Relations between Qatar and Hungary are based on decades of friendship, mutual respect, and the sharing of many social and humanitarian values. The two countries have a common and firm belief in the importance of maintaining international peace and stability, settling disputes through dialogue and peaceful means and having an active and influential role in this matter at the regional and international levels.
In the context of these principles and as an embodiment of its noble goals, the official visit of Hungarian President Katalin Novak to Doha aims to discuss bilateral relations and ways to support and enhance them in various fields, as well as review the most important and current international issues of mutual interest.
President Novak’s visit is expected to further contribute to improving bilateral relations in many fields as well as launch new horizons of co-operation thus servicing the goals, aspirations and common interests of the two countries and their friendly peoples.
Qatar and Hungary established relations at the level of non-resident embassies in 1990. Relations witnessed a major shift in 2004 with the opening of the two countries’ embassies, representing the keenness to develop relations between the two sides and build bridges of co-operation and joint work, which even grew stronger during the past years.
The relations have grown in many fields and have reached an unprecedented level thanks to high-level visits exchanged between the two sides and the signing of a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU) in the fields of politics, commercial, industry, culture, art, tourism, sports, air services, energy, economics, business, education, higher education and scientific research, as well as avoidance of double taxation and prevention of financial evasion.
These relations were consolidated after the important official visit made by His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to Hungary on June 12, 2002, while the first visit of a Hungarian president to Qatar was by former president Janos Ader in May 2014.
When it comes to recent visits between Qatar and Hungary, the most prominent was His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s official visit to Hungary in August last year, during which His Highness discussed with President Novak and Prime Minister Viktor Orban co-operation relations and ways to strengthen and advance them, notably in the economy, investment and energy fields, as well as discussing the most prominent regional and international topics and developments of mutual interest.
The Amir and the prime minister also witnessed the signing of agreements between the governments of the two countries in environmental protection, diplomatic training, youth and sports and agriculture.
Following the Amir’s visit to Budapest, Qatar and Hungary announced that they had raised the level of bilateral relations to the level of a strategic one.
Orban also recently made several visits to Doha, the most recent of which was in May 2023, where he expressed his country’s intention to raise its relationship with Doha to a strategic level to become one of its most important political and economic partners.
Mutual visits at all levels and agreements signed between Qatar and Hungary contributed to bringing the countries’ business communities and investors together.
In July 2023, Budapest hosted the third session of the Qatari-Hungarian Joint Economic Committee. The session discussed co-operation in various key sectors such as trade, investment, construction, infrastructure, agriculture, maritime transport, civil aviation, health, education and information technology.
Qatar and Hungary also agreed during the third session to take the necessary steps to move forward in consolidating trade and investment co-operation between the two countries with the aim of increasing the volume of trade exchange and facilitating the flow of goods, services and investments.
Last March, a round of political consultations was held in Budapest between the foreign ministries of Qatar and Hungary where they discussed co-operation relations between the two sides and ways to support and enhance them.
With their interest in developing economic and trade relations and exploring broader horizons for intra-trade, the prospects for co-operation between Qatar and Hungary appear promising in the future.
In 2022, the volume of trade exchange between Qatar and Hungary reached about $77mn, showing that the two countries are still far from utilising all the trade opportunities and capabilities available.
Hungary hopes that Qatar will become a leading export destination in the future for Hungarian companies while Qataris can view Hungary as a leading investment destination, especially in the automobile industry, chemical industries, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure projects, agriculture and more.
The investment climate in Hungary also stimulates the establishment of joint Qatari-Hungarian projects. There is great interest on Budapest’s part in facilitating business for Qatari investors and the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) supports the establishment of these joint projects.
On the other hand, the market in Qataris full of opportunities for cooperation, especially in light of the incentives provided by the state to encourage investments notably in the sectors of industry, agriculture, tourism and more.
The investment environment in Qatar is encouraging and its laws, legislation and procedures facilitate the launch and practice of business. There is an advanced infrastructure as well as many opportunities in the free and industrial zones.
Located in Central Europe surrounded by land on all sides and with no access to the sea, Hungary has an area of about 93,000 sq km and its population is estimated at 9.7mn. Forests cover about 20% of its lands, and its key river is the Danube River.
Hungary is also a global tourist destination that is visited annually by about 30mn people due to its picturesque nature and is also known for its hot baths that are used for natural treatment.
The Hungarian economy is currently based mainly on the services sector, which represents two-thirds of the GDP, followed by industry at 24%, and the agricultural and construction sectors. The automotive industry and related industries occupy advanced positions within the industrial sector, as some German and Japanese companies make large investments in this field.
Hungary is actively seeking to attract more foreign investments, especially as it is rich in many natural resources, the most important of which are: bauxite, coal, iron ore, manganese, natural gas and oil. It exports machinery, equipment, agricultural products, food and livestock, and mainly imports fuel and mineral raw materials.