Osama bin Laden believed to use Czech products

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There have been allegations that Osama bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire whom U.S. President, George W. Bush has named the prime suspect of last Tuesday's horrendous attacks on the United States, has had business links with the Czech Republic. According to the Czech Defence Minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, bin Laden controls a large network of business organisations, one of which allegedly - on bin Laden's behalf - bought tractors from the Czech tractor manufacturer, Zetor. In the international effort to fight terrorism, one important factor expressed by the world leaders is the cutting-off of bin Laden's financial sources. This is easier said than done. Zetor's management, for example, noted that there was no indication of a bin Laden link, neither has there been any sale of Zetor tractors to the Middle East in the last two years. It is clear that tracking down bin Laden and his supporters will not be an easy task. Earlier today, Dita Asiedu spoke to Martin Tlapa of Czech Trade to find out what the Czech Republic could do to minimise its contribution to the financial strengthening of suspected terrorist organisations:

"It is important for Czech companies to be fully informed about their business partners, to check them and to look at who the companies are that are buying the Czech products. They need to do their homework before any export operation takes place."

But how much information can they actually get to? A tractor is not a weapon and it is very difficult to get more than the basic information about the companies that buy the products.

"It is true that tractors are not on the list of prohibited items but there are some items that have to get approval from the license office of the Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. So there are some products which first need to get a license to be exported. Another thing is that the companies exporting to sensitive countries should contact our embassies abroad and ask for information about the business partners there."

Do you think that Tuesday's attacks on the U.S.A. will affect the Czech market or Czech trade?

"Monday morning's opening of the US financial market will be very important. The biggest impact will be in the prices of gas and natural sources, which will increase inflation in the Czech Republic, leaving a negative impact on the competitiveness of Czech products. But at this moment, Czech Trade does not see any dramatic impact on prices. The economy is growing, we have a very good GDP growth, so we expect that the economy might slow down but not enough to fall into recession."