Daily news summary

President Zeman holds business talks in China

Czech President Miloš Zeman, who is on a three day official visit to China, on Monday met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks dominated by business. They discussed China’s new Silk Road project which is to reopen trade channels between China, the Middle East and Europe. The Czech head of state, who is leading a large business delegation to China, said he would like to see at least one branch of the new Silk Road lead thorough the Czech Republic. The $900 billion scheme will involve huge investments into infrastructure in the regions through which it will pass.

President Zeman on Monday attended the opening of the China International Import Expo, guiding his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping through the Czech pavilion. Among the many Czech firms presented at the trade fare are the Moser glassworks, Petrof piano manufacturer and Tatra truck maker. Škoda Auto, which is already well-established on the Chinese market is presenting its new model Kodiaq GT coupe-SUV, which is to be sold exclusively in China.

Czech foreign minister says economic diplomacy needs a boost

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has said he wants to help Czech exporters find new markets outside of the EU, on which they are now largely dependent.

Following talks with the Czech Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Minister Petříček said he would push for better coordination in helping Czech exporters. The Czech foreign minister said that next year he hopes to visit Latin America and Africa with this goal in mind.

The ministry is also planning to employ export specialists who will work with Czech exporters in helping to expand their scope.

Czech foreign minister stresses importance of Western Balkans joining EU

The countries of the Western Balkans must be given the chance to join the European fold, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said in an interview for the ctk news agency.

Petříček said the Czech Republic and Slovakia had agreed to work together to try to convince those EU members who are against further EU expansion of the need for this. He said countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and other members of the Visgrad group, which had experience with economic reform and EU accession talks, could assist the Western Balkans in this respect.

The Czech foreign minister stressed the importance of launching accession talks with Albania and Macedonia next year and speeding up the talks with Montenegro and Serbia.

In the interview the foreign minister also said Czech foreign policy should be more focussed on human rights issues in countries such as China, Yemen or Venezuela.

Five charged with large-scale tax evasion in fuel deals

Cobra, a special unit set up for combatting financial crime, has charged five people with large-scale tax evasion connected to diesel and gas transactions made between 2010 and 2012, the ctk news agency reports.

The unit is also reported to be filing charges against an unspecified number of tax office employees, who allegedly helped to cover up the scam. The damage is estimated at over 300 million crowns.

The tax office employees are being charged with abuse of office for which they could face up to 12 years in jail.

Majority of Czech companies planning investments

Approximately 90 percent of Czech companies plan to invest in modernization and expansion, according to a survey of over 12,000 companies conducted by the European Investment Bank.

The Czech figure, which is just one percent lower than last year, is still above the EU average of 87 percent, according to the bank’s deputy president Vazil Hudák.

The Czech companies surveyed said their investment plans were complicated by a lack of skilled workers and excessive regulation of the labour market.

Czech Science and Technology week gets underway

Scientific institutions around the country have opened their doors to the public for the annual Week of Czech Science and Technology, organised by the Czech Academy of Science.

Czech scientists have joined the EU-wide event for the 18th time this year. The aim is to give the general public a chance to take a close look at scientific work, talk to researchers and see the results of their work.

People can attend lectures, exhibitions, science cafés, screenings of documentary films as well as look into scientific workplaces, laboratories and libraries and learn how science is conducted. All of the workplaces of the Czech Academy of Sciences and more than 70 partner organisations are taking part in the event.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should be clear around most of the country with day temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.