A Central European nation sharing land borders with Slovakia, Ukraine, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, Hungary shipped US$125.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects an 11.8% gain since 2014 and an 11% increase from 2017 to 2018.
The latest data shows that almost three-quarters (73.8%) of products exported from Hungary were bought by importers in: Germany (27.4% of the global total), Romania (5.3%), Slovakia (5.2%), Italy (5.1%), Austria (4.9%), Czech Republic (4.5%), France (4.3%), Poland (4.2%), United Kingdom (3.6%), Netherland (3.4%), Spain (2.7%) and Ukraine (2.4%).
From a continental perspective, almost nine-tenths (89.2%) of Hungarian exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries. Smaller percentages were sent to importers in Asia (5.8%), North America (3.2%), Africa (0.7%), Latin America (0.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia.
Given Hungary’s population of 9.8 million people, its total $125.9 billion in 2018 exported goods translates to roughly $10,800 for every resident in the landlocked European country.
In macroeconomic terms, Hungary’s total exported goods represent 40.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($311.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 40.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 49.7% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Hungary’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Hungary also provided $29.2 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 9.4% of GDP in PPP. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Hungary’s unemployment rate was 3.4% at May 2019 down from 3.7% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Hungary’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Hungarian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Hungary.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$26.7 billion (21.2% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $22.3 billion (17.7%)
- Vehicles: $18.2 billion (14.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $6.4 billion (5.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $5.5 billion (4.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $4.8 billion (3.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4.2 billion (3.3%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $2.8 billion (2.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $2.1 billion (1.6%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $2 billion (1.6%)
Hungary’s top 10 exports accounted for three-quarters (75.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Led by refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases, mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories via its 92.3% increase in value from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving export sales was the pharmaceuticals category, up 22.5%.
Hungarian shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest uptick thanks to a 15.7% improvement.
The sole declining top category was vehicles, dropping -5.7% year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Hungary’s most valuable export product is cars (7.3% of total). Following that are automotive parts or accessories (5.3%), piston engines (3.1%), medication mixes in dosage (also 3.1%), computers including optical readers (2.7%) then mobile phones (2.5%).
Hungary achieved an overall $4.6 billion trade surplus in 2018, down -49.5% from its $9.1 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Hungarian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports reflect the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Vehicles: US$5.5 billion (Down by -31.6% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: $3.5 billion (Up by 1.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $2.1 billion (Up by 22.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.6 billion (Down by -14.5%)
- Cereals: $1.2 billion (Down by -22.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $809.1 million (Down by -18.3%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $652 million (Up by 15.7%)
- Meat: $542.4 million (Up by 12.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $473 million (Down by -3.2%)
- Organic chemicals: $463.4 million (Down by -0.2%)
Hungary has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vehicles, principally exported cars and to a lesser extent automotive parts and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Hungary’s strong competitive advantages under the vehicles product category.
Below are exports from Hungary that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Hungary’s goods trail Hungarian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$6 billion (Up by 14.6% since 2017)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1 billion (Up by 25.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$1 billion (Up by 13.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$822.9 million (Up by 61.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$806.6 million (Up by 4.7%)
- Aluminum: -$686.1 million (Up by 18.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$578.9 million (Up by 49.4%)
- Copper: -$558.9 million (Up by 8.3%)
- Paper, paper items: -$434.2 million (Up by 11.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$416.7 million (Up by 36.7%)
Hungary has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products particularly crude oil and petroleum gas.
Hungarian Export Companies
Two Hungarian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. They are listed below.
- MOL Hungarian Oil (oil, gas)
- OTP Bank (regional financial institution)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Hungary. Selected examples are shown below:
- Borsod Brewery (beverages)
- BorsodChem (chemicals)
- Ganz Works (automobiles)
- Lehel (household goods)
- Rába (automobiles)
- Richter Gedeon Co. (pharmaceuticals)
Hungary’s capital city is Budapest.
See also Germany’s Top Trading Partners, Germany’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 23, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 28, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 28, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 28, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Hungary. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 28, 2019