The authorities in Central Bohemia on Wednesday rejected two appeals against a building permit issued to a contractor working for the US-based online retailer Amazon, paving the way for the construction of Amazon’s distribution centre in Dobrovíz, outside Prague. However, construction will only begin after a contract is signed between the municipality and the developer, a representative of the firm said, adding it was impossible to predict whether the deal would be concluded until the end of the month. Amazon is planning to build another distribution centre outside Brno, a project which also provoked opposition from local inhabitants.
The number of self-employed people decreased by 17,000 to 977,000 last year, according to figures by the Czech Social Security Administration. In 2012, the number of entrepreneurs dropped by 8,000. The highest numbers of self-employed people were registered in Prague with 167,000, followed by the Central Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia regions. Self-employed people and small companies with up to nice employees account for 95 percent of all Czech firms and employ over a third of the country’s total workforce, the Czech News Agency reported.
Four central European countries have made a renewed effort to secure imports of natural gas from the United States. Amidst the ongoing Crimea crisis, the Visegrad Group states have appealed to US lawmakers to ease natural gas exports to the region as a way of diminishing its dependence on Russian gas.
Dutch retail chain Ahold is seeking to leapfrog its rivals with the purchase of Spar’s Czech outlets. Ahold has agreed to pay over 5 billion crowns for the 36 Czech hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets operated by the Austrian firm. The extra annual sales of around 15 billion crowns would catapult Ahold from third to first place as the Czech Republic’s biggest retailer. Ahold currently trails Kaufland and Tesco. The deal has still to be approved by the Czech competition office.
On a visit to the Papcel Litovel factory in the Olomouc region, President Miloš Zeman expressed the view that human right issues should not be allowed to stand in the way of business and trade. He said the country’s business interests were sometimes hurt by what he called an excessive emphasis on human rights on the part of Czech leaders, citing the cancelled visit by the president of Uzbekistan as an example. Mr. Zeman said this was a self-defeating policy, noting that since the Ubzbek head of state was not going to visit the country it would not be possible to bring up the issue of human rights face to face. At the same time, the Czech Republic was losing investment opportunities and risking business already underway in the country, the president noted. The Papcel Litovel factory has an eight million dollar investment in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek president recently cancelled his visit to the Czech Republic after the prime minister and the mayor of Prague said they were not willing to meet with him.
The crisis in Ukraine continues to fill the front pages of Czech dailies and in addition to the political implications of Russia’s aggressive policy in the region, there are growing economic concerns for Czech producers who do business on eastern markets. The country’s annual exports to Ukraine are worth 33.5 billion and its exports to Russia, which have grown tenfold in the past decade, now reach 116 billion crowns annually. I spoke to the vice-president of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic Radek Špicar to find out how the crisis
A new package of investment incentives is being drawn up with the onus on cutting company payments rather than forcing them to reclaim cash from the state. The new rules could cushion some of the impact of stricter European regional aid rules which are expected to blunt the Czech Republic’s use of this incentive for investors.
At first glance, the jibe of Napolean Bonaparte that the British were a nation of shopkeepers might seem to ring true. British based retailers Marks and Spencer, Tesco, and Debenhams are among some of the most visible exports to Czech cities. But the British are now seeking to significantly broaden their impact.
A total of 131 Czech companies filed for bankruptcy in February, which was 46 more than in the previous month, according to a study by the consultancy CRIF Czech Credit Bureau released on Tuesday. Last month also saw 574 bankruptcies of self-employed entrepreneurs, which was the highest number since 2008, and 180 more than in January. Meanwhile, 1941 personal bankruptcies were declared last month, up by 394 from the previous month and also the highest number since 2008, according to CRIF Czech Credit Bureau.
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