Press Review

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"The Czech Republic is Europe's cheap workshop," reads a headline on the front page of today's MLADA FRONTA DNES. The paper writes that the Czech Republic is especially cheap for German firms. Almost one third of products manufactured in the Czech Republic are produced by foreign companies using the cheap Czech labour force. The greatest advantage to foreign companies is that they provide the blueprints and materials and then buy the finished product directly from the warehouse. The Czech company actually making the product receives nothing except for wages to pay its employees. "This kind of production is our daily bread, as we don't have enough financial means to buy our own raw material and make our own products," the director of the Kara Holding leather clothes company in Trutnov told the paper. But this could be very dangerous for the Czech economy, concludes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

And staying on an economic note, LIDOVE NOVINY reveals the latest figures concerning the Czech trade deficit, saying that in October it proved to be much higher than even the most pessimistic estimates. Last month's deficit reached 16.4 billion Czech crowns (about 400 million USD) while the estimated deficit was 13 billion. Economic analysts say this is mainly due to the Czech Republic's imports of fuels and machinery, while consumer goods play only a minor role. They agree that the annual deficit for this year will amount to 130 billion crowns--that's over 3 billion dollars. It's widely believed that the Czech Republic's trade deficit is likely to grow due to rising prices of crude oil and the strong dollar.

PRAVO leads with the exclusive news that the new governor of the Czech National Bank will be the bank's present vice-governor, Zdenek Tuma. The paper claims it received the information from well-informed circles. The paper writes that President Havel, who will appoint the new governor, has embarked on an open conflict with Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus, both of whom are strongly critical of Tuma's views. The Prime Minister has even been heard to say that Mr Tuma's appointment would be a "disaster" for the Czech economy, due to plans to increase interest rates in order to slow down economic growth if it becomes too steep, reports PRAVO.

CESKE SLOVO features a photo of the Czech Republic's most successful sportsman, javelin thrower Jan Zelezny, who has been voted both Czech and European Athlete of the Year 2000. The triple Olympic winner, who won the same poll four years ago, came first with 1,935 points, ensuring him victory over the British triple jumper Jonathan Edwards and Greek sprinter Konstantinos Kenteris.