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中国株レポート
投資の視点
新興成長国基礎データ
中華人民共和国
パプアニューギニア
インドネシア
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Geography

The republic of Hungary is a land-locked country in central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the west, the Slovak Republic to the north, Romania to the east and south, has a short border with Ukraine in the north-east and shares its southern border with three republics of former Yugoslavia: Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Hungary has a total area of 93,033 sq.km and is one of the smaller countries of eastern Europe.

Demography

The total population in 1992 was about 10.3 million. Hungarians (Magyars), a Turkic or Finno-Ugrian people who settled on the Hungarian plains in the 7th century AD., accounted for 92% of the total population. The rest were approximately 5% Romany (Gypsy), 2% Germans, 1% Slovaks and 1% Southern Slavs. The population has declined slowly but steadily since 1981. This trend is expected to continue despite some attempts by the government to counter it. At present 19.5% of the Hungarian population lives in Budapest (about 2 million inhabitants) and 42.7% in other urban areas. The remaining 37.8% of the population is rural.

School is compulsory for children between the ages of six and sixteen. In the 1980s over 95% of all students had finished the first eight grades by the age of 16.

In 1990, 500,000 Hungarians worked in the private sector, and 4,795,000 in the public sector. 29.9% total public sector workers were engaged in industry, 18% in agriculture and forestry, 6.9% in construction, 8.6% in transport and communication, 10.8% in distributive trades and 25.8% in other areas. The average net monthly wage for white collar workers for the second quarter to 1992 was Ft 19,455(US$ 243), a rise of 24.5% over the same period the previous year.

History and Political Situation

The Kingdom of Hungary was established in the Middle Ages and occupied aterritory some three times the size of the present-day republic. In 1526 the King of Hungary, Luis II, was killed by the Ottoman Turks and the Kingdom was subsequently partitioned between the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburgs and the principality of Transylvania. In the 1680s the Habsburg Emperor, Leopold I, expelled the Turks from Hungary and occupied Transylvania, reuniting it with the Hungarian Crown. Although Hungary was permitted a substantial degree of autonomy, particularly after 1867, when it became Austria's partner in the "Dual Monarchy", the kingdom remained part of the Habsburg domain until 1918.

Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in November 1918, Hungary became a fully independent state. However, by the terms of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, Hungary lost two-thirds of its pre-1918 territories and three-fifths of its population. Hungarians (Magyars) were left in the neighbouring states of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia. The dismemberment of Hungary had a powerful impact on domestic politics in the years between the First and Second World Wars, and continues to retain emotional resonance.

In 1919 a Communist Government was installed in Hungary under the leadership of Bela Kun. Following its defeat the country returned to the uncodified "royalist" Constitution of the pre-1918 period. The throne, however, was declared to be vacant.

In 1944-45 Hungary was occupied by the Soviet army. Thereafter, Communist rule was gradually imposed on the country. Under its Communist leader, Matyas Rakosi, Hungary was transformed into a Soviet satellite. Forced and rapid industrialisation and collectivisation took place and no political opposition to the regime was tolerated.

The mood of uncertainty brought about by these changes contributed to the uprising of 1956. After a spontaneous rebellion against Soviet domination broke out in Budapest and swiftly spread to other parts of the country, a reformist government, led by Imre Nagy, was installed. On 4 November, however, Soviet troops occupied Budapest and, after bitter fighting, overthrew the reformist Government and Nagy was hanged.

After Janos Kadar, who had been a general secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party (HSWP) since 1956, Karoly Grosz became a HSWP leader. He gradually introduced liberal economic reform such as New Economic Mechanism. However, obstruction by the Communist Party made it difficult. By mid 1980s severe economic crisis destroyed the Communist Party's unity and many opposition groups emerged.

The transition to Democracy in 1989 was accomplished by peaceful means, after talks between the HSWP and the leading opposition groups. Under the new political system, Parliament has 386 members, of whom 176 are elected from single member constituencies, 152 from party lists in the counties and the rest by form of promotional representation from among the runners-up. The president is elected by Parliament.

The period between the political demise of the HSWP in October 1989 and the first free elections since the end of the Second World War in 1990 saw the further decline of the renamed HSP, while several of the opposition parties grew into well organised and dynamic political parties. The two rounds of elections (on March 25 and April 8, 1990) resulted in a clear win for the Hungarian Democratic Forum, headed by Dr Joszef Antall who became prime minister, and its allies, the Independent Smallholders and the Christian Democrats. The former communists, the HSP, received only 8.5% of the total seats in Parliament.

Economy

After the Communist takeover there was a period of extensive nationalisation on the Soviet model, with emphasis placed on heavy industry, and little attention was paid to the limits imposed by the country's natural assets. This brought a deterioration in the country's terms of trade, and continuing balance-of-payment problems which forced the government towards reform.

In 1968 Hungary introduced the "New Economic Mechanism" which, though still continuing to issue plans, ceased central production directives and gave more authority to individual enterprises. The implementation of investment, pricing and production decisions was decentralised and more attention was paid to agriculture.

After 1978, there was a further spate of economic reforms aimed at making Hungary's production and consumption structure more rational and attuned to world market conditions. The need to maintain its exports to the non-socialist world as well as to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) lay behind the relaunching of the reform. In the 1980s the government introduced more radical reforms including competitive wholesale prices, reduction of subsidies, corporate and securities law, and value added tax.

At the beginning of the 1990s, in common with the other Eastern European economies, the Hungarian economy was undergoing a period of wrenching transition to a market economy. In the case of Hungary, however, the adoption of market mechanisms - particularly a reduction in the use of planning indicators and the implementation of a rational price mechanism - had already commenced dating from the promulgation of the New Economic Mechanism in 1968 as mentioned above.

Since the 1990 general election the economy's performance has come to be a prominent feature of Hungarian life at all levels. The central issues of property rights, privatisation, inflation, unemployment and debt have formed the focal points of debate. In the spring of 1991 the Finance Minister, Mihaly Kupa, introduced a new four year economic programme based on the acceleration of privatisation, controlling inflation and preparing the groundwork for convertibility of the forint. The programme's aim was to fully integrate Hungary into the world economy on a competitive basis. However, the scale of the transformation envisaged is enormous: in most OECD countries the state controls or owns enterprises responsible for some 15% of gross domestic product, while in Hungary the state controlled or owned up to 85% of GDP.

The association agreement with the EC signed in late 1991 has been followed by a remarkably rapid and successful re-orientation of Hungary's foreign trade away from the collapsed CMEA towards Western Europe although recently Western European countries have been raising non-tariff import barriers in some of the areas where Hungary has greater comparative advantage. Hungary's major external handicap remains its relatively high foreign debt ($22 billion) the highest in the region on a per capita basis.

However, developments in the course of 1992 took some of the shine off Hungary's early successes. Having declined by 3.9% in 1990 and 10.2% in 1991, Hungary's GDP failed to recover in 1992., and no turn around is likely in 1993. Although the authorities continue to have some success in cutting inflation (with the help of a sharp decline in domestic consumption due to fear of unemployment), recession is proving stubborn. Another disappointment has been the slow progress of privatisation. Yet privatisation remains a key plank of reform, because only through privatisation can industrial restructuring begin, not least. since it permits the introduction of new management, and hence the marketing, productivity and financial skills lacking in much of the state sector. Capital for the private sector remains scarce and expensive: local bank's loan portfolios are heavily burdened with non-performing assets and the stock market is at best nascent in the absence of a domestic institutional investor base.

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