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Lower house head warns of US duty impact on Czech GDP

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Washington/Prague, July 18 (CTK) – Czech Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek warned that the introduction of the U.S. tariffs on car imports might affect the Czech GDP and thereby also defence spending at his meeting with the U.S. Congress representatives, he told CTK on Wednesday.

Vondracek (ANO) also intends to strengthen bilateral relations during his official visit to the United States these days.

“I was trying to explain that we are a strongly industrial country and that the automotive industry has a high share in the the Czech economy. Consequently, this (U.S. duty) might seriously harm us,” Vondracek said about his talks with U.S. politicians.

He connected possible losses of the Czech economy caused by the introduction of U.S. tariffs with the U.S. demands that the NATO member states raise their defence budgets, which U.S. President Donald Trump presented at the recent NATO summit.

“I assured them that we would meet our commitments. On the other hand, I warned that this (the introduction of tariffs) might lead to an overall decrease in the means we should spend on defence,” Vondracek said.

The aim of his visit is also to emphasise the importance of the alliance with the USA and the Euro-Atlantic bound.

The Czech-U.S. relations are excellent, but they should be boosted by a top-level visit, he said.

Even personal friendships helped build bonds between the Czech Republic and the United States, Vondracek said, mentioning the friendship between the late Czech president Vaclav Havel and Bill Clinton.

“I would like bonds between the (Czech) Chamber of Deputies and the Congress to be established,” he said.

Vondracek is convinced that the Czech Republic can be a good economic partner of the United States.

“We are a country with the lowest unemployment in Europe and a stable GDP growth. People are not leaving, but rather moving to the Czech Republic,” he said.

Vondracek is staying in the USA until July 25 at the invitation of his U.S. counterpart Paul Ryan, head of the House of Representatives, who visited the Czech Republic in March. He had a speech in the Czech Chamber of Deputies and, together with Vondracek, they signed a declaration promoting close relations between the two countries.

Vondracek met Ryan in Washington on Tuesday.

During his trip, Vondracek is also to meet representatives of the U.N., and Czechs working in the U.N. headquarters. He is also to visit Chicago, a city with a strong Czech community, and the state Wisconsin.

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