Sustainability experts tip Portugal Ireland trade boom post Brexit

 In Original

Portugal Ireland trade relations could be set to boom as a result of Brexit, according to experts in the field of sustainability, green energy and smart cities.

A large panel of industry experts gathered in Lisbon for a special ‘Sustainability Forum’ to discuss opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between the two nations.
The event was organised by the Ireland Portugal Business Network (IPBN) and staged at the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP). It featured the Irish Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD and the Irish Ambassador to Portugal Orla Tunney.
IPBN Chairman Tony Boyle said the Ireland Portugal relationship could quickly grow – particularly as Ireland ‘de-focuses’ on business with the UK as a result of Brexit.
“Ireland and Portugal share very similar traits,” he said. “From a personality perspective we get on well with each other and share a strong work ethic. Innovation is also central to both economies, and as a result of Brexit, finding other European markets is key. Ireland already benefits from a positive trade relationship with Portugal and this is only likely to grow in the coming years. With Ireland’s green identity and Lisbon’s appointment as Green Capital of Europe 2020, ‘sustainability’ became an obvious theme for our forum. We focused on areas with a common strategic vision – including in SMART Cities and Innovation in Energy. This provided an opportunity for a range of experts to share knowledge and business opportunities. By opening up this conversation we aim to create greater cooperation and collaboration between Ireland and Portugal, between our agencies, companies and those looking to export and form partnerships. The purpose of the IPBN is to stimulate growth in business. We are only really concerned with one metric – how trade grows both ways, and we will be judged upon how we move the needle.”
Speaking at the event Minister Doyle said in response to Brexit, Enterprise Ireland is diversifying its exports strategy by increasing client exports to the Eurozone by around 50pc by 2020. “Today, across the globe we are bringing the Irish advantage to customers. For a small country we are delivering a big impact to many evolving industries including waste management, IoT and connectivity for Smart Cities. When exporting and importing between Portugal and Ireland there are no tariffs or customs procedures, meanwhile Tourism Ireland has been working hard to encourage more visitors to visit Ireland.”
EDP Head of Transformation Tomás Moreno said the Portuguese energy giant has been cultivating Ireland for a number of years. “We have a very close relationship with ESB, the Irish utility provider,” he said. “We are in constant contact, we share knowledge and learning and have partnered in a programme called Free Electrons. This is a business acceleration for late-stage start-ups which we source from hundreds of the best candidates in the clean tech industry across the world. We engage over a period of six months to get a pilot together to roll out their technology or invest. EDP wanted to be involved in the Sustainability Forum for two reasons. Firstly, because both sustainability and decarbonisation are very important to us. Fortunately, doing good and doing well are very aligned in our business today. Secondly, the Irish link. Our Irish partners are very important to us and we share a very close relationship.”
Dense Air COO Graham Currier said the multi-national mobile network provider is actively looking to collaborate with Portuguese firms. With strong links in Ireland, Dense Air has recently entered the Portuguese market deploying technology to enhance connectivity and performance of handsets. “We looked at the Portuguese market, and the 4G and 5G potential and took a judgement that our particular model, which is a ‘carrier of carriers’ network, would work,” he said. “We went ahead with a purchase and are now in the process of setting up our business. There are technical differences, but we can take the experience of one country and migrate it to another. In terms of Ireland as the first of our ventures this gives a good benchmark of performance and the way we operationalise to the Portuguese market. We have the technology, but our operator requires engineering resource, marketing resource, local site resource and local contractors. Knowledge of our operation we can import, but we can take much capability from the local market.”
Lisbon City Council Senior Advisor to the Deputy Mayor of Security, Mobility and Urban Intelligence David Cunha said events including the Irish-founded Web Summit are helping attract major talent to the country. “In recent years we have been building innovative ecosystems, the most visible being the Web Summit and the creation of the 30000sq mt Beato Hub for tech firms and start-ups involved in the innovation scene. This has allowed us to attract major companies like Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW who are relocating their technical hubs because they realise Lisbon is becoming a hot spot for innovation in Europe and worldwide. More broadly, sustainability is one of our main objectives. Lisbon has been investing a lot in creating green spaces and we are aiming to achieve 200km of cycleways by 2020. We are also heavily involved in changing mobility in Lisbon switching from private to public modes of transport. As a city that is very exposed to climate risks and rising sea-levels we are very committed to climate change. We have many projects devoted to this area including the general drainage plan for Lisbon – a massive plan which will be implemented soon worth more than €180million – and the retrofitting of the city hall with energy efficient measures.”
Turismo de Portugal Director for Knowledge Management and Innovation Sergio Guerreira said there are a myriad of opportunities fort Irish companies to capitalise on Portugal’s booming tourism sector, which generates 13.7pc of GDP, and creates more than 400,000 jobs. “In 2018 we launched a strategy for the next ten years with specific economic, social, environmental goals. Its an ambitious strategy and we are working with partners to foster the adoption of sustainable solutions within our industry. Tourism is the largest export sector in the country. It’s an important industry in most of the regions. We have a beautiful country with assets we believe will attract international visitors and be a force for development. We advertise ourselves as a complete destination, and there is a very diverse range of opportunities including hotels, restaurants, tourism services and adventure tourism. Sustainability is part of our DNA and we have a wide agenda in terms of adoption of new solutions through technology and innovation within our sector.”
The forum was delivered in association with Enterprise Ireland, Dense Air Portugal and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.