French parliamentarians visit Prague to boost relations

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A delegation from the French Senate, which included the head of the French EU Integration Committee, Senator Deneux, paid a state visit to Prague this week. The delegation met Jiri Skalicky of the Czech Parliament to discuss Franco-Czech relations, as the Czech Republic becomes closer to joining the EU. Helen Belmont has more:

The French delegation was full of warm praise for its Czech hosts. Senators Deneux and Haenel lauded the Czech Republic's efforts in reforming the state administration as well as the Ministry of Justice. They also expressed how pleased they were with the Czech Republic's progress in completing the chapters required for entry into the European Union. Senator Deneux was so impressed with the efforts to conform to European Union standards that he rescinded his 1999 comment in which he claimed that the Czech Republic would never be capable of joining the EU.

"It's true that in October 1999, I discovered areas that certainly needed improvement. But I have to say that everything has changed a lot since then, especially in terms of the personnel. There were elections in the Senate, in the Parliament. In the last month, we discovered that the preparatory work is very good among the 12 candidate countries. Things have very quickly changed. Maybe even my few words helped to accelerate that change. Now things are completely different. Now we can say that the Czech Republic is faring better than the other EU candidates."

Senator Deneux also remarked that he hoped that France would become a valuable trading partner of the Czech Republic, second only to Germany. Dita Asiedu spoke to Czech Trade's Pavla Berlikova, earlier today who said that Czech-French trade had already increased significantly in the past few years:

"From the beginning of the 90s, the total turnover of international trade between the Czech Republic and France has increased five times and it reached 20 billion French francs in the year 2000. Last year, France was also the fifth most important export partner and the sixth most important import partner of the Czech Republic. In the structure of the French-Czech bilateral trade, we can notice the effort to modernise the Czech economy especially concerning the reconstruction of the car industry."

What does France import from the Czech Republic?

"The most successful Czech exports to France are cars and car components, plastic products, textiles and fibres, aluminium products, steel and metal products, electric equipment, and so on. In the year 2000, the Czech Republic imported vehicles, aircraft, electric equipment, medicine, and pharmaceutical products."

Does the Czech Republic plan to increase trade with France?

"Definitely, and that is why Czech trade is here to help Czech exporters improve bilateral trade. The aim of the Czech government is for France to become the fourth trade partner of the Czech Republic."

Author: Helen Belmont
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