On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment Hungarian-US diplomatic relations, His Excellency Szabolcs Takács, Hungarian Ambassador to the US was invited to discuss his mission, the priorities of the embassy and the state of the diplomatic and economic relationship between Hungary and the U.S. after November’s election which saw Joe Biden becoming the 46th president.
The newly appointed Ambassador shared his views on the scene in the States since the presidential elections and the pandemic, the Hungarian government’s response, the economic recovery plan that helped the business community through investment incentives and grant schemes.
The Ambassador expressed his gratitude to the AmCham membership for their commitment to Hungary, especially to American businesses, “Since the beginning of the outbreak in 2020, US companies created the most jobs in Hungary – 2496 jobs specifically, which is 25% of all employment generated in this period” – said Ambassador Takács.
New era in transatlantic relations
Looking to the future, Ambassador Takács believes an enhanced American political focus on cooperation is expected with the EU and the major political and economic powerhouses in Europe – such as Germany, France, and Italy – compared to previous years. At the same, starting a new era of the US-UK partnership is also a priority.
In his first days in office, President Biden halted the US withdrawal from WHO and announced the States' return to the Paris climate accord, indicating a return to forging strong multilateral cooperations, which have been neglected by the Trump administration.
The Hungarian government responded to the new transatlantic relation in a very clear statement. “We believe that it should be our interest, on both sides of the Atlantic, that we should negotiate a free trade agreement” – explained the Ambassador.
Shifting towards green politics
Climate policy has become a new top priority of the Biden administration. Former State Secretary John Kerry is now the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, an official dedicated to the climate goals and maintaining dialogue with his counterparts, members of the EU, UN and NATO. On a domestic level, Biden appointed Regina McCarthy, an environmental health expert, as the first National Climate Advisor where she will advise the President on domestic climate change policy and lead the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.
Even though climate policy is on the top of the agenda in the US, the transition to renewable energy is gradual, so traditional resources like gas are still expected to remain prevalent in the next few decades.
Energy is a major areas where Hungarian-US cooperation can further develop after the opening of the liquefied natural gas terminal in Croatia. This historic development enables Hungary to import gas from sources other than Russia, which is an important element of the long-pursued Hungarian energy diversification plan.
Last, but not least the Ambassador highlighted that 2021 is a significant year, as exactly 100 years ago Hungary and the US established formal diplomatic relations after World War I. The anniversary will be celebrated with the US government as well as the 1.5 million Hungarians who are currently living in the US.
The Ambassador also commemorated the revolution of 1956 against the communist oppression, and expressed his very deep appreciation to the US for giving home to many Hungarians who sought refuge then.
In closing, Ambassador Takács says 2021 can open new chapter in our bilateral cooperation according to our shared values and mutual interest, while continuing investment and trade cooperation, established economic centers in Washington, the Business Development and Promotion Center (BDPC) developed by the Hungarian Embassy, which has an active role in helping Hungarian companies entering the US market.
AmCham would like to thank DLA Piper and PMI Science for supporting this Virtual Business Forum.