In state hands during the Communist era, much of the Czech Republic's agricultural and industrial sectors was relatively quickly privatized and showed appreciable growth in the early 1990s. Foreign investment was widely sought. An economic slowdown beginning in 1997, however, revealed problems in the transition from government control to a privatized economy, as many large industrial conglomerates with thousands of employees lost money and sought government aid instead of revamping. In 1999–2000 most of the state-owned banks were privatized, with the government assuming responsibility for bad loans; privatization of the telecommunications industry took place in 2005.
The chief crops are wheat and other grains, potatoes, sugar beets, hops, and fruit. Among the country's livestock are hogs, cattle, sheep, and poultry. Manufacturing is the chief economic activity, especially the production of automobiles, machine tools, machinery, glass, and armaments. Iron and steel industries are important in Moravia. Other industries include metalworking, chemicals, and electronics. The republic's rather scant natural resources include hard and soft coal, timber, and uranium. Machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, raw materials, and fuels are exported, and similar products also constitute the most significant imports. The largest trading partners are Germany, Slovakia, Poland, France, and Italy.