In Business News this week: the foreign trade gap in July is higher than analysts had expected; the Czech Republic falls eight places to 45th in the rankings in the annual Economic Freedom of the World report; the future of digital television in the Czech Republic is uncertain, after a court cancels the award of digital TV broadcasting licences to six channels; Skoda creates a rugged, off-road version of its popular Octavia model, the Octavia Scout; and there are three Czechs among the 100 wealthiest people in the former Eastern Bloc.
On Monday, Czech schoolchildren will return to their classrooms after two months, among them some 93,000 first graders. In recent weeks, we've seen some serious back-to-school preparations. The contents of shop windows changed from swimsuits and inflated toys to schoolbags, pencils and the like. Also, reports on television have been showing how much all the school supplies are costing parents this year.
In Business News: average monthly wages grow by 6.9 percent - 3.9 percent in real terms; the government approves a steep rise in excise duty on tobacco products; tens of thousands of Ukrainian workers are taking the opportunity to legalise their status and escape the influence of criminal middlemen, says the country's ambassador; sales of downloads slow a continuing fall in overall music sales; the BBC changes its licence and gets to stay on the Czech airwaves; and Eurotel is now operating under the name O2.
In Business News: the public finance gap will again exceed euro adoption criteria next year - the outgoing finance minister says that will not impact plans to adopt the currency in 2010; leasing offices and commercial spaces is more profitable in Prague than almost every other capital in Europe; the Czech crown reaches an all-time high against the dollar; and the country is experiencing a boom in the construction of wind power stations.
In Business News this week: the Czech crown reaches a record high against the Euro; the Euro is accepted by half the country's chain stores; RWE Transgas is hit by the biggest fine ever levied by the Czech anti-monopoly authority; home starts grow by 14.2 percent; the world's biggest glass maker is opening a new plant in Teplice; and a family-owned car maker unveils its new model.
Japan's largest glass maker, Asahi Glass, said Thursday it plans to invest 100 million euros (128 million dollars) in the building of a new glass furnace in the Czech Republic. Construction of the furnace with a capacity of 700 tonnes a day will start later this year at a factory owned by its European subsidiary Glaverbel S.A., the Japanese company said in a statement. Full-scale production of float glass, which is mainly used for construction and automobiles, will begin at the furnace in 2008.
Figures just released by the Czech Statistical Office indicate that in spite of the country's drawn out political crisis and the growing price of oil on world markets the country's economy is booming. The Czech Republic is currently the world's sixth biggest exporter, with the highest export figures in Europe.
From the start of this week two advertisements for Prague have been appearing several times a day on the international TV station CNN, drawing attention to the Czech capital's many charms. The campaign is sponsored by Czech Airlines and is set to run until October; it's Prague's first campaign of this type. At the ads' launch, I spoke to the city's mayor, Pavel Bem, and asked him what kind of tourists he wants to attract to Prague.
Three more Japanese companies will set-up shop in Moravia, the eastern region of the Czech Republic. The announcement was made on Monday by CzechInvest, an agency which coordinates investment in the Czech Republic. A spokesman for CzechInvest said that the Japanese companies figure in the automobile and electronics spheres, but the names of the companies involved and their intended locations in the Czech Republic have not yet been revealed.
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