Comparative data released by the Czech Statistics Office on the 10th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s accession to the European Union indicate that the country’s export-oriented economy greatly benefited from the move. In the past ten years the country has seen its exports more than double.
If anyone doubted the economic benefits of EU membership for the Czech Republic then these figures alone speak volumes in its favour. The mere process of seeking EU entry had a positive impact on Czech exports. In the years between 1996, when the Czech Republic applied for EU entry and 2004 when it gained admission, its exports more than doubled. The year 1993 brought a significant milestone – an 87.3 percent rise in exports – the highest export growth in any single year in the country’s modern history. The rise in exports continued steadily after that. In the first year of EU membership exports grew by 26 percent, as compared to a 9 percent growth the previous year. Before joining the EU in May of 2004 exports made up 59 percent of GDP, while in 2013 it was 79 percent of economic output. Czech exports in euros soared by 135 percent over the past decade, while exports to EU member states rose by 67 percent over the same period. Today the Czech Republic has one of the most open economies in the EU and compared to member states of a similar size it has the most open economy of them all. In the year it was admitted to the European Union the Czech Republic’s foreign trade showed a surplus for the first time in its modern history. The boost in exports was driven by machinery and transport equipment such as cars and trams although all categories of export products saw a significant boost. Cross- border-cooperation, for instance finalization of products for the German market by Czech firms and milk exports to German dairies for processing also significantly boosted the country’s trade figures.
The trade surplus in 2013 climbed to 350.8 billion crowns, a 45.1 billion crown jump on the 2012 figure. And some economists are now predicting that the Czech trade surplus for this year could top the 400 billion crown mark.
In the wake of the Euro debt crisis Prague has sought to diversify its export strategy, reducing its dependence on EU member states (which now account for just over 80 percent of Czech exports)and looking to find new markets further afield. The main target destinations for new business opportunities are China, India, Russia, Turkey and Latin America. To that end the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry wants to extend its network of trade offices in the world to between 60 and 70.
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