Business News: the Czech government debates measures to cushion the impact of the EU-Russian sanctions, Prague hosts a two-day Chinese Investment Forum, Škoda Auto aims to increase its sales in China and Czech farmers expect a record grain harvest.
The Czech government is leading anti-crisis talks with businesses, employers and financial institutions on measures which would cushion the impact of the EU-Russian sanctions on Czech exporters. According to damage estimates released this week the agricultural sector could potentially lose around 300 million crowns by the end of the year, while the Czech Confederation of Industry is counting its potential losses in the tens of billions. The proposed government measures include an active approach from the state export insurer EGAP and the Czech Export Bank which are expected to assist the shift to new export destinations and the introduction of kurzarbeit - an agreement between the state, companies and employees under which firms hit by the sanctions could put workers on part-time work rather than affecting major lay-offs.
China is high on the government’s list of alternative export destinations and a two-day Chinese Investment Forum in Prague this week is expected to put business ties on a new level. Chinese firms have expressed interest in building roads, railways and other infrastructure in the Czech Republic and the country’s deputy trade minister, Zhong Shan, called for greater bilateral cooperation in the areas of agriculture, engineering and tourism. China has also made it clear that if the Czech power giant ČEZ were to call a new tender on the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant it would make a bid.
Czech heavy vehicles manufacturer Tatra Trucks is reportedly close to selling a manufacturing licence to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China to produce at least 10,000 Tatra vehicles in the country over a five-year period. Tatra Trucks has not specified the value of the licence sale, but the Czech media reported earlier it would amount to hundreds of millions of crowns. According to Czech Trade Minister Jan Mládek the deal could be signed at the end of October when President Miloš Zeman is expected to visit Beijing.
The car maker Škoda Auto is planning to increase its sales in China –its biggest single market – from the present 25 to 30 percent of overall sales by the end of the decade, according to the president of the company’s board of directors Winfried Vahland. Mr. Vahland, who showed the visiting first deputy prime minister, Zhang Gaoli, around the Škoda Mlada Boleslav plant on Thursday, said Škoda had increased its sales in China in the first quarter of this year by 8.7 percent. Skoda has three car plants in China where it produces 6 models –the Fabia, Rapid, Rapid Spaceback, Octavia, Yetti and Superb. Due to growing demand for larger vehicles, Škoda is considering launching the production of a 7-passenger SUV especially for the Chinese market.
Czech farmers are expecting a record grain harvest this year, which should entirely suffice to cover the country’s needs in 2015, the Agriculture Ministry reported this week. The average grain consumption in the past couple of years has been between 5 and 6 million tons. Thanks to the moderate winter 80 percent of corn-fields have already been harvested. The record harvest is expected to bring down the price of grain on the market. According to latest figures the rape seed harvest is also expected to be exceptionally good - the biggest in the country’s history.
India's Anti-Monopoly Office has fined more than a dozen global and local carmakers, including Škoda Auto, a total of 25.5 billion rupees (0 million) for anti-competitive practices. Škoda Auto was fined 464 million rupees (16 million Czech crowns) for allegedly restricting access to spare parts, which made them more expensive for consumers. Škoda Auto has said it would study the order before making any comment.