The Czech Republic’s Export Bank and Slovakia’s Eximbank on Tuesday signed an agreement on cooperation in supporting joint Czech and Slovak business ventures abroad. The agreement aims to tap the potential of the now defunct label Made in Czechoslovakia without actually reviving it and to increase the competitiveness of Czech and Slovak firms simply through their joint presence on foreign markets. I spoke to the CEO of the Czech Export Bank Karel Bureš shortly after the signing ceremony in Bratislava.
“In many countries around the world this brand is still living and is well-recognized. I last realized that in Vietnam a few months ago when I was on a business trip together with the Czech minister of trade and industry. The brand still has a very good sound. We are not aiming to refresh or activate the Made in Czechoslovakia label as such but we would like to make a clear statement to the effect that two state-owned financial institutions that were established to support exports are in line, that we share the same business strategy and I think that, as two small countries, we will definitely get a better chance on foreign markets if these two institutions are able to cooperate. That is the gist of the agreement we signed this morning. ”
Do you have any idea how much interest there will be from Czech and Slovak exporters to take part in joint ventures?
“It is hard for me to say explicitly, but this cooperation is up and running, it is nothing new. I can mention one transportation delivery to an ex-Soviet country amounting to hundreds of millions of euros –a delivery on key made jointly by Czech and Slovak companies. So this kind of business is up and running and is very successful. There are no problems, no credit issues. This transport deal to the ex-Soviet state is going to be replicated and I will be very pleased as a Czech banker to support it and as far as I know from the CEO of the Slovak Eximbank it will be able to do the same. So this is more about cooperation rather than competition.”
On what markets do you expect this sales strategy to be effective?
“Our strategy in the Czech Export Bank is pre-defined by the priority countries (outlined in a government strategy) and in many priority countries this strategy overlaps with the strategy of Slovakia’s Exim Bank. So, I’m talking about China, I believe in doing business with almost all of Asia, I believe in doing business with Russia, in spite of the present challenging situation in the region, I would definitely be supportive of any business ventures in Turkey, the Balkan states or northern Africa. These are the target countries of the Czech Export bank and the Slovak Eximbank has a very similar approach, a very similar map which overlaps with ours in very many territories and very many specific countries.”