The first and foremost task of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hungary is to help its 180 members conduct business with good services and events. Also the Chamber is to represent British business values in Hungary.
When Gergely Mikola took over as Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hungary (BCCH) in May 2008, “there were no visible signs of the world economic crisis, yet. Towards the end of that year, things began changing quickly to which companies reacted fairly rapidly. We, as a chamber, had to do the same,” he recalls to Diplomacy and Trade magazine.
By then, Mikola had worked with the BCCH in the CSR area and then as member of the Executive Committee. “This experience helped me determine the direction of changes with which we had to respond to the conditions. The world of chambers has gone through a lot of changes. Nowadays, it is rather the business benefits that members look for than simply joining a chamber according to the nationality of ownership. Competition among the different chambers is great and companies choose according to benefits.”
The task was to sit down and make changes to increase the Chamber’s competitiveness but the crisis made changes even more urgent. “We found that – in accordance with our mission – we should continue to facilitate trade flow between the United Kingdom and Hungary and represent the British business values of transparency, social responsibility, and dialogue. These should be our distinctive features in the future as well,” he stresses.
The BCCH laid down a strategy of three pillars. “The first and foremost is to help our 180 members conduct business with good services and events. We have 50-60 events a year, of which there are professional as well as networking ones,” the Chairman says. The second objective is to contribute to making the Hungarian business climate competitive. Mikola says “the Chamber does not represent the interests of certain industries, only generally accepted interests such as transparency and curtailing administrative burdens. We have also initiated changes in the Labor Code.”
The third pillar is assisting Hungary to become an attractive investment environment. “Even back in 2008, we organized a forum in London for regional leaders presenting East Central Europe. I believe Hungary’s EU Presidency from January will open many new opportunities in this respect. Hungary is a very open economy and it is vital to do well in the regional as well as the global investment competition,” Mikola points out.
On the occasion of Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency, the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE), where Gergely Mikola is a member of the Executive Committee, requested inputs from its 10,000-strong membership from 31 countries regarding what the British investment community proposes to the Hungarian presidency as priority issues. This was made into a position paper that we shared with the previous and the current Hungarian government. “I believe this way, the BCCH – that celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2011 – can contribute to improving Hungary’s reputation, which then results in greater competitiveness and in being a more attractive location for investment,” Mikola concludes.