The Business Year

Formidable relationships with key countries across all continents and a business environment that thrives on disruptive technologies are just two reasons why Portugal is set to reach new highs.

António Costa

Prime Minister, Portugal

There are two different views of the world. One, short-term, is unilateral or monoliteral, protectionist, with domestic populist discourse, minimizing multilateralism in anything to do with sustainable development, prone to climate change denial, opposed to global pacts on migration and refugees, and only interested in conflict prevention and peacekeeping where and when, occasionally, it matters. The other, opposing, view, which we share, is multilateral, open, and favorable to the search for global governance, committed to sustainable development regarding international law, the charter, and human rights as values and principles, and never as means or conveniences. We are confident that, in the medium to long term, this view will prevail, as it has prevailed in the EU, which has given Europe the longest period of peace in living memory and the highest levels of welfare and social protection. Our view of the world situation and of the role of the UN explains our positions on so-called regional questions that are global in scope. Portugal believes multilateral action, political dialogue, and diplomatic wisdom are the only possible route to harmonious coexistence between nations and peoples.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

President, Portugal

It has become somewhat of a cliché, but a necessary one, to recall the Treaty of Windsor of 1386, which makes the Portugal-UK relationship the longest-standing diplomatic alliance in existence between two countries in the world. The ties between our countries are deeply rooted in culture and anchored in the vivid and growing communities of Portuguese in the UK and British expats in Portugal. The important thing now is to minimize the negative consequences of Brexit and develop a relationship as close as possible with the UK. British businesses will continue to cross the Channel in search of custom and profit, as will our own. The UK is our largest source of tourists, our fourth-largest export market, and our fourth-largest source of FDI. That preference continues to this day. British investment in Portugal grew at a faster pace than EU investment in Portugal did over the past two years. And over the last year, it multiplied by five. These are the dividends of a special relationship nurtured over centuries, and they pay both ways.

Manuel Caldeira Cabral

Former Minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral

The government has used anti-austerity measures to unleash society’s existing growth potential. The first major impact of this was to boost citizen and consumer confidence, and this was also reflected in the confidence of investors. Paired together, these trends generated an atmosphere of certainty and led to not just a continuation but an acceleration of growth, far above the EU average. Our investment grew by 13% in 2017, the biggest increase in 18 years, mostly in private investment, both Portuguese and FDI. The signals we gave off were, first, that we are an open economy for trade, investment, and visitors. Second, we instilled stability into the public accounts. With more growth, we have more revenues and less people in unemployment, which reduces the costs of unemployment benefit and social security. We also sent a clear message about fiscal stability in our three already approved budgets; we have no need to drum up revenue by hiking taxes. We managed through better management and harnessing of the opportunities created by economic growth to reduce the debt burden, while maintaining fiscal stability.

António Sá da Costa

President, Association of Renewable Energy (APREN)

When we established this association 30 years ago, our objective was shaped by the fact that all electrical business production, transport, and distribution was owned by the state through EDP since 1976. The sector was subsequently opened to private investment. The role of the association remains essential to unify the different investors in the system for the production of electricity. We want Portugal to have a higher share of renewable electricity in order to support the reduction of CO2 emissions and fight climate change. The companies that are members of APREN represent 93% of all renewable power installed in Portugal and on average produce a little more than half of the electricity consumed throughout the country. We work to find solutions for our sector; we address either technical or fiscal problems, those concerning the environment, as well as ways to interact with the remuneration of the sector for electricity production. We started from a system that basically involved feed-in tariffs and transitioned gradually to one determined by the market.

João Pedro Matos Fernandes

Minister of Environment and Energy Transition, Portugal

Portugal has a trifecta of highly valued assets, such as the sea, sun, and wind, and I would risk a fourth: skill. When we think of the green energy sector, we tend to focus on the big projects: windmill, solar, and water. It is a fact that we have an extremely high-value industry both in hardware and software. It is not by chance that we attract companies such as Siemens, which may come to benefit of experienced Portuguese companies like A. Silva Matos and others; however, the green energy sector is also made of smaller projects. Take bio-economy, for example, in which we have an enormous potential for development, not only on the “blue“ side—seas and rivers—but also on the “green“ side—forests and agriculture—combining the cascading of value extraction from natural biomass with energy production. And in that context, we certainly have a solid and growing pool of companies and competences, from north to south of the country such as CIIMAR in Leixíµes, BLC3 in Oliveira do Hospital, Católica School in Porto, and companies like SilicoLife and A4F.

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