The record high 6.6 percent economic growth recorded in 2007 is unlikely to be surpassed this year, say analysts. Czech economic growth is expected to fall below five percent in 2008, due to lower household consumption. Economists are forecasting a slowdown in economic growth to 4.5 percent, based upon a fall in household consumption – they say the effect of economic reform. A slowdown in growth elsewhere in the eurozone is also cited as a factor. Experts say that economic growth in 2007 was so high that it was in fact something of an anomaly, boosted by pay-rises, low unemployment and an increase in consumers taking out loans and credit cards.
Prague is the 12th richest region in the European Union, suggests data released by the EU’s statistical office this week. Per capita gross domestic product in the Czech capital is 60 percentage points higher than the European average, which makes Prague the richest region in the 12 newest EU member states. The Slovak capital Bratislava was the only other representative of ‘new Europe’ to score an above average result. The Czech Republic as a whole, however, ranked below average in terms of prosperity. It came in 24 percentage points below the EU average, meaning that it lags behind countries like Greece and Slovenia. The results showed the large disparity that remains between the Czech capital and the rest of the country’s regions.
The European Commission this week advised the Czech Republic to cut its number of public service employees. In a review of how the country was progressing towards adoption of the single European currency on Wednesday, the EC said that the Czech Republic still had work to do on cutting its public spending. It recommended saving money by lowering the number of public service employees and freezing their pay. The evaluation was, however, more positive than last year’s with the commission praising the country for slashing its public finance deficit. The Czech Republic originally wanted to adopt the euro as early as next year, but it is expected that the country will now adopt the single European currency in 2012 at the earliest.
The Czech Republic may not be thought of as a seafaring nation, but last year Czechs shipped 2.1 million tonnes of cargo along Europe’s rivers. This figure was up 4.5 percent on 2006. For the first time last year, Czech ships transported more goods along foreign waterways than they did along domestic arteries. Transportation of goods along the river Elbe, for example, dropped by 6.6 percent last year. Unstable water levels along this river have been blamed for the drop and have meant that many Czech ships have moved away to foreign ports. The Transport Ministry is considering the construction of a weir to stem the exodus of river boats abroad, but the suggestion has come under fire from environmentalists.
Czech shoemakers produced 5.5 million pairs of shoes in 2007, a figure up
six percent on the previous year. Total sales of Czech-produced footwear
amounted to 2.3 billion CZK (115 million USD) in 2007, a figure also up on
the previous year. The Czech Republic counts 35 footwear producers
employing 20+ staff. There have been widespread redundancies in the
footwear production business in the country in the past year, as Czech
firms feel the squeeze exerted by Chinese imports, which generally cost
less. The majority of Czech shoes are made for export, though the nation
which gave the world Tomas Bata evidently has a soft-spot for shoe-shopping
itself. Czechs buy on average four to five pairs of new shoes a year.
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