Portuguese economy in best state since 1990s
Portugal is in the best economic state since the 1990s says its current Minister of Finances, Mário Centeno.
The Portuguese economy has grown for 22 consecutive quarters and over the last two years has enjoyed one of the longest and greatest periods of growth since the country became a democracy in 1974.
It is a period of growth not seen since the 1990s and which has taken place within a framework of balanced external accounts.
This performance has enabled the Government to return to a path of convergence with the European Union, a convergence which it was far from achieving 15 years ago.
In 2020, the Portuguese economy above the Eurozone average for the fifth consecutive year and with the exception of Ireland, Portugal was the economy which most grew between 2016 and 2018 from among the 15 pre-enlargement EU Member-States.
The Portuguese economy today is less reliant public and private consumption (its accumulated value has been reduced by 3 percentage points of GDP between 2014 and 2018).
On the other hand, export performance has been positive (+2.9 percentage points of GDP between 2015 and 2018) while investment is also up (+2.1 percentage points of GDP for the same period).
The recovery in economic growth means a growth in family disposable income (+11.3% between 2015 and 2018). Equally, the Portuguese labour market has been performing well (+371,000 jobs from the first three quarters of 2015 to the same period of 2019) and a very significant drop in unemployment (jobless down 316,000 for the same period of 2019, corresponding to halving the number of unemployed from 12.5% in 2015 to 6.4% in 2019 – a minimum not seen since 2003.
The stabilisation of the financial sector, the recovery in investment, the rebalancing of external accounts and progress achieved in the structural consolidation of public accounts are key factors that explain these positive developments.
In the public finances domain. Portugal has continued to recover its international credibility over the past five years. The Portuguese Republic finances itself on the international money lending markets at just 0.4% interest — a historic record without parallel.
The main financial ratings agencies have evaluated Portugal’s public debt as investment grade while over the past four years the ratio of public debt to GDP fell 131.2% in 2015 to 118.9% in 2019, in a reduction of 12.3 percentage points with a forecast reduction of 116% in 2020.
In 2020 the Government predicts a real growth in GDP of close to 2.0% (1.93%) based on a modest recovery in the economy of the Eurozone and in line with forecasts from international institutions such as the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.
The moderate recovery in growth in the Eurozone, Portugal’s main economic partner, should be reflected in a modest uptick in overseas demand and, as a consequence, in a growth in Portuguese exports.
The increase in public investment (from 9.8% in 2019 to 18.1% in 2020) should also provide a positive boost to economic growth. According to the latest forecasts from the European Commission, in 2020 it is estimated that Portugal will have the highest public investment of all the Eurozone countries.
In 2020, Portugal should achieve a moderately positive budgetary balance (0.2% of GDP), without parallel in Portuguese democracy.