Exports of Czech beer this year could reach 2.05m hl, according to the Czech Association of Beer and Malt Producers, the local press reported today, up from the 1.97m hl last year.

The Association's chairman Jan Vesely said the main reason for the rise in beer exports is the increased number of breweries who started exporting their production.

Vesely pointed out that the ownership of Czech breweries by foreign companies also contributed to the export rise.

Beer production in the country registered a slight year-on-year increase in the first half of 2003 to 8.98m hl.