AmCham Hungary held its traditional “INSIGHT-AmCham Debriefing for Top Executives” dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Budapest, on June 14. Organized annually as a thank-you to AmCham members for their efforts and contributions throughout the year, the invite-only event brought together more than 140 CEOs and business leaders for an evening of food, fun and discussion.

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“AmCham acts like a think-tank for the business community and is an important advocacy group in terms of representing business interests in Hungary,” AmCham CEO Írisz Lippai-Nagy told dinner guests during her welcome notes. “We want you to feel precious tonight, and this is our opportunity to thank you for your support.”

A short video followed that recapped the success of recent AmCham flagship events developed around the “Cooperation for a More Competitive Hungary” publication. Notable examples include the third “Business Meets Government Summit” (September 2017), the “Competitive Education Conference” (May 2017), and the “Digital 'MythBusting' Conference” (May 3, 2018). AmCham also makes its presence felt through its annual “Compliance Conference” and "Business Meets Universities" innovation workshop, while the organization's fourth biannual “HR Dream Day” took place on May 30.

All told, AmCham organized more than 80 major events in 2017 alone, attracting more than 4,800 participants.

For some added perspective on AmCham’s recent and upcoming efforts,  Lippai-Nagy was joined onstage by Róbert Ésik, president of the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), and Dr. Farkas Bársony, president of AmCham Hungary’s Board of Directors, and a partner at PwC CEE.

“AmCham is constantly giving us good ideas,” HIPA’s Ésik noted. “Your combined action across many fields generates a deep pool of ideas put forward to the politicians.” 

Dr. Bársony affirmed that AmCham’s advocacy role continues to bear fruit.

“We’ve actually been able to raise our level of advocacy,” he said. “In fact, the business community's relationship with the government has never been so good. Why? Because we carry a lot of weight in the Hungarian economy. AmCham member businesses represent 36% of Hungarian exports and employ 220,000 people, so our voice is being heard better than ever.”

Dr. Bársony added that AmCham’s good relationship with the Hungarian government continues, and a Business Forum with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó took place very recently, on June 15, also at the Marriott Hotel.

“Meanwhile, in order to ensure Hungary’s competitive future, we continue to focus on our four main pillars of activity: investment, building a competitive workforce, innovation, and digitalization,” Dr. Bársony explained.

To conclude the pre-dinner discussion, the AmCham CEO asked her guests to elaborate on some of the changes that the Hungary-based business community has triggered in recent years.

“The business community has been influential in bringing a single-digit corporate income tax to Hungary [9%], the lowest in the EU,” Ésik replied. “We’re also concentrating about how to further reduce the tax burden.”

Ésik added that HIPA is now concentrating on issues related to labor mobility and labor regulations in the context of a market geared toward technology and innovation.

“Naturally, we are focused on R&D and innovation, as well as how digitalization can improve productivity levels,” said Ésik.

“Innovation is indeed a significant market that will create many jobs,” Dr. Bársony noted. “We also need to figure out ways to draw people back to Hungary who have moved abroad. We need to let them know about new opportunities.”