CATL to build Europe's largest battery plant in Hungary

Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), China's biggest electric vehicle battery maker, announced it would build a €7.34 billion battery plant in Hungary, set to become Europe's largest. Hungary said that it will be “the biggest ever greenfield investment in the history of Hungary.” In choosing Hungary, the Global Times explained that the country offers Chinese companies predictability of the policy and business environment, and is the first country in Europe to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China on jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As a result, the number of Chinese companies investing in Hungary has continued to increase over the past two years, and bilateral trade between China and Hungary increased by 34.5% year-on-year in 2021. Not long ago, NIO, a Chinese electric-vehicle maker, announced its first overseas factory in Hungary, and in June Lenovo put into operation its first European manufacturing facility in the country. CATL has also long been planning to build U.S. battery plants and visited some places in the U.S., but eventually may choose to build a plant in Mexico, due to the U.S.' deteriorating investment climate for Chinese companies.

The Global Times further comments that as some European and U.S. forces are increasingly clamoring to scrutinize investment from China through a political lens, Budapest insists on being rational and pragmatic, not blindly following others and avoiding that its own national interests are hijacked by the political motivation of others. The stability and predictability of its investment environment has paid off. Hungary's Ambassador to China said that Hungary is proud to be the “main entry point” of large Chinese enterprises into Europe. A healthy and steady China-Europe relationship, including the trade relationship, is beneficial to both sides and the world. The two sides should meet each other halfway to promote trade cooperation, including providing more “entry points” for Chinese enterprises into Europe, and connecting the dots, the Global Times concludes.