South Korea’s Hankook Tire this month delayed a $295 million investment at its factory in Hungary because of difficulties in recruiting employees. About 200 of its existing 3,000 workers at the plant are from Ukraine and Mongolia.
The labor force of the 21 countries between the Baltic Sea and the Balkans will shrink by more than a quarter by 2050. Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang told central bankers from the region in July that their countries must start importing workers to help address the issue. It’s already happening.
In Hungary, the EU’s fastest-growing economy, there were 49,500 work permits held by non-EU citizens in 2018, more than double the previous year’s figure. In 2016, there were about 7,300. While Ukrainians held more than half of them, Vietnamese, Indians and Mongolians are now among the groups growing quickest.
Romania boosted the number of permits for non-EU workers by 50% this year, with Sri Lankans and Indians joining Chinese and Turkish employees at restaurants and construction sites. In Poland, crews of Mongolian women paint newly built Warsaw apartment buildings.
In Belgrade, ethnic Albanians are working alongside locals to turn the Serbian government’s vision for a swanky new waterfront complex into reality. On a recent visit, President Aleksandar Vucic expressed amazement at how economic need was trumping a history of ethnic tensions.
From Europe’s Anti-Immigrant Leaders Have a Secret Hungary, Poland, and Serbia are among countries quietly importing workers to cope with a labor crisis, September 24, 2019.