Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Hungarian forint depreciated by -9.4% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -6% from 2019 to 2020. Hungary’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 73.0% of products exported from Hungary were bought by importers in: Germany (28% of the global total), Slovakia (5.4%), Romania (5.3%), Italy (5.2%), Austria (4.5%), France (4.2%), Poland (4.1%), Czech Republic (also 4.1%), Netherlands (3.5%), United Kingdom (3.1%), Spain (2.8%) and United States (2.7%).
From a continental perspective, 88.8% of Hungary’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 6.1% were sold to importers in Asia. Hungary shipped another 3.5% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (0.6%), Latin America (0.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia.
Given Hungary’s population of 9.7 million people, its total $120.3 billion in 2020 exported goods translates to roughly $10,500 for every resident in the landlocked European country.
Hungary’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Hungarian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Hungary.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$29.5 billion (24.6% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $19.2 billion (16%)
- Vehicles: $17.9 billion (14.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $7.5 billion (6.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $4.5 billion (3.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.6 billion (3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $3.1 billion (2.5%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $2.4 billion (2%)
- Cereals: $1.8 billion (1.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $1.7 billion (1.4%)
Hungary’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (75.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 23.6% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales was cereals via a 22.6% gain. Hungary’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 6%.
The leading decliner among Hungary’s top 10 export categories was vehicles thanks to a -17.6% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Hungary’s most valuable export product is cars (8.3% of total). Following that are automotive parts or accessories (5%), medication mixes in dosage (3.5%), mobile phones (3%), computers including optical readers (2.9%), television receivers, monitors and projectors (2.8%), piston engines (2.5%) then electric storage batteries (2.4%).
Hungary achieved an overall $5 billion trade surplus in 2020, up 2.1% from its $4.86 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$6.6 billion (Down by -32.1% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $4.1 billion (Up by 71%)
- Cereals: $1.6 billion (Up by 25.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.3 billion (Down by -18.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $840.2 million (Down by -29.6%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $518.1 million (Up by 7.6%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $502.5 million (Down by -20.4%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $466.6 million (Up by 11.7%)
- Meat: $395.4 million (Down by -16.4%)
- Oil seeds: $352.3 million (Down by -16.3%)
Hungary has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vehicles and electrical machinery and equipment. In turn, these cashflows indicate Hungary’s strong competitive advantages under those product categories.
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$3.7 billion (Down by -41% since 2019)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.1 billion (Down by -6%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$879.2 million (Up by 31.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$775.5 million (Down by -16.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$758.4 million (Down by -23.6%)
- Aluminum: -$605.7 million (Up by 2.1%)
- Other chemical goods: -$541.7 million (Up by 24.5%)
- Copper: -$508.2 million (Down by -0.2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$503.9 million (Up by 1%)
- Paper, paper items: -$448.7 million (Up by 3.5%)
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Hungary’s total exported goods represent 38% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($316.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 38% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 37.2% for 2019. This suggests a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Hungary’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe. 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 average unemployment rate was 4.3% for 2020, up from 3.5% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Hungary’s capital city is Budapest.
See also Germany’s Top Trading Partners, Germany’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Hungary. Accessed on March 30, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 30, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 30, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 30, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 30, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 30, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 30, 2021
Wikipedia, Hungary. Accessed on March 30, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Hungary. Accessed on March 30, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 30, 2021