Czechia’s National Day Celebration
by H.E. Dr. Pavel Řezáč, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in South Africa
28 October 2020
Dear Readers, Compatriots, and Friends of the Czech Republic
Another year has passed marking already 102 years of Czech independence. Although this 28 October cannot be celebrated as it always deserves to be, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support and ongoing cooperation which allows the relationship between our countries to grow from strength to strength.
Founding of Czechoslovakia, 28 October 1918, is indeed a very special day in our history as it represents the beginning of the new era of self-determination and freedom, which despite being tested by WWII and Communist domination, remain the core values of our democracy. Notwithstanding freedom may have many difficulties and democracy may not be perfect, the long walk to freedom which both our countries had to embark on, makes us appreciate and enjoy what our great statesmen such as Václav Havel and Nelson Mandela fought so hard for.
Given the global economy, every country, every household, and individual have been put through unimaginable challenges since the beginning of this year, please allow me to rather focus on positive aspects of the relationship between Czechia and South Africa.
The political relations between our countries have been traditionally more than friendly which can be seen through the close support of Czechia in South Africa’s fight for freedom and democracy as well as through a great number of mutual political and business delegations on a periodical basis, maintaining the strong and fruitful dialogue.
“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
― Václav Havel
In spite of the fact that Czechia naturally has its main export partners within the EU, South Africa ranked no. 35 on the Czech export list scoring higher than for instance Australia or Canada. Due to the abundant history of Czechia in the field of engineering, amongst the most popular export articles, we can traditionally find machinery, vehicles, and automotive-related products but also electronics and ICT, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, sports equipment, and toys.
At the same time, it is of our great pleasure to see that Czechia is South Africa's no. 8 when it comes to EU trade partners which clearly proves the significance of our mutual relations. Typically, South Africa exports to Czechia accelerators, catalysts, and other related products used in the chemical industry, wool, automotive parts, and commercial and personal vehicles.
We dare to say that Czechia is a strategic partner for South Africa for various reasons including but not limited to its central European location, one of the lowest unemployment rates within the EU, safe investment environment, very skilled labor, rich industrial heritage, transparent system of investment incentives, and many more. Current investment opportunities are identified within the manufacturing sector, business support services and technology centers, financial services, and R&D.
On the other hand, and without a doubt, South Africa is the key partner for Czechia not only in the Southern African region. South African business-oriented environment, entrepreneurial mindset, strong banking sector represented by the South African Reserve Bank, its membership in SADC, SACU, and prepared AfCFTA, encourage more and more Czech businesses to venture into South Africa, establishing long-lasting relationships with their local counterparts. A prime example of which is the success story of the Czechia based company PFNonwovens that invested approximately R 1.4 billion into their manufacturing plant in Atlantis SEZ near the city of Cape Town. The production commenced in June 2019 and so created a number of work opportunities in the area.
Last but not least, there has been established the Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation between the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade and the South African Department of Trade and Industry in order to periodically review and deepen the continually successful economic cooperation.
All in all, the Embassy of the Czech Republic is proud to be one of the contributors to the Czechia – South Africa steadily growing interaction for which we are utterly excited and ready to further assist and promote the mutual relations whenever and wherever we can.
I do deeply regret that this year I cannot invite all of you to experience the warm Czech hospitality on the very special occasion of our National Day Celebration, but I do already look forward to hosting you at my residence as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.