“Hungary provides great opportunities for Australian companies. It is geographically well placed to tap into the broader continental European opportunities," the Senior Trade Commissioner for Central Europe, Anthony Weymouth tells Diplomacy&Trade.
The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s promotion agency. Austrade’s role is to advance Australia's international trade, investment and education interests by providing information, advice and services. The Austrade office responsible for Hungary is located in the Australian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland. The Senior Trade Commissioner for Central Europe is Anthony Weymouth. He confirms to Diplomacy&Trade that their role is to work with Australian businesses to help them explore International opportunities around the world, including Hungary and other countries of Central Europe. “We work with Australian companies who are looking to grow their business and invest overseas. We will help them through the process of market selection, to understand what the market characteristics are. If we think there is an opportunity for an Australian company in a particular market, we will then work with them to identify the requirements to enter that market. We also talk to them about the different market entry strategies and options. In most cases, Australian companies wanting to do business in central Europe, including Hungary, will need to have a local partner or local distributor of some sort. We offer a range of services to help companies make informed decisions. The majority of what we do is free. However, if a company wants us to do a specific research project for them, we develop a service proposal and a quote.”
Business across sectors
As regards untapped opportunities in Australian-Hungarian relations, the Trade Commissioner says that “Hungary – and more broadly, central Europe – provides great opportunities for Australian companies. It is geographically well placed to tap into the broader continental European opportunities. The Hungarian economy is growing, it has skilled workforce and advanced manufacturing bases, especially the services sector, including that of information technology. All this provides great opportunities for Australian and Hungarian companies to collaborate, to co-operate and do business across the sectors. It is not a huge market but Hungary provides the opportunity to tap into the larger Central and continental European market.”
The Austrade office in Poland is also responsible for markets in Central and South East Europe including Greece, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Serbia. Comparing the Hungarian market to these other countries, Anthony Weymouth says that the value of two-way trade between Australia and Hungary is about AUD 700 million (or some EUR 450 mn) per annum. The trade balance is absolutely in Hungary’s favor mainly due to the export of motor vehicles that are manufactured in Hungary. As for the other countries, the value of Australia’s two-way trade with Romania is roughly AUD 350 million, AUD 130 million with Serbia and AUD 150 million with Croatia. The same trade figure between Australia and Greece is about one billion but the majority (about 70%) of that is actually tourism with Australians going to Greece for holidays. “Regarding all this, the Hungarian figure is quite respectable. However, when you look at markets like Poland, the figure is about AUD 1.4 billion and AUD 1.1 billion with the Czech Republic. Two-way trade between Australia and the EU is valued at about AUD 96 billion dollars, which is enormous.
Opportunities in Australia
Austrade not only assists Australian exporters to grow their international business, but also acts to attract productive foreign direct investment into Australia. Speaking of the possibility of Hungarian companies doing business in Australia, the Trade Commissioner says Austrade has received interest from Hungarian companies wishing to invest in Australia. “One potential business opportunity is that the Australian government is about to embark upon a very significant defense modernization program. We have a budget of AUD 200 billion for this program across a range of platforms and we are looking for the best solutions from around the world. The first contract, which is a submarine contract, was awarded to the French company DCNS, a smaller one for offshore patrol vessels to a German shipbuilder Lürssen. The way I look at it is that we have a budgeted a very large program in Australia and there are opportunities for Hungarian companies to be part of that. Another example the Commissioner mentions is the Sydney Airport. He says that Hungarian companies interested in infrastructure projects should think about opportunities in some of these projects in Australia.
“In northern Australia, we have a very significant undertaking at the moment for developing that part of the country, and it really is about utilizing a substantial portion of Australia’s land mass that is unutilized at the moment. As you know, Australia is very well positioned when it comes to Asia, and we believe that northern Australia has a critical role to play in providing the markets of Asia with a whole range of products, including agricultural products. So, again there is a very significant opportunity to come to Australia and develop agricultural production facility in the north to sell into the enormous Asian market,” he adds.”
The Hungarian population of Australia is estimated to be around 73,000. Anthony Weymouth explains that the Hungarian diaspora network across Australia still has connections with Hungary and they very much would like to see more products and services from Hungary made available in Australia. In fact, a whole range of Hungarian products is readily available on the Fifth Continent for Hungarians and non-Hungarians alike. “As you know, we are an immigrant nation, we have over 200,000 new immigrants every year. These people contribute enormously to Australia's prosperity and to our culture. So, we are really pleased to have this Hungarian community in Australia.”
Austrade also promotes Australia’s education sector internationally. According to the Trade Commissioner, “we have about 700,000 international students studying in Australia right now. So, it is a very important sector for us. Many of those students are from Asia and India. But we are also seeing an increasing number coming from Europe. From Central Europe, we have some 12,000 students including about 800 from Hungary. We are really pleased that there are Hungarian students who are spending some time in our institutions. I would like to see more of them!”