constitutionality.

Hungary is a member of the United Nations (1955), World Trade Organization (one of the founding members), the International Monetary Fund (1982), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (1973), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (1996), NATO (1999) and the European Union (2004). Hungary is a member of the EU's visa-free zone - the Schengen Area – that it joined in December 2007, but is not a member of the Eurozone.

Hungary is a member of the Visegrad Four, with Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. This is an unofficial grouping that aims to promote closer cooperation between the four countries.

Economic overview

Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). The Hungarian economy is closely tied to the fortunes of the leading eurozone economies, especially Germany. About three quarters of Hungary's exports go to EU countries. Hungary’s major trading partner is Germany; which in 2016 received 27.5 per cent of Hungary’s exports and supplied 26.4 per cent of its imports. Russia is an important trading partner, supplying most of Hungary's natural gas and other energy needs.

GDP in 2016 was US$ 125.7 billion. GDP per capita was US$12,778. Hungary’s GDP grew at 3.1 per cent in 2015 and 2 per cent in 2016. The unemployment rate in 2016 fell to  4.3 per cent, down from a highpoint of 11.1 per cent in 2012.

Bilateral relationship

Hungary and Australia enjoy friendly, co-operative relations with strong people-to-people links as a result of the large numbers of Hungarians who migrated to Australia in the twentieth century, especially following the 1956 Uprising against the Soviet occupation of Hungary. In the 2016 Census, 73,613 people in Australia declared that they were of Hungarian ancestry.

Australia established full diplomatic relations with Hungary in 1972. Hungary has an Embassy in Canberra and Consulates in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. Since October 2013, the Australian Ambassador to Hungary has been accredited from Vienna.

Bilateral agreements between Australia and Hungary include treaties on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition (1997), an agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and the Transfer of Nuclear Material (2002), an Air Services Agreement (2016) and a bilateral Social Security Agreement (2011). A Double Taxation Agreement and an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement facilitate Australia's economic relations with Hungary. Young people from Australia and Hungary can travel and work in each other’s country under the Work and Holiday visa arrangement (2016).

High-level visits

High-level visits between Australia and Hungary have served to develop bilateral relations. Then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, visited Hungary in June 2011. Then Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon Bruce Billson MP, represented Australia at the official commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 Uprising in October 2006. In March 2012, a Parliamentary Delegation led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives visited Budapest.

The President of Hungary, H.E. Mr János Áder, visited Australia in November 2016 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Péter Szijjártó, visited in February 2017. Speaker of the National Assembly, Laszló Kövér, visited Australia in November 2014. Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, Dr Zsolt Semjén, visited Australia in October 2013 to open an upgraded Hungarian Consulate in Melbourne. Dr Semjén also visited in 2011. Hungary's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Zsolt Németh, visited Australia with a business delegation in April 2013. As Chairman of the Hungarian National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Németh visited Australia again in February 2017. The then-President of Hungary, Dr László Sólyom, visited Australia in September-October 2009.

Bilateral economic and trade relationship

The total volume of merchandise trade between Australia and Hungary is overwhelmingly in Hungary's favour. Total two-way merchandise trade in 2016 was valued at A$616 million, with imports from Hungary totalling A$584 million, comprising mainly passenger motor vehicles (A$233 million). The main Australian exports to Hungary in 2016 included medicaments (A$17 million) and electronic integrated circuits (A$6 million). Total trade in services in 2016 was A$79 million, with a slight advantage to Australia. Australian investment in Hungary in 2016 was A$497 million compared to Hungarian investment in Australia of A$51 million.

For information on doing business in Hungary, please see contact details for Austrade’s Poland office.

Last updated September 2017.

Last Updated: 13 September 2017