The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Commercial Conditions in Czechoslovakia

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4338005The Czechoslovak Review, volume 3, no. 8 — Commercial Conditions in Czechoslovakia1919John Anton Sokol

Commercial Conditions in Czechoslovakia


Secretary of the Czechoslovak Chamber of Commerce of America.

There are many conflicting reports regarding the present conditions in Czechoslovakia. Some of these reports are doing harm and injustice, not only to Czechoslovakia and its people, but to America as well, as America has a very promising field and future here. The writer has travelled considerably through Bohemia, met most of its leaders, and has found that the country and its people, although in a nervous state of mind from the effects of the war, are gradually working themselves out of their chaotic condition, and are adopting rational and constructive principles in all their lines. Many of these unjust and untrustworthy reports are circulated by their former enemy, and have a tendency to hold back American financiers and business men from entering this field, where, on the other hand, certain other countries, such as France, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, and even Germany are taking advantage to get into this market now, even under present difficulties and restrictions.

Germans in Bohemia and Moravia and Magyars in Slovakia who formerly controlled the Czechoslovak nation are hard losers. They are using every means not only at home, but in all foreign countries as well, to hinder the gradual establish ment of a good government in Czechoslovakia. The people know this and are determined to conquer these former enemies. They are willing to put up with all kinds of sufferings now, as they have done for 300 years. But they are very alert and eager to get control of all that rightly belongs to them, in order to be really free politically and economically.

To accomplish this, strict rules and measures are being introduced by the new Government. These are now working a hardship on many, especially on importers and exporters. However, they are for the good of the new Republic, and as conditions are adjusting themselves, it is hoped that unrestricted, improved commerce will soon follow.

The Czechoslovak Republic offers exceptionally good field for the American exporter and importer. The people in every walk of life here believe in America. They know what America has done for them, and they feel that they owe a great deal to her and are ready to reciprocate many times over. Everywhere I travelled, from the largest city to the smallest hamlet, I found the most cordial feeling of gratitude toward America and its people. In most of the public buildings and private homes you see the Stars and Stripes along with the colors of the Czechoslovak Republic, and President Wilson’s picture displayed with that of President Masaryk. Every tongue expresses the sincere hope that they may soon enjoy the same liberty, love and freedom that we have in America. All foreigners who had an opportunity to study the people here closely are satisfied that the people are able to govern themselves. Exporters and manufacturers should lose no opportunity to enter this promising field. The people here do not want to do business with their former enemies who controlled their industry before the war. This is one reason why there are many restrictions in force now. On the other hand, friendly nations, and particularly America, will receive every encouragement possible to facilitate commercial relations.

To go into the details of rules and restrictions would take up too much space. They will be abolished, when the reconstruction plans of Europe are more advanced. Some of the principal difficulties now are: Lack of Czechoslovak monetary system which has not yet been established, and the temporary use of the Austrian money, merely stamped so as to indicate that it is now Czechoslovak. Further, the country has been drained and robbed of everything that the Austrians and Germans could carry away. There is very little here now to be exported, although in normal times the territory now belonging to the Czechoslovak Republic produced 90% of all Austrian manufactures, and 80% of the total exports. It will take about eight years for the country to get back to the normal basis. The people are working very hard. Everywhere every inch of ground is cultivated. Many industrial plants are working now. The balance will start upon receipt of raw materials. Articles mostly needed to get these industries into full operation are cotton, wool, fats, oils, jute, hemp, chemicals, copper, etc. Food of which the country was cleaned out bare is being supplied mostly by the American Food Administration and American Relief Roard. Food will have to be supplied to Czechoslovakia even in the next crop year, as this year’s harvest will amount to only about eight months’ supplies. American food will always find a good market here, as the people are cultivating a taste for American dishes.

Our banking institutions and manufacturers should study carefully Czechoslovakia, and extend to them every facility to become one of America’s best customers. The other nations have their agents here working to establish connections. They are preparing to extend credit to their business houses here.

Before the war Germany bought raw materials in all parts of the world. She sold them to manufacturers here, took their finished products to Germany, and sold them stamped “Made in Germany”. These goods will now go out stamped “Made in Bohemia”, or “Made in Czechoslovakia”. Czechoslovakia wants to be free economically from its former rulers.

You hear that exporters and importers were not successful recently in making connections with Czechoslovakia. This should not discourage anyone. There are many unavoidable obstructions with a country like Czechoslovakia, before the proper adjustments are made. I have talked to a good many representatives here from foreign countries. Many of them are complaining that they cannot get any results. This, of course, is unfortunate, but cannot be helped under the present conditions. In time this country will prove a very profitable field.

The writer will remain in Prague until conditions are somewhat adjusted. American manufacturers or exporters who are interested may address communications to John A. Sokol, Prague, Czecho-Slovak Republic, c/o American Consulate.

Prague, June 21, 1919.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1943, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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