The II. Business Meets Government Summit hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary and the Hungarian Investment and Promotion Agency (HIPA) was the latest episode of a dialogue between the corporate world and the administration where high-ranking representatives discussed strategic recommendations meant to substantially improve the country’s competitiveness.

AmCham has set a goal “to achieve a 10 spot World Competitiveness Ranking improvement in 10 years for Hungary with CEE”. In order to make that happen, a dialogue between leading companies and the administration was launched in cooperation with HIPA at the first “Business Meets Government Summit” last year, where a 19-point strategic working plan titled “Cooperation for a more Competitive Hungary” was adopted.

In 2016, leaders representing business and government gathered for a second time to discuss what had been achieved from those recommendations and commitments, and to highlight new challenges that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“We are very pleased that the set of proposals adopted last year inspired future legislative amendments, whereby tax incentives for firms running R&D projects will double in the 2017 budget,” Ferenc Pongrácz, AmCham’s president said.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, praised the fact that growth and fiscal discipline go hand-in-hand now, which serves as a solid base for strategic planning. A series of measures scheduled to enter into force next January should further make Hungary an attractive location for investment. One of them concerns a tax incentive for establishing R&D centers as the government’s top aim is to help companies create more quality jobs.

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Employers will be allowed to deduct costs related to paying for workers' housing and they will be able to contribute more to commuting costs as well. On the other hand, those investing into innovative technologies will enjoy tax benefits.

Farkas Bársony, the lead of AmCham’s Investment Policy Task Force noted: “We have communicated many times that a consistent government approach is needed towards foreign direct investments, and last December a standing committee was set up at AmCham for the purpose of a regular exchange of views with the administration.” Accordingly, input is shared on a regular basis on possible improvements to the investment environment, the labor market, the digital economy and innovation.

"The fact that companies’ needs are now seriously considered when making legislative amendments shows that the government is a partner in the process of making the country more competitive,” said Róbert Ésik, the president of HIPA.

Participants went on to exchange views in four closed-door roundtable discussions covering Business Environment & Sophistication, Digital Economy, Innovation and Labour Force & Education.  It was agreed that a change of mindset is required in the whole of society in order to enhance economic performance on a large scale and thereby improve the country’s reputation and the standard of living.