Sunday, 20 April 2014

Czech agricultural trade to focus on CIS, Balkans, Asia

11 April 2013

Prague, April 10 (CTK) - Czech agricultural and food exports should focus in particular on fourteen countries outside of the EU, and ten countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Balkans and southeast Asia have a priority, according to the Agriculture Ministry's new pro-export initiative.

Among the countries interesting for Czech agricultural and food exports are also the USA, Canada, Japan and South Korea. Over 90 percent of these exports now target EU countries.

Within the project okayed by the ministry this year in January, all existing pro-export measures in trade in agricultural products are to be unified, linked and finetuned, said ministry spokesman Jan Zacek.

"The ministry also plans to use information from the state administration and other available sources for finding and evaluating export opportunities for Czech producers, consult them with agricultural organisations and provide the information to trading companies," Zacek told CTK.

The ministry placed among the priority countries Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Vietnam and China.

The priority countries are the Czech Republic's traditional export territories where Czech goods are well known and there is interest in Czech technologies. They at the same time rank among priority countries in the state foreign policy.

The countries interesting for Czech agricultural exports are characterised as developed countries with a potential for growth in Czech exports. The Czech Republic has agreements on free trade with them or is preparing negotiations about it.

The Agriculture Ministry in connection with the project in March signed a memorandum with the Foreign Ministry with the aim of raising exports of food and agricultural commodities and selling a wider range of products.

"The Agriculture Ministry wants to sign a similar memorandum with the Industry and Trade Ministry in the near future," Zacek noted.

The project is not reduced to the said fourteen countries. If there is an opportunity in other states, the ministry will be backing exports to them as well.

"The project will also be targeted at small and medium-sized companies which thus far lack sufficient information about the trading and political conditions for foreign trade and about export opportunities," Zacek added.

Czech agricultural exports increased by about Kc27bn to Kc147bn last year. Slovakia is the biggest buyer of Czech agricultural products. Last year, the value of Czech agricultural exports to Slovakia exceeded Kc40bn. Second came Germany, followed by Poland, according to Agriculture Ministry data.

Czech farmers and food-processors talk about an unfavourable trend and point to the fact that the country exports mainly unprocessed raw commodities while importing finished products with higher value added.

Czech agricultural trade deficit fell by about one third to Kc24.9bn last year. Exports of agricultural commodities, food products, drinks and tobacco products grew faster than their imports. Exports of oil plants, fats, oils, sugar, sweets and cereals increased in particular.

The key territories are partly identical with the list of countries with a potential for growth in the Czech Republic's total exports that the Industry and Trade Ministry made public last year.

At that time, it named Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, the USA and Vietnam as the twelve priority countries.

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