Czech Republic country brief
Czech Republic country brief
The Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic were created as separate States on 1 January 1993 from the territory of the former Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic is bordered by Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Germany and has a land area of 79 thousand square kilometres. In 2016, the Czech population was estimated at 10.6 million people. The Czech Republic marks its National Day on 28 October, which celebrates the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
The Czech Republic is a pluralist, multi-party parliamentary representative democracy with the Prime Minister as Head of Government. The Parliament is bicameral. The Chamber of Deputies or Lower House has 200 members elected for four years and the Senate or Upper House has 81 members elected for six years, with one-third of senators replaced every two years.
The President of the Czech Republic, Mr Miloš Zeman, took office in March 2013 following his win in the second round of the Czech Republic's first ever direct Presidential elections. He was re-elected in January 2018. Although the President performs mainly representational functions, the role also holds some important legal powers, including appointing the Prime Minister and members of the government, appointing members of the Czech National Bank Board, and signing or vetoing legal acts passed by the Parliament.
Elections for the Lower House (Chamber of Deputies) were last held in October 2017. Andrej Babiš's ANO party won the most votes but lacked sufficient seats to form a government in its own right. ANO is seeking to form a coalition government.
The Czech Republic joined the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1995 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1999. The Czech Republic is also a member of the Visegrad Four, with Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. The grouping aims to promote closer cooperation between these four central European countries to further their European integration. All four countries joined the European Union in May 2004.
A member of the European Union, but not the Euro, the Czech Republic has recovered well from the European and global financial crises of 2008 onwards. GDP grew approximately 3.5% in 2017, following growth of 2.6 and 5.3 per cent in 2016 and 2015 respectively. The unemployment rate was around 3 per cent in 2017, down from 3.9 per cent in 2016 – among the lowest in the EU.
The Czech Republic is deeply integrated into EU production and trade networks. The auto industry remains the Czech Republic's largest single industry, and, together with its upstream suppliers, accounts for nearly 24 per cent of domestic manufacturing. The EU is the Czech Republic's biggest trading partner accounting for approximately 80 per cent of Czech exports.
Australia and the Czech Republic are like-minded on many international policy issues and share strong people-to-people links. Since the Second World War, there have been two major waves of immigration: after the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, and following Soviet occupation in 1968. According to 2016 census figures, around 24,500 Australians identify as having Czech ancestry.
Australia's Ambassador to Poland is accredited to the Czech Republic. Australia maintains a Consulate in Prague, headed by an Honorary Consul. The Czech Republic has an Embassy in Canberra, a Consulate-General in Melbourne, and Consulates in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
The first visit by an Australian Foreign Minister to the Czech Republic since its formation in 1993 was undertaken by the Hon Alexander Downer in September 2005. In July 2011 Czech Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Milan Hovorka visited Melbourne. In 2007 Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, CVO, Governor of New South Wales, travelled to Prague.
The framework for Australian commercial relations with the Czech Republic includes an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and a Double Taxation Agreement, signed in 1994 and 1995 respectively. The Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Czech Republic on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and the Transfer of Nuclear Material entered into force in 2002. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its Czech counterpart in May 2008 to allow Australian law enforcement and other Government agencies to receive vital financial intelligence from the Czech Republic. Australia and the Czech Republic implemented a bilateral Social Security Agreement on 1 July 2011.
In October 2017, Australia and the Czech Republic signed a bilateral agreement establishing counterpart Work and Holiday arrangements for young Czechs and Australians.
Bilateral economic and trade relationship
Two-way merchandise trade between Australia and the Czech Republic in 2016–17 was A$909 million. Exports from Australia to the Czech Republic over this period totalled A$137 million, with wool by far the largest export. Imports to Australia from the Czech Republic in 2014 amounted to A$771 million, consisting predominantly of passenger motor vehicles.
In 2016, Australian investment stock in the Czech Republic was estimated to be A$209 million, while Czech investment in Australia was A$44 million.
For information on doing business in the Czech Republic, please see Austrade's website.
Last updated: March 2018