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Czech foreign trade: surplus of 9 billion crowns in March. Government approves Hyundai investment agreement. Skodaexport almost certain to land biggest foreign contract in the country's history. Poll: Number of Czechs in favour of euro on the decline. Czech crown reaches new record against euro. Ever more singles applying for mortgage.

Czech foreign trade: surplus of 9 billion crowns in March

Photo: European Commission
Czech foreign trade recorded a 9 billion crown surplus in March; 1.7 billion more than one year ago, the Czech Statistical Office announced this week. The rise has mainly been attributed to exports of machinery and transport equipment, especially cars and car components. The period January-March of this year saw a trade surplus of 27.3 billion crowns. Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Martin Tlapa says Czech foreign trade is among the fastest growing in the EU and could show a surplus of 80 billion by the end of the year. Exports have also been on the rise to countries outside the European Union, such as the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, and China.

Government approves Hyundai investment agreement

The cabinet has approved a proposed contract with Hyundai. The South Korean car manufacturer intends to invest up to one billion euros in a new car plant in the Moravian town of Nosovice. In the draft agreement, the state binds itself to support the plant's construction with a 2.4 billion crown donation between 2007 and 2013. The state also offers an investment incentive of up to 2.5 billion crowns to create work places and upgrade skills of the work force. Hyundai can also expect tax leverage of up to 1.3 billion crowns. The Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban will sign the agreement in Seoul this month, once it is approved by Hyundai's board of directors.

Skodaexport almost certain to land biggest foreign contract in the country's history

The Czech company Skodaexport is almost certain to land a contract that would be the biggest project in the country's history outside its borders, the Czech business paper Hospodarske Noviny writes. The state-owned engineering company is the favourite in a tender to build a power plant in India. The company had already been chosen for the 480 million dollar project when one of the other contenders appealed the decision. If Skodaexport lands the deal, it will try to involve as many Czech suppliers as possible in the project, its General Director Jaroslav Hubacek says.

Poll: Number of Czechs in favour of euro on the decline

Photo: European Commission
The number of Czechs in favour of euro adoption is on the decline, an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency in April suggests. As opposed to 58 percent in 2003, only 45 percent of those polled this year would like the Czech Republic to enter the eurozone. 43 percent of respondents were against the adoption of the euro. The government plans to enter the eurozone in 2010, while experts say 2012 or 2013 are more realistic target dates. There are two main conditions that the Czech Republic has yet to meet in order to enter the eurozone. It needs a public finance deficit that does not exceed three percent of GDP and its currency has to be in a +/- 15 percent band in the ERM II for at least two years. The Czech Republic is not expected to enter the ERM II, the exchange rate mechanism, before next year.

Czech crown reaches new record against euro

The Czech crown reached its highest ever level against the euro on Thursday, at 28.19 crowns. Analysts said the increase was linked to a rise in all Central European currencies.

Ever more singles applying for mortgage

The country's biggest banks have been recording a significant rise in the number of mortgages given to people who do not have a family and plan to live alone. Up to 30 percent of mortgages are given to single buyers. In the Ceska Sporitelna bank, for example, a mere 8 percent of those who applied for a mortgage in 2000 were single; last year that number had reached 28 percent. Sociologists say this is a clear sign that Czechs now prefer building a career to having a family. With rising wages, many more Czechs can also afford to buy a home with a mortgage on just one salary.