Introductory remarks by Angel Gurría,
Paris, 7 April 2016
I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Orbán to the OECD Council, just a month before the 20th anniversary of Hungary’s accession to the OECD. Today, we discussed with the Prime Minister two decades of partnership, marked by achievements but also great challenges.
The OECD played an important role helping Hungary manage the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, and has continued to support Hungary through the recent crisis and its aftermath. These have not been easy years for any OECD country, not least Hungary.
7 April 2016 - OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary at OECD Headquarters, Paris.
Despite the adverse external environment, the Hungarian economy has expanded since 2012, fuelled by stronger exports and macroeconomic policy stimulus. The unemployment rate has been cut by more than a third, and investment has been rising in recent years. A large current account deficit has turned into a substantial surplus. In 2015, Hungary’s level of real GDP surpassed its pre-crisis level. Prime Minister, we recognise this progress and the effort behind it.
However, like other OECD countries, Hungary is still facing important challenges. Per capita income remains among the lowest in the OECD, and it has the second lowest life expectancy in the OECD, after my own country, Mexico. The education system has reacted slowly to changing skill requirements as the economy becomes more knowledge based. Domestic business investment, particularly by SMEs, is also held back by a frequently changing regulatory environment and entry barriers in network industries.
The OECD has been working to help Hungary promote more resilient and inclusive growth.
We are working together to strengthen public administration, through initiatives like the OECD-Hungary Strategic Partnership for Public Administration Reform. We have also worked together closely for many years on competition, developing a strong collaboration with the Hungarian Competition Authority, including our joint Regional Centre for Competition (RCC) in Budapest. Hungary has also brought its competition expertise to Paris, sending secondees to the OECD Competition Division for the last 15 years. Hungary has also been a key supporter of our efforts to strengthen our collaboration with the Eurasia region, in particular with Ukraine.
We stand ready to keep deepening this partnership and stand ready to support Hungary to address the most pressing challenges that will define the future of our countries, such as education, innovation, migration, gender, to mention only a few.
Hungary has made an important contribution to this organisation for the past 20 years, and we look forward to continuing to help Hungary promote a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth.
We look forward to hearing your views on this partnership and how we can keep delivering better policies for better lives in Hungary.