Chinese electric car maker BYD has signed a preliminary agreement to purchase 300 hectares of land outside Szeged, in southern Hungary, to build its first plant in Europe, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said on Tuesday. According to a ministry statement, Szijjártó hailed the project as “one of the most important investments in Hungary’s economic history by one of the world’s largest electric car makers”. The new plant will be the fifth such car factory in Hungary, Szijjártó said, adding that three were German, while BYD would be “the second company from the East”. The project will cost “billions of euros” and create jobs “in the thousands”, he said, adding that the Hungarian government would provide a grant to the project after negotiations with the European Commission concerning the magnitude of the sum. The BYD project, the minister said, would ensure that the Hungarian economy stays on a growth path in the long run. “We in Hungary support green energy and the green industry, not on an ideological but on a practical basis … here environmental protection and boosting competitiveness go hand in hand,” Szijjártó said.
He said competition to win the BYD project had been “extremely sharp” and insisted that Hungary could not have won the investment “without cooperation between the government and Szeged”. He added that implementation of the project would require further close cooperation. Szijjártó highlighted Hungary as “the primary destination of Chinese investments in central Europe”, having received the most FDI from eastern Asia in recent years. “We reject political endeavours to decouple the European economy from China,” he said. “In Hungary the interdependence of the Eastern and Western economies is more obvious than anything … it is also clear that everybody will benefit from a cooperation between Eastern and Western economies,” he said. Since 2018, Hungary has been among the 20 largest car exporters in the world, Szijjártó said, adding that in the past 15 years the sector’s production volume had grown 3.5-fold, “exceeding the 10,000 billion forint mark in 2022” and increasing further since.