The Czech trade balance in February recorded a surplus of 22 billion crowns, a rise of 4.5 billion crowns compared with the same month in 2015. The biggest contributors to the surplus was engineering goods and automobiles with payments for imported mineral oils making a much smaller dent in the surplus due to low oil prices.
Czech exporters say the central bank’s policy of keeping the crown weak has meant between CZK 400 and CZK 450 billion in extra exports in the last two years. The Czech National Bank intervened to bring the crown down to around 27 to the euro in November 2013 and has maintained the policy ever since. The deputy head of the Association of Exporters, Otto Daněk, said on Tuesday that if the bank had not taken action the crown would today stand at around 25 to the euro. Mr. Daněk said Czech exports could this year reach a record of over CZK 4 trillion.
Czech export to the United States in 2015 increased by 13.6 percent year-on-year, to 91.8 billion crowns, according to an analysis carried out by the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts in the Czech Republic. Sales to the US amounted to 2.5 percent of total exports, and exceeded exports to Russia or China. The growth rate of exports to the United States was nearly twice as high as the growth rate in total exports from the Czech Republic, which increased by 7.5 percent.
Business is the overwhelming theme of the Chinese president’s trip the Czech Republic. For supporters of the warmer relations between Prague and Beijing, the payoff will be Chinese investment, industrial, research, educational cooperation and jobs. For the doubters, the price in curbing criticism of China is high and they are skeptical about the returns.
Czech exports to Russia fell by 31 percent last year to total around 78 billion crowns, Czech Television reported Thursday. That represents around 2 percent of total Czech exports. The drop is mainly due to the weak rouble and fall off in Russian purchasing power due to low oil prices and prices for other basic commodities. In 2014, exports to Russia were around twice as high, counting for around 4.0 percent of total Czech sales abroad. This week Czech and Russian ministers of industry and trade met for the first time in three years to review commercial relations and how they could be boosted and specific export problems addressed.
Czech pork and milk producers are finding it increasingly hard to compete with cheap imports from other EU states. Individual producers are seeking ways to sell their products directly to end-consumers and the Czech Agriculture Ministry is considering giving them additional support from the state budget.
Chinese investment group CEFC is prepared to take a sizeable shareholder stake in Czech Internet holiday sales company Invia.cz, the daily newspaper Dnes reported on Wednesday. Vice-president of CEFC, Marcela Hrdá, said a stake of up to 90 percent could be taken but current owner Rockaway would probably keep a 50 percent shareholding. The purchase appears to be part of a wider strategy where Chinese tourists would be transport to the Czech Republic, hosted in local hotels, and transported on to other European destinations.
Unable to find qualified locals, Czech firms are keen to hire plumbers, welders, fitters and machinists from Ukraine, iDnes.cz reported on Wednesday. There is such a shortage in some areas that companies are willing to overlook the language barrier, the news website said. A draft government project to attract Ukrainian employees has only been targeted at university graduates but may be amended. The vice president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce said without Ukrainians some Czech firms would be unable to fulfill their orders and collapse.
CzechTrade, the state agency tasked with boosting Czech exports abroad has announced the opening of a new office in Singapore. The city state is frequently placed among the top economic performers in the world with the office also offering a gateway to business in South East Asia, China, and India, the agency said. Design and luxury items as well as food and drink, could be promising export opportunities for Czech manufacturers, it added. Czech exports to Singapore last year rose to just under 6 billion crowns with trade in the other direction amounting to around 15.8 billion crowns.
The growth in the Czech economy is increasingly reflected in the pay packets of the country’s workers, Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday. The average increase is 4 percent, the newspaper said. While large employers such as Czech Rail, Unipetrol and CEZ agreed wage increases at the end of last year, more firms are now doing likewise.
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