General Director, French Portuguese Chamber of Commerce
Our membership has been changing since Portugal started emerging from years of crisis. Portugal has been a key focus for three or four years now, and the chamber of commerce is one of the doorways to the country. We organize many events such as seminars across multiple economic sectors with the objective of making contacts between French and Portuguese companies. Our dynamism is our best image and promotion tool to boost membership. We organize events to assess successes in particular areas of business such as exports to France and Portugal, environment, innovation, as well as a company nominated by the jury. This gives companies who want to highlight some of their projects a chance to receive acclaim in the press for their achievements. We also work with European chambers of commerce in Portugal to organize events to enable networking. In-depth market research and analysis on macroeconomic trends also helps businesses. Here, we are fortunate that there is extensive collaboration between different entities, which is not the case in every country. Business France has the most information for market studies to help expand French exports into Portugal. However, we take the lead when the company is already in the market and provide it with information to set up a company here and help them invest.
CEO, British Portuguese Chamber of Commerce
Many uncertainties remain regarding Brexit, and it will stay high on the topical agenda for several years to come. Many companies are worried about the negative impact it will have their business, whilst others are rejoicing about the new opportunities that are emerging. We intend to monitor developments as they occur and offer seminars to help prepare our members. For some, there was the perception that chambers of commerce were rather traditional institutions, and that image still sticks. We, therefore, made a conscious effort to be more appealing to a new generation of companies that are dominating the business scene. We created more activities targeting start-ups and entrepreneurs. In 2017, we were pleased to welcome Google as a member, which illustrates our appeal to such companies. Companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook are dominating our landscape; for them to join us and use the chamber to project their brand is a great indication for us. In the early days, the chamber was much more into manufacturing, wine, and textiles, though more recently it has moved more toward services and tourism, where it is strong in the Algarve region. The activities in the north are more geared toward manufacturing, whereas the central region has a higher concentration of services and tech.
Executive Director, Hans-Joachim Böhmer
This German chamber is part of the network of German chambers in over 90 countries and was established in 1954 as a bilateral chamber working with both German companies coming to Portugal and with Portuguese companies going to Germany for investment, exports, or imports. It is always about finding opportunities for both sides. There are altogether 400 German companies in the country, of which most are industrial. We bring in German companies and provide services for them and also help Portuguese businesses enter the German market. We do professional education, which is one of our important areas, because companies need qualified people. We have offices and training centers in Lisbon and Porto as well as a training center down south. All these activities are focused on what is needed. Economic relations are increasing, which means our activity will grow as well. We are here to help German-Portuguese economic activities grow in different areas. As a chamber of commerce, we are a lobbying organization, though especially oriented toward services for our members. We help German companies here find partners to get information on the relevant laws and regulations. We have many German companies exporting industrial products to Portugal and entering into production processes here. Our goal is to help lower the threshold of doing business here.
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