The Czech Republic is the leading emerging market of the former 'Eastern Block'. It has a stable economy and a highly skilled labour pool. Since joining the European Union in 2004 the economy has strengthened and the population has embraced global consumer culture. Salaries are on the rise as is the standard of living.
The IT sector in particular is very strong. Many Czechs are computer literate and the nation is adapting happily to digital technology. As of Christmas 2003 94% of the population owned a mobile phone. Prague leads the way as the nation rushes to catch up with the lifestyle of Western European nations. Trends in clothing, cars, food and media have been influenced by the west for so long, but now there is access to the actual products. Brand / designer names are very popular and it is desirable to possess anything that conveys success and worldliness.
The cost of production remains low and the average salary for skilled professionals is lower than those of Poland or Hungary. These favourable conditions allow many companies to set up their manufacturing base in the Czech Republic. New factories are being built and companies are moving their headquarters to Prague because the labour pool is both skilled and affordable. Rents for office space and corporate apartments are still relatively low.
Food production is promising too. The agriculturural sector is looking for new investors as the economy shifts from state-subsidized to supply-and-demand. In fact, companies in many industries have access to a steady supply of basic resources such as chemicals, textiles, metal, wood and glass.
All this has created a sub-culture of expatriates, in particular, professionals who have relocated to the Czech Republic for business reasons. Since many of these people are earning the equivalent of western salaries, their affluence is fueling the local economy even more and creating an international, business-oriented environment.