In the largest investment ever in Hungary, Chinese battery maker CATL is spending 3,000 billion forints (EUR 7.5bn) on building its second European manufacturing plant, in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, the minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Monday.
One of the five largest greenfield investments in Europe in the past decade, the project will create some 9,000 jobs, Péter Szijjártó told a press conference in Debrecen at the signing of the land purchase agreement. The investment is set to receive government funding, with the details to be worked out in the meantime, Szijjártó said.
Batteries are in high demand as the three premium car manufacturers, Audi, BMW and Mercedes, all have factories in Hungary, he noted.
Hungary has secured the two largest investments ever brought to the country in spite of the current challenging economic environment, he said. “Energy prices are irrationally high, inflation is in the double digits in most countries, and the European economy is facing a recession while the world is on the brink of a food crisis,” he said.
The car industry has grown 2.5-fold in Hungary since 2010, with its production value hitting 9,500 billion forints in 2021, he said.
Hungary’s policy of opening up to the East, which came under “vicious attack”, has been vindicated, he said. “We have made clear that we won’t exclude any nation’s companies with hollow excuses. Our foreign policy and our ties with the world to the east of us are based on mutual respect,” he said.
CATL’s investment will help Hungary to emerge from the current crisis stronger, he said.
Meanwhile, Hungarian-Chinese bilateral trade grew a record 11 percent last year, hitting 12 billion dollars for the first time, he said. Growth was at 7 percent in the first half of 2022, too, he said.
“Hungary profits exceedingly highly from its pragmatic cooperation with the People’s Republic of China … based on mutual respect,” the minister said.