Record exports recorded for 2017 but imports grew faster

The Czech Republic registered a balance of trade surplus of CZK 152.6 billion last year, according to freshly released official data. While the figure was lower than that for 2016, the country’s exporters had an impressive year, setting new records.

Illustrative photo: fishtik / freeimagesIllustrative photo: fishtik / freeimages According to official government data released on Monday, the Czech economy ended 2017 with a balance of trade surplus of CZK 152.6 billion.

That figure was down CZK 11.1 billion on the surplus recorded in the previous 12-month period.

Exports increased by 5.6 percent year-on-year for a total of CZK 4.2 trillion, which is a record. However, imports grew at a faster pace: 6.3 percent.

While last year’s trade surplus was lower than in 2015, it is still a very good result, economist Viktor Zeisel of Komerční banka told the Czech News Agency.

Mr. Zeisel said that exporters had performed well but the balance had been impacted by imports on the back of strong consumption and investment.

Another factor was developments in the price of oil and natural gas, which also brought down the overall surplus, Jakub Seidler, chief economist of ING Bank, told the Czech News Agency.

Unsurprisingly, exports of motor vehicles played a major role in the record overall exports. While they accounted for “just” 20 percent seven years ago, last year they made up a full 28.6 percent of the total.

Last year the country’s biggest exporter (and manufacturing company) Škoda Auto enjoyed record sales of almost 1.21 million cars globally, a rise of 6.6 percent on 2016.

Looking at overall exports, those to China jumped by a fifth last year to reach CZK 56 billion. Exports to Germany, meanwhile, increased by 7.3 percent for a whopping CZK 1.38 trillion. That figure was over a third of the total.

Some 83.7 percent of Czech exports went to other countries in the European Union. Of the Czech Republic’s main EU export destinations, only Slovakia took in less Czech goods last year and even then the fall was of below 2 percent.

The president of the Czech Confederation of Industry, Jaroslav Hanák, told Czech Television that the export figures showed that the country’s companies had succeeded in winning international orders in recent years.

Mr. Hanák said the government should continue to expand CzechTrade’s network, adding that planned reform of the institutional international representation of Czech industry should be discussed with stakeholders.

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