In Business News this week: Agrofert companies under scrutiny; Czech Railways in dumping probe; Czech steelmakers protest Chinese imports; bumper tourist season; inflation quickens, and ČEZ profits down.
Anti-corruption watchdog focuses on Andrej Babiš empire
EU Commission probes Czech Railway prices
The European Commission has opened an investigation to assess whether Czech Railways is not charging prices below costs with the aim of shutting out competition in rail passenger transport services in violation of EU anti-trust laws. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said that while the Commission welcomes vigorous price competition to the benefit of passengers it is concerned that Czech Railways may have charged prices that are so low they could not cover the costs of the services provided. Czech Railways is the main railway operator in the Czech Republic and until 2011 it was the only rail company active on the Prague – Ostrava route. Following the arrival of rival companies RegioJet in 2011 and LEO Express in 2012 Czech Railways significantly decreased the prices it charged passengers.
Czech steelmakers join Brussels protest over Chinese imports
Czech tourism sees best nine months since 2000
The Czech tourism sector has enjoyed a bumper season in the first nine months of the year with 14.6 million tourists staying in accommodation. That is the highest total since 2000 and 7.1 percent above the total during the same period in 2015. Many more Czechs visited sites at home with stays up by just over half a million at 7.4 million. The number of foreign visitors climbed by 419,000 to 7.1 million. Germans counted for 1.4 million of those visitors. There were strong rises as well in the number of visitors from China, Taiwan, and South Korea.
Inflation speeds up in October
Czech inflation speeded up in October to 0.8 percent year-on-year from September’s 0.5 percent. Among the main factors for the rise were more expensive clothes and shoes and also alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, the increased prices for petrol and other fuel, which in September exceeded 7.0 percent, fell back to just over 3.0 percent in October. The Czech National Bank has a target inflation rate of 2.0 percent which it needs to approach before it can safely drop its current ‘low crown’ policy.