Exports rose to record levels in 2013, largely thanks to a surge in the second half of the year. But some surprising countries feature in the list of biggest sales increases and Czech exporters appear to have had mixed success in expanding markets in countries targeted as top priority by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Czech exports soared by 7.3 percent in the second half of 2013, contributing largely to the 2.8 percent rise over the whole year to the record figure of 3.157 trillion crowns. Overall, Czech exports have been steadily rising ever since a sharp slump in 2009, when they fell to just over 2.1 trillion crowns.
A breakdown of the destination countries by the Czech Statistics Office shows some surprising successes in 2013. Exports to Turkey climbed by 30.3 percent, to Australia by 29 percent, and to Japan by almost 21 percent.
Double digit export rises were also recorded with Hungary, China, Denmark, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and Romania. Most of these countries are not in themselves very significant markets with the biggest, Hungary, accounting for sales last year of almost 82 billion crowns, or around 2.6 percent of total Czech exports. Even so, the growth figures will be an encouraging sign as Prague seeks to diversify its sales abroad and in particular to expand outside Europe.
Czech exports to Japan have quadrupled over the over the last 10 years. A major role in this has been played by sales of key car components, such as parts for diesel motors. toys, television and audio equipment, scrap metal, boilers and other mechanical parts, and wood. Yet Japan, a tough export market to crack, still represents just half a percent of total Czech exports.
A debate in the radio office last week focused on what exactly the Czech Republic sells to China. The answer is cars and tractor and car parts, though Škoda Auto assembles many of its cars sold in China locally; components for high voltage electricity networks, microscopes, toys, and scrap metal. Czech companies, in particular Škoda Auto and tram, trolleybus and metro carriage producer Škoda Transportation, are also earning from licences for the use of their know-how by Chinese companies. A 10 year deal for a Chinese company to produce up to 400 trams has been signed by the Plzeň manufacturer.
The Škoda companies, no longer connected by more than history, were also the driving forces in pushing up exports to Turkey last year. Škoda Auto increased its sales there by 23 percent with sales of almost 13,000 cars. Škoda Transportation started delivering trams to the Turkish city of Konya with around 60 units to be handed over.
One off factors appear to be responsible for the sharp rise in exports to Australia. In particular, cars produced at the East Moravian Hyundai plant at Nošovice were directed there last year to fill in for problems with production and deliveries from the usual sources in South Korea.
Only two of the countries, China and Turkey, with double digit export growth from last year feature on the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade’s list of 12 top priority countries for export promotion.
Most of the remaining countries listed there, specifically India, Iraq, Russia, the United States, Serbia and Ukraine, witnessed drops in Czech exports. But exports to fellow priority targets, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Vietnam, increased.