BUDAPEST: Hungary posted a 913 million euro trade surplus in May, up 170 million euros from the same month a year earlier, the Central Statistical Office said in a first reading of data on Friday. Exports rose by an annual 18.8 percent to 8.995 billion euros. Imports were up by 18.4 percent at 8.082 billion euros. About 78 percent of exports and 75 percent of imports were traded with other European Union member states.
The trade surplus reached 4.271 billion euros for January-May, up by 10 million euros from the same period a year earlier. Imports rose by 12.3 percent to 37.829 billion euros and exports were up by 10.9 percent at 42.099 billion euros. Erste Bank chief analyst Gergely Urmossy said the trade surplus was still large and exports and imports had both expanded significantly in May. The trade surplus this year could be slightly smaller than in 2016, reaching around 9.0-9.5 billion euros.
Takarékbank analyst Gergely Suppán said the May trade surplus was higher than expected which means that the annual surplus could also be higher at the end of the year, reaching 9.35 billion euros compared with 9.93 billion last year. GDP growth could also be higher than the predicted 3.9 percent thanks to the higher trade surplus. While the trade surplus shrinks this year on the back of growing consumption fuelling imports, as new production capacities come online in the automotive sector next year, exports should expand and the trade surplus should stabilise, he added. Hungarian exports could reach 100 billion euros this year, up from last year’s record-high 93 billion euros, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Friday, commenting on the latest statistics. Exports in proportion to GDP reached almost 90 percent — among the highest in the European Union — showing that the Hungarian economy is extremely competitive internationally, he added.
The economy‘s projected growth path will materialise if exports grow by an annual 10 percent, Szijjártó said. He also said that 78 percent of exports went to EU countries in May. However, the data also reflects the success of Hungary policy of opening to the east, with exports to Russia growing by 24 percent in the first five months, he added.