Czech Republic welcomes increase in China business: Trade minister

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The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. [Photo/VCG]

Mutual trade between China and the Czech Republic has seen a remarkable increase by almost 400 percent from 2013 to 2017, making China the third-largest trading partner of the Czech Republic, according to official statistics revealed at the Czech–China Business Forum held in Shanghai on Tuesday.

"We welcome that China aims to open its door wider to imported products and fully acknowledge the belief that free trade needs to be firmly upheld to ensure sustained global economic growth," Marta Novakova, minister of Trade and Industry of the Czech Republic, said at the forum.

Bilateral relations between the two countries are at their historical best, Novakova continued, adding that next year will be the 70th anniversary of Sino-Czech relations.

"The governments of our two countries established a comprehensive strategic partnership and adopted a bilateral cooperation plan under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2016, which maps out the fields and directions of joint activities, namely in trade, investment and a number of other areas," the minister said. "Based on the plan, we will provide activities aiming to broaden people-to-people exchanges, develop joint projects and consolidate a foundation for the long-term and steady development of bilateral ties."

For example, the country's leading company in online travel ticketing, Kiwi, signed a cooperation deal with Shanghai-based Spring Airlines, as an expansion of its business to the Chinese market.

As a member joining CIIE, the Czech country pavilion is designed to present the very essence of the official motto - "Czech Republic, Land of Stories".

The country brings exhibits and products that have been imported to China for decades. Traditional Czech crafts, like glassmaking, musical instruments and toy production, along with high-tech automotive, aerospace, heavy machinery and VR, are displayed.

Czech agriculture and taste is represented by its beer, wine, healing water, cakes and other quality products, as well as by the dish prepared in the Czech restaurant in Shanghai.

The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, came to Shanghai at the personal invitation of President Xi Jinping to attend the inaugural CIIE yesterday. This is his fourth visit to China since 2014.

"Nowadays, machinery and transport equipment are still the backbone of Czech export structure. This traditional segment is represented on the Chinese market, namely by Skoda cars now manufactured in China and frequently visible on Chinese streets and roads," Novakova added.

Bernhard Maier, CEO of Skoda Auto, claimed that China has become the largest single market for Skoda today, just within three years.

In the first nine months of this year, Skoda delivered over 2400,000 vehicles in China, an increase of 17 percent compared to last year, according to Maier.

"We are investing in the expansion of our model range, the promotion of e-mobility and the development of new mobility services in line with our overall goals, and China is the good market for e-mobility and other technologies, such as artificial intelligence or big data," Maier said.

"The next milestone is our Skoda Kodiaq GT - a new coupe - SUV built exclusively for the Chinese market. Its test took place yesterday during the China International Import Expo," he said.