PORTUGAL - Economy
President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP)
Bruno Bobone has been President of CCIP since 2005 and chairman of the board of Grupo Pinto Basto, a family-owned company leader in the maritime services sector. In addition to his vast experience in the private sector, he has developed significant expertise at the head of civil society associations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean Forum, and the World Association of Christian Entrepreneurs and Managers. He is also, since 2018, president of the council of the faculty of law of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and assumed vice-presidency of the EC-CPLP in 2021.
CCIP works to defend and promote the role of civil society and the private sector as engines of the economy and the creation of jobs.
How did the outbreak of the pandemic impact the local economy in general, and specifically, what was its impact on CCIP?
COVID-19 gave us a good and bad results. The good news has been the digitalization process; we never would have grown so fast on that side without the obligation to do so. During these hard times, we worked to support everyone, opening lines directly for members and non-members to get in touch with us for support to overcome difficulties. CCIP is fully supported by private interests; we do not receive a cent from the government. This means that we have the capacity to really help if someone comes to us for support. The pandemic impacted the activity of CCIP as well, and we are trying to get back to the way we used to work. We have developed digital capacities, but, at the same time, have lost many relationships. The digitalization we have pursued is ideal in building the capacity required for us to be flexible, but not as a substitute for the way we used to work. This is what I expect: a return to the way we used to work. Being human, we must continue to cultivate relationships in person. Ultimately, we need human, not digital, relations.
How would you evaluate the Portuguese business community’s capacity for internationalization?
Portugal has an extraordinary capacity for building relations and creating bonds. If you go anywhere in the world, you will likely find a Portuguese person solving issues because it is our very way of living. We also have one strong characteristic; we always worry about the other person’s feelings. This is something that gives us knowledge and an understanding of what you need. Therefore, it is extremely easy for us to supply your needs. This is what makes the Portuguese so successful in commercial activity and problem solving. We were rather closed for some years in Portugal, but now we are rebuilding this capacity. We have been growing our internationalization over the past decade, and we have a huge capacity to do so. Moreover, Portugal does not have a big market, so we really need to look abroad. We have to transform Portugal into a platform that can bring people together. This way we can return to the global stage and also send our people to build bridges between people, companies, and countries.
How are you expanding the member list of CCIP, and which sector do you wish to see grow in terms of representation within the chamber?
We are both open and global. And while we are here to serve small and medium-sized companies, we need the larger ones to give us the capacity to serve the others. We therefore try to mix our members not based on sector, but on respective strengths. We do not care whether we have more industrial, commercial, or agricultural companies on board. It is unlikely for us to have tourist companies, because there is a confederation of tourism in operation. They do not really need much support, but we have a number of firms who are members for networking purposes.
What are your main objectives for the chamber?
The first is to secure sufficient capacity of influence; I would like the government to ensure that the money that we will reinvest in our country in recovery from the pandemic is genuinely used for development. The second objective is to work toward larger firms here achieving similar productivity levels as any other country in Europe. We also want to develop an educational initiative concerning the leadership of small and medium companies. We have already started a post-graduate course with NOVA University, with classes designed for managers and owners of small and medium sized companies. I truly believe that by doing this, we can foster productivity and support the national economy as a whole.
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