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Czech Watch – 23 May 2001

23.5.2001 11:00

The Czech Republic objects to a "big bang" enlargement of the EU that would allow to enter up to 10 candidates at the same time. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan argued that the candidate countries should be admitted based on their own progress in fulfilling EU criteria. Also the Czech Foreign Ministry's head of EU cooperation, Jiri Havlik, said the Czechs did not think the idea was “too good” because of the different level of preparedness and economic position of the candidate states.

Compaq is going to start production of the planned 300t computers a month in its two Czech plants by the end of the summer. About 1000 new jobs will be created. Compaq had relocated its production for EMEA countries to the Czech Republic from Scotland. The Czech Republic beat its Asian and European competitors for the investment primarily owing to availability of qualified staff, but also because of the high performance of Compaq's Czech branch.

The interest of Czech citizens to work abroad is stable. Only 4 % of respondents expressed their firm decision to look for a job in another country in the polls realized last September and this May by CVVM. 8 % of respondents this year compared to 7 % last year incline to the step but they are not convinced yet to make it. Also compared to the last year, the share of those definitely not willing to work abroad rose from 33 % to 45 %. The decision to stay or look for a job abroad is not dependent of the fact whether the Czech Republic is or is not an EU-member. 43 % of potential out-goners would like to work in Germany, 14 % in the UK and 11 % in Austria.

The Czech Republic's trade deficit in chemicals rose 33 % year-on-year in 2001Q1, with imports growing by 9 % and exports jumping by 18 %. Analysts attribute the higher deficit to ongoing economic recovery in the country. The data are the more interesting that oil prices fell in the year-on-year comparison and the dollar slightly strengthened.

If the Czech Republic enters the EU in 2004, the earliest date for its EMU membership is 2006-2007, said CNB Board Member Michaela Erbenova. There are several reasons, though, why the country should not hurry up into the monetary union, she added. Erbenova quoted bad shape of public finance as the primary argument for independent Czech monetary policy in a few years after the EU-accession. Unlike public finance deficits, the fixed exchange rate would not pose a serious problem with respect to the Maastricht criteria.

Late on Tuesday, CZK/EUR was at 34.24/27 from 34.32/35 late on Monday. Vis-a-vis the dollar, the crown closed at 39.56/58 CZK/USD after 39.17/19 late on Monday. EUR hit the 6M bottom against USD on Tuesday, which explains the crown’s weakening against the U.S. currency. Czech foreign trade outcome in April to be published on Thursday and revised U.S. GDP growth data for 2001Q1 to be released on Friday will be among the factors influencing CZK this week.

The market was calm on Tuesday, most bond prices slightly rose. The state 6.95/16 bond lost 14bps to 102.60/90, yielding 6.66/63 %, the state 6.75/05 gained ten basis points to 103.80/10, yielding 5.58/49 %. Foreign trade data to be published later this week and state 6.95/16 auction (CZK 4bn) scheduled for Friday can move the market.

late May 22 bond yield late May 21
State 6.75/05103.80/105.58/49103.70/00
State 6.95/16102.60/906.66/63102.74/04

(Martin Kupka)

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