The annual Doing Business report published by the World Bank is a prestigious overview of which countries appear to be getting it right economically and why. Much of the focus is on the hurdles that ordinary business men and women have to go through to start and continue doing business in specific countries. But there was some confusion this year as regards the Czech Republic with some reports about the overall outcome saying it had improved and others saying it had fallen back.
Czechs last year spent roughly 7.5 billion crowns (the equivalent of around 31.4 million euros) on books, a rise of around five percent year-on-year, according to the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers. The rise amounts to an increase of between 300 and 400 million crowns. The increase marks a turnaround after several years’ stagnation; according to the association, spending on books increased due to a lowering of the VAT rate on books as well as the improving economy.
The Czech government is readying to debate a proposed amendment which should make it easier for foreign investors, planning significant investment in the Czech Republic, easier to gain long-term residency permits. Under the proposal, applicants would be allowed to stay for two years before their project came under review by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. Under the current system, investors must first apply for long-term visas.
Prague’s Na Příkopech Street is the 23rd most expensive retail location in the world, according to an annual report by real estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield called Main Streets across the World. The Prague shopping street has moved up two positions from last year’s 25th spot with rents now amounting to 2,400 euro (some 65,000 crowns) per square metre a year.
German automotive supplier Robert Bosch in will receive government incentives totalling up to 44 million crowns to expand production and establish a technological centre at České Budějovice. The government approved the plan on Wednesday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wrote on his Twitter account. According to him, the investment could create up to 620 new jobs. The company plans to invest 2.2 billion crowns to expanding production and expanding its development centre. Robert Bosch is the biggest mechanical engineering company in South Bohemia. Last year it increased its turnover by 23 percent to 18.3 billion crowns.
This Monday saw the start of the China Investment Forum in Prague, billed as a key platform for building future business ties. Organisers, the Czech-Chinese Chamber for Bilateral Cooperation and Prague Castle alike hope it will spur future Chinese investment. This, after the Czech and Chinese presidents met in Prague earlier in the year and signed numerous economic accords in Prague, which the Czech head of state, Miloš Zeman, estimated as worth 95 billion crowns (3.2 billion crowns).
The Czech Republic would like to have a balanced trade and investment partnership with China, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said at the ceremonial opening of the Czech-China Investment Forum at Prague Castle on Tuesday. At present, China exports over 10 times as much to the Czech Republic as it imports from the country. Mr. Sobotka said relations between the two states were developing dynamically, particularly in the engineering sector but also in transport, science and research and healthcare. He also told the Chinese delegates that the Czech Republic was interested in a dialogue with Beijing on human rights.
Chinese investment group CEFC has so far invested 22.8 billion crowns in the Czech Republic and employs 4,000 people. The final investment should total 30.7 billion crowns and payroll should total 10,000. Those figures were released on Monday, the first of a three-day session of the Czech-Chinese Investment Forum being staged in Prague. CEFC has so far been the highest profile Chinese investor in the Czech Republic with purchases spanning sport, real estate, travel agencies, hotels, and breweries. Chinese investment in the Czech Republic has been under focus after president Miloš Zeman said in March it should total 95 billion crowns this year.
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