Amid the tourist bustle of central Prague this week a tour with a difference was taking place. Czechs turned up in their droves when development company Flow East opened the doors to some of its historic buildings. But the developer’s first initiative of its kind is linked to its ongoing battle with Prague planners and politicians.
Czech exports to Ukraine dropped by 43.1 percent in May compared to the same period a year earlier after a fall of 51.2 percent in April, according to the Czech Statistics Office. During the first five months of this year they have fallen by 3.7 billion crowns, or just short of 30 percent. According to business grouping the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, Ukraine now risks being excluded from the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s list of 12 priority countries for exports, the confederation said. The list highlighted states where efforts would be made to boost Czech exports until 2020. The confederation warned that no improvement in business looked likely in the short term due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
President Miloš Zeman who attended Monday’s cabinet meeting praised the ruling coalition for its willingness to spend money on investment projects, saying it had given the public “reason to hope” in a better future. Mr. Zeman took part in the government session primarily to emphasize the need for the government to strengthen the sphere of economic diplomacy and push ahead with plans to expand Czech business interests beyond EU borders. He mentioned in particular Russia, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as offering considerable potential.
Czechs this week joined other central and eastern European countries in rolling out a new virtual currency called Czech Crown Coin (the CZC), a local alternative to other virtual currencies like the worldwide Bitcoin. The aim is to provide a Czech alternative for transactions and to boost support for online business.
The Višegrad Group states and South Korea have agreed to broaden bilateral cooperation in the areas of business, science and culture, the ctk news agency reports. At a meeting in Bratislava on Thursday Czech, Polish, Slovak, Hungarian and South Korean officials discussed potential areas of cooperation. The Višegrad Group countries have attracted plenty of South Korean investors. Most recently the tire manufacturer Nexen chose the Czech Republic for its 23 billion crown investment, a tire plant that is expected to create over 1,000 new jobs.
In total, 84 foreign companies received investment incentives from the Czech government in the first six months of this year, Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek told reporters on Wednesday. Up to 10,000 new jobs should be created in the Czech Republic as a result, according to Mr Mládek. The ministry also provided incentives to 54 domestic companies which should create another 4,000 jobs. Minister Mládek also noted the Czech Republic would continue developing its nuclear energy sector, a plant that will be reflected in the country’s new national energy strategy to be revealed by the end of the year.
The Czech Republic is the second worst country in the EU in which to start up a business, according to a report by the World Economics Form. A survey among local entrepreneurs indicates that the process of setting up a business is bureaucratic and time consuming. Respondents also noted the difficulties of acquiring start-up loans. Only 15 percent of Czechs have moved to establish their own private business, which is the lowest number in the EU.
The Brno-based travel agency Monmare has announced it has gone out of business and declared bankruptcy. It is the second major Czech travel agency to crash so far this year. The company said that low prices on the travel market meant that it could not cover its costs and continue. The agency said it has 86 Czech tourists abroad at the moment, most in Bulgaria but some in Turkey. They will not apparently be forced to cut short their holidays and special measures to get them home will not be required.
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