The Austro-Hungarian Empire was once one of the greatest world powers and the second largest country, following Russia. It’s manufacturing industry was the fourth largest, producing energy and exporting goods across the world. The Czech lands were the core of manufacturing strength. When the Empire split up, Czechoslovakia remained a world leader.
Manufacturing is still essential to the Czech Republic, making up 35% of the economy and close to 40% of the jobs. Their abundant natural resources and sound transportation systems add to their success in manufacturing. Being centralized in Europe with trade agreements that link Western Europe to Russia, the Czech Republic attracts a lot of foreign investment.
Like the rest of central Europe, the automotive industry is one of the most important sectors in the Czech Republic. More than fifty percent of all exports are automotive products. Additionally, the industry employs more than 120,000 people. The largest automotive enterprises in the Czech Republic are Škoda Auto (Volkswagen group), Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech, and TPCA (Toyota/PSA joint venture).
The chemical sector is another major contributor to the Czech economy and because it requires a plethora of raw materials, energy sources, clean water, and qualified human resources, the chemical industry is an indicator of economic strength. Sadly, in places mostly along the Morava River, the chemical industry is also a burden on the environment. Nevertheless, basic chemistry, crude oil processing, pharmaceuticals, rubber production and plastics dominate the northern Bohemia region and pump money into the country they serve. Top chemical companies are Spolana Neratovice, Lovochema Lovosice, (Basic Chemicals), Chemopetrol Litvínov, Paramo Pardubice, (Petrochemical production) Kaučuk Kralupy nad Vltavou, and Barum Otrokovice (Rubber industry).
To give credit where is due, we must recognize the Czech Republic’s natural advantage. Their lands are blessed with a wealth of raw mineral deposits. Their mining industry is partly what contributes to the strength of manufacturing. While iron ore must be imported, other resources like black coal and limestone are cheap and easy to access. Some leading mining enterprises are Evraz Vítkovice Steel, Arcelor Mittal, and Třinecké.
Regardless of the ideal infrastructure and capacity for manufacturing, foreign enterprises and investors still have difficulty doing business in the Czech Republic. One primary obstacle is the language barrier. English is widely spoken in business, but the saturation of the English language still is lower in the Czech Republic than other European countries. Major documents and industry leaders often use Czech, a particularly difficult language to learn.
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