Embassy Hosts Tax Reform Panel Featuring Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Publicated on: January 16, 2018

On Tuesday, January 16 the Embassy of Hungary co-hosted a panel discussion with Americans for Tax Reform on “Two Countries, One Goal: The Similarities Between the United States and Hungary in Their Pursuit of Tax Reform.”

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, joined the panel alongside Congressman Adrian Smith (NE-3rd) and Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-6th), both members of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, moderated the thought-provoking discussion.

Minister Szijjártó kicked off the event with an overview of Hungary’s eight-year-long economic reform process. Since 2010, Hungary has built a workfare society based on employment, investments and exports. To achieve this, the government shifted the tax system from labor to consumption. A flat rate 15% personal income tax and a flat rate 9% corporate income tax were introduced over the past few years (among the lowest in Europe), while the value-added tax (VAT) was increased to 27%.

As a result, Hungary’s economy has experienced a remarkable turnaround. Between 2010 and 2016, the economy expanded by 12%, wages grew by 23%, and the unemployment rate fell from 11% to 4%. The number of taxpayers skyrocketed from 1.8 million to 4.5 million people. Dynamic economic growth is projected to continue over the coming years. 

Hailing this success, Minister Szijjártó stated that “We were able to overcome two important economic dogmas. First, we demonstrated that it’s possible to have both fiscal stability and economic growth. Second, we showed that countries can maintain strong subsidies while boosting competitiveness.”

Following the Minister’s comments, Congressman Schweikert and Congressman Smith provided insiders’ perspectives on the landmark tax reform package recently achieved in the United States. They emphasized the overwhelming importance of economic freedom and growth, which are often underestimated in terms of their widespread economic and social benefits. 

The panel then opened up into a freewheeling discussion with input from the audience. Mr. Norquist asked Minister Szijjártó about the Central European region as a whole and its dynamic development path. The Minister highlighted that “Central Europe is becoming the growth engine of Europe. You hear a lot about Franco-German trade as the axis of the regional economy, but this axis has turned. Trade between Central Europe and Germany is 55% higher than trade between France and Germany.”

The panelists were able to constructively compare the experiences of Hungary and the United States, deliberate on an international level, and highlight the fundamental importance of an economic vision based on employment and dynamic growth. 

Watch the panel discussion on our Facebook page HERE.

To check out the photo gallery, please click HERE.