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Hungarian diplomat brings new perspective to UofGH class

Stefania Szabo

We want to show Canada and Ontario in particular that there are potential markets they should look into especially with CETA now in effect.”

When Stefania Szabo, the Consul General of Hungary, stopped by the University of Guelph-Humber to deliver a talk on the advantages of doing business in her country, she stressed the central European country’s political, economic and entrepreneurial strengths.

Szabo was invited by UofGH instructor Tom McKaig as part of his European Regional Business Studies class. The course tackles among other things: the major socio-cultural issues that affect business in the European Union (EU); the planning steps essential for Canadian participation in European markets; doing business in Europe, and more.

After she briefly touched upon Hungary’s historical and cultural roots, Szabo spoke at length about the country’s integration with the EU in 2004, its robust infrastructure, its stable political situation and a government that is willing to go an extra mile or two to help investors.

As a result, Hungary boasts thriving auto, pharmaceutical and R&D sectors, she noted.

In her presentation, the Consul General emphasized Hungary’s commercial relationship with Canada in light of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which was signed last year.

As a result of this major trade deal between Canada and the EU, a majority of Canadian goods now have access to EU without tariffs. CETA holds a lot of promise now, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Szabo pointed out.

 “Hungary has one of the lowest corporate tax structure (nine per cent) in the world as compared to Canada (30 per cent),” she said. “This, combined with all the help the government gives to investors, makes us a viable marketplace. We want to show Canada and Ontario in particular that there are potential markets they should look into especially with CETA now in effect.”

Canada should be flexible in maintaining its existing trade relationships and should have a “forward-thinking” trade policy vis-à-vis the NAFTA and a progressive mindset when it comes to CETA, noted McKaig, an international trade expert and author.

“Stefania generated a keen interest in doing business in Hungary amongst my students in addition to emphasizing the favourable trade relationship that exists between Hungary and Canada and Hungary’s role within the EU,” said McKaig.

Over the years, several decision-makers from the diplomatic corps in Canada have stopped by the University of Guelph-Humber at McKaig’s behest to share with students the economic strengths of their countries.  

Did you know?

  1. An entire school composed of 14 faculty members and 200 students from the Sopron Forestry School in Hungary were among the 37,000 refugees Canada welcomed in 1956. The students and faculty studied at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and became an integral part of the province’s forestry practices.
  2. The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto houses just two sculptures and both belong to two famous Hungarian composers: Ferenc Liszt and Béla Bartók.
  3. Journalist/novelist George Jonas, well-known book publisher Anna Porter, businessman and philanthropist Peter Munk, Nobel Prize winner (chemistry) John Polanyi, and pharmaceutical giant Leslie Dan are all Hungarian-Canadians.