Development of Czech trade with Russia. Interview with Minister Havlicek

This year has stopped the decline of exports to Russia. For the first two months of exports of Czech companies to Russia increased compared to the previous year by 26%. Imports from Russia, in turn, increased by around 30%. The Minister Havlicek said at the tenth meeting of the intergovernmental Commission on economic, industrial and scientific-technical cooperation between the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation.

The Czech Minister has confirmed that in recent years the difficult situation in international politics have had a significant impact on the economy, mutual trade decreased by tens of percent a year. “Despite the fact that the crisis in our economic relationship has not yet been overcome, I am confident that we are on the right track,” said Havlicek.

Currently, in the structure of Czech-Russian trade turnover is changing, deepening cooperation. In recent years, some Czech companies have managed to successfully adapt to the negative phenomena and to use the crisis for their own benefit.

After the meeting of the intergovernmental Commission Jiri Havlicek gave the Tiscali interview on this topic.

— How important is the meeting of the intergovernmental Commission on economic, industrial and scientific-technical cooperation between the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation?

— Jiri Havlicek: the Purpose of our visit, and eventually the meeting of the intergovernmental Commission to confirm the mutual interest in cooperation between Czech and Russian companies. And this, I think, failed to do.

— How sanctions and counter-measures effect on the activity of Czech companies on the Russian market? Were you able to overcome their negative impact?

— First Czech company, which has worked on the market of the Russian Federation, or they wanted to go to him, experienced a kind of shock. But then, I think we managed to turn a negative situation into a chance for himself. We see this in the example of specific projects, implementation of which began in 2015. Today they can be seen as model examples for future cooperation.

— What projects is it?

For example, the project company Brisk Tábor for the production of automotive spark plugs. She has achieved great success. To localize manufacturing and to obtain the status of the Russian manufacturer managed and the Czech company TOS Varnsdorf, and it is also a great achievement. I have a lot of similar examples. I think this is the right way, and it is not to be missed.

Our task — I mean the Ministry and state administration to help create favourable conditions for Czech companies. It is important that representatives of the companies often met to set common goals, create common projects. And I believe that now we have succeeded — both at a business forum on Monday and bilateral talks on Tuesday. It is not necessary to stop, you need to continue.

— What new areas of interest to the Czech company lately? Or, perhaps, still popular, traditional industries where we have already made a name for himself, such as engineering?

— We want our cooperation covers the areas of innovation, joint investments, and to a greater extent were involved in development and research. Those are promising areas in which we want to strengthen the position. Whether we will manage it in the future? I hope so.

Russians are attracted to eco-friendly power engineering. That can offer Czech company?

— I see the interest of the Russian side. For example, on Monday I held talks with Minister of industry and innovative policy of Republic Bashkortostan. There have a great interest in the participation of Czech companies in local energy projects, especially those aimed at improving efficiency. In Bashkortostan want to build cogeneration plant. They want to go this route, and we have specific Czech company which would like to participate in this process.

— How are things going with the production of aircraft L-410? Are you able to solve the problem of financing, which arose in the beginning of this year? And what was the beginning of the production of these aircraft in the Sverdlovsk region?

All is well. (More about this Minister said nothing — approx. ed.)

— Have you discussed with his Russian counterpart for nuclear energy? Whether the Russians are interested in the completion of NPP Dukovany or Temelin NPP after the bankruptcy of Westinghouse? Whether put forward specific proposals?

— Of course not. The Russians are one of six applicants for the construction of new nuclear power units. Consultations are held in the standard mode. They are held at the beginning of the year and will continue. I don’t see in this area no problem. Consultations are under way. Preparations for the construction of a new nuclear facility is a continuous process, which, of course, within our meeting was not discussed.

Rather, we talked about the possibilities for cooperation between Czech energy companies and the Russians in third markets.

— What exactly is it?

— I’m talking about the projects implemented by the Russian side, in particular, new nuclear power plants in Finland and Hungary.

How Moscow assesses Czech-Russian cooperation

“The partnership between our countries is of a strategic nature”, — said after the meeting of the intergovernmental Commission the Minister of industry and trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov. In the current year Russia expects a big growth in mutual trade.

Manturov said that the sanctions imposed against Russia did not affect economic relations between Prague and Moscow. Russia positively assesses the interest which the Czech side is to participate in the controversial project “North stream 2”, aimed at increasing the supply of Russian gas to the European market bypassing Ukraine.

Czech companies in cooperation with Russian partners can participate in the construction of nuclear power plants in Turkey and Jordan. Cooperation in the framework of nuclear projects in Hungary, Finland and Belarus is already under way.