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Czech Watch – 25 September 2001

25.9.2001 10:58

- Trade deficit reached CZK 14.3bn in August 2001 and stayed CZK 0.3bn below its level in the eighth month of the last year. Imports at current prices grew 6.7 % and exports 8.1 % year-on-year. Growth rates of both imports and exports decreased markedly compared to July, with the growth rate of imports dropping more than that of exports. Machinery and transport equipment trade rose rapidly, by 12.0 % (imports) and 14.1 % (exports). The balance of trade in machinery and transport equipment remained negative (CZK -1.0bn). A surplus (of CZK 0.7bn) was achieved only in trade in manufactured (consumer) goods. From the regional point of view, the trade balance with our key trading partner, Germany, showed a deficit of CZK 0.8bn in August. In January to August, imports grew by 17.5 %, exports by 17.2 % and the cumulative trade deficit amounted to CZK 84.3bn, up CZK 14.3bn compared to the same time period in 2000. In cumulative terms, “machinery and transport equipment” and “manufactured goods” showed higher trade surpluses this year, unlike “raw materials, semifinished and chemical products” and “agricultural products and food” that suffered deepening trade deficits. Over the last 12 months, compared with the preceding 12 months, imports and exports grew 20.3 % and 19.4 %, respectively. Cumulative trade deficit reached CZK 135.1bn over the last 12 months.

- Democratic Union (DEU) leader Ratibor Majzlik confirmed possibility of a merge of his right-wing party with the Freedom Union (US). The DEU would keep its label in the joint name the Freedom Union-the Democratic Union. Freedom Union chairwoman Hana Marvanova mentioned the alternative during the last weekend. The merge would make it easier for the Quad-Coalition (4K) to get over the 20% threshold necessary for four-member coalitions to enter the Chamber of Deputies. If only three parties were on the 4K list of candidates, the coalition would only need a 15% vote support.

- Deputy Finance Minister and the country's chief negotiator on the Russian debt Ladislav Zelinka told CTK that the Czech Republic would get "something over" CZK 20bn providing the Russian government approves a draft agreement on the settlement of the debt. The Czech government has already approved the document. Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov arrives in Prague on October 9. “Either we'll get the money at the beginning of next year in January or February or we won't get them at all", quoted CZK Zelinka. Russia's total debt to the Czech Republic amounts to some USD 3.6bn and the prepared document solves 2/3 of the debt.

- Czech Telecoms Office (CTU) will grant only three licences for the UMTS networks. The deadline for the licence sale was postponed from end-September to end-November. The postponement would only concern the sale in the auction, not the first round of the tender The Czech cabinet still expects to receive CZK 20bn from the sale. The government ordered the CTU to complete negotiations on the conditions of the sale with Eurotel and RadioMobil that accepted the price CZK 6.7bn each in the first round but asked to pay in installments spread over 20 years. The third Czech mobile carrier, Cesky Mobil, rejected the conditions of the first round and said it would bid in the auction.

- The Czech crown was influenced neither by August foreign trade results nor by economic fundamentals in Europe and the U.S. Following a slight weakening against the dollar early on Monday, the Czech currency recovered and closed at 37.42/44, up from 37.60/63 late on Friday. Against the euro, the crown oscillated within a narrow band in weak trading almost the whole day and strengthened only slightly before closing to 34.16/19, up from late Monday’s 34.23/27. - Bond prices first dipped in the morning to rise again in the afternoon on Monday. The longest state 6.95/16 bond closed flat at 102.85/15, yielding 6.63/60 %. The state 6.75/05 bond rose 28bps to 103.18/43, yielding 5.68/60 %.

Late on September 24 bond yield Late on September 21
State 6.75/05103.18/435.68/60102.90/20
State 6.95/16102.85/156.63/60102.90/20

(Martin Kupka)

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