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Prague Doing Business

Business Profile

The Czech Republic’s principal industries are power engineering and fuels, metallurgy, engineering, glass, wood and armaments. The rapidly growing service industry is a major source of income, with the related tourist industry providing enough invisible income to help redress the trade deficit. Global recession in 1996 revealed just how fragile the Czech ‘economic miracle’ actually was. Increased domestic demand and poor export performance have generated a growing deficit.

Prague is the centre of Czech business – 20% of the country’s GDP is created here – although there is no particular central business district and companies are located in all parts of the city and suburbs. As heavy engineering moves outside the city, service industries (financial, retail and telecommunications) and manufacturing industries (electrical, transport and food processing) are becoming increasingly prevalent. Companies to base their Czech or Eastern European Headquarters in Prague include ABB, Siemens and Philips.

Business Etiquette

By and large the Czechs are a warm people who greatly value hospitality. In some instances, when dining with Czech business colleagues, it will emerge that the bill has quietly been settled. If this happens, business visitors should accept gracefully (considering the disparity in Czech and Western wages, this may also be a matter of personal pride) and try to find some later means of showing appreciation. Czech society is still largely male dominated and, especially with older businessmen, it is unheard of for a woman to pay for a meal, even if she is the senior member of the team. If invited to dine at a colleague’s home, a small gift is appropriate – a bottle of wine or flowers are best. When offering or accepting a lift with a business colleague, the favoured location is the backseat.

Initial business meetings are often serious affairs, during which even business partners refer to each other by title and surname. The use of forenames is a mark of friendship, however, using them without permission is seen as insulting or demeaning. Degrees are considered important and should always be used in addressing correspondence (only the doctorate is used in direct address). Meetings can take longer than expected and be more formal than the average Western businessperson is accustomed to. However, as the old Communist bureaucratic ways give ground to capitalism, business lunches and such meetings are gaining popularity, especially with the younger generation. However, one should not expect work-related meals to be the norm.

Prague Dress Code

For business purposes, formal attire is the norm. Dress for social gatherings is less formal but often dictated by the weather which can be fairly extreme. Most restaurants do not require jacket and tie but it is always wise to check when booking. It is a Prague tradition to dress up when attending classical concerts.

Greeting Someone in Prague

A friendly handshake is the usual greeting upon meeting someone