Business News

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Coming up this week, as the government gets the go ahead to embark on a series of ambitious social spending programmes, we ask whether the rising budget deficit is cause for concern, especially if the Czech Republic is serious about adopting the euro in 2010. But first some of the business stories making the headlines this week.

"99 percent chance" of Czechs closing EU entry talks by end of 2002

There's a "99 percent" chance that the Czech Republic will close membership talks with the EU by the end of this year, the country's chief EU negotiator Pavel Telicka said this week. Mr Telicka said the highly complex chapter on agricultural policy should be closed in several months' time. The new Czech Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas has assured the EU that he'll do everything in his power to make sure accession talks are closed on schedule.

Rise in number working in manufacturing

The number of people working in the manufacturing sector rose in 2001 for the first time in three years, according to figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The ministry credited the rise - some 20,000 workers - to increased direct foreign investment and state support for small and medium-sized companies.

Number of cars registered in CR up 1.1% to 3.5 million

There were around 3.5 million cars registered in the Czech Republic at the end of June, up 1.1 percent from the end of last year, according to new figures released this week. The average car was 13 and a half years old, and most of them were old Skodas. The Ford Escort is the most common foreign car in the country, followed by the old East German Trabant and the VW Golf.

Australia next sales target for Skoda cars

Meanwhile Australian car buyers will be the next target for Skoda, which has been revving up global exports to compensate for lagging sales in Europe. Skoda Auto's rumoured expansion into Australia was confirmed on Tuesday by company chairman Vratislav Kulhanek during an online chat with the public. Skoda, a subsidiary of Germany's Volkswagen Group, entered the Indian market this year, selling about 1,400 Octavia models in the first six months. The company is also expanding in Russia, Ukraine, Mexico and several South American countries.