The brewery Budejovicky Budvar has won the sole right to use its trademark
Bud in Austria after a long dispute with U.S. giant Anheuser-Busch. The
two breweries have been battling for the right to use various trademarks,
including Budweiser and Bud, for more than a hundred years in dozens of
legal disputes around the world.
Four European Union candidate countries, due to join next May, have argued for a bigger slice of EU funding. Finance ministry officials from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia, backed by EU member Austria, said the EU should re-channel funds from current, richer beneficiaries to the newcomers in the 2007-2013 economic cycle. The ministers also called for much less bureaucracy in the way EU funds are distributed from Brussels. The five central European neighbours met in Budapest to coordinate positions on the EU and euro zone accession ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers at the beginning of June.
The Czech foreign trade deficit rose to a higher-than-expected 8.8 billion crowns (or over 300 million USD) in April, but a revision of data for the previous three months showed a better picture of the trade balance so far this year. The Czech Statistics Office said on Monday the trade gap doubled from a revised 4 billion crowns in March. Imports rose by 11.7 percent year-on-year in nominal terms, while exports grew 3.8 percent. The Statistics Office also revised the entire first quarter deficit to 7 billion crowns, less than half of the previously reported 14.8 billion. The revision was partly due to a mistake made by the Customs Authority in reporting trade figures.
Czech central bank governor Zdenek Tuma said he was satisfied with the recent relative stability and the exchange rate of the crown, and that the next move in interest rates might be in either direction. The country's key two-week repo rate is currently at 2.50 percent. With economic weakness in Germany, the Czech Republic's main trading partner, and soft inflation, some analysts speculate there could be another cut in interest rates.
The International Monetary Fund has lowered its 2003 GDP growth forecast for the Czech Republic as Europe's sluggish economy continues to affect the country's neighbours. The IMF said in a statement that the Czech economy, heavily dependent on exports to western Europe, would grow less than two percent this year, down from its previous estimate of a 3.2 percent rise. The IMF also said it felt the central bank should hold off on any quick changes to interest rates until the outlook for the economy improves.
The Czech parliament approved on Wednesday a law that will increase competition on the telecommunications market by forcing former monopoly Czech Telecom to allow rivals direct access to its clients. The so-called local loop unbundling should take effect by May 2004, when the country plans to join the European Union and give often loss-making competitors greater access to Cesky Telecom's four million subscriber lines. The Czech telecommunications market is the most open among eastern Europe's EU candidates, but is still dominated by Czech Telecom. Although the market has been liberalised in theory, the alternative operators have been forced to lay their own lines to connect new customers, leaving ninety nine percent of the residential market mainly in the hands of the former monopoly.
Czech state-owned air carrier Czech Airlines nearly doubled its 2002 net profit to almost 15 million USD, despite a downturn in the airline industry and severe floods that hit the country last summer. The airline, a member of the Sky Team alliance, has benefited from a low cost base, rising living standards in eastern Europe, tightening integration with the European Union and Prague's appeal as a tourist destination. Czech Airlines has grown steadily in recent years while the industry as a whole has been contracting after the September 2001 attacks in the United States. Czech Airlines plans to be privatised in 2004 or later.