Portugal set for new exports boom despite Brexit
Portugal is expected to enjoy a new record in investment for export-focused projects this year.
According to Portugal’s overseas trade and exports agency AICEP Portugal Global the country will thrive despite Brexit – the UK is Portugal’s fourth most important export market — and global trade tensions between the US and China and the US and the EU, AICEP is already studying plans worth more than €1Bn (US$1Bn).
The proposals submitted so far this year, the bulk of it foreign investment, almost equals the record €1.17Bn of projects contracted in the whole of 2019, according to AICEP.
“The live pipeline is very strong, which is excellent news … and AICEP will continue to raise more projects,” Luis Castro Henriques, the head of the agency, told the Reuters news agency.
“Even after a second consecutive year of record highs, more than €1Bn of investments have been applied for in January. They are being analysed to be contracted in 2020, despite the various world uncertainties, which affect the decisions of companies.”
Export-focused projects involve those that provide goods or services to be exported from Portugal to other countries, rather than for domestic consumption, for example auto equipment or aircraft parts destined for German carmakers or European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
This year’s proposals include 13 new industrial projects, from car and car component production to chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, which have drawn an estimated global investment of €737 million. They also include 10 research and development (R&D) projects with a total investment of €276 million .
Castro Henriques said the accelerating investment testified to Portugal’s competitiveness gains over the past few years.
Exports and booming tourism supported Portugal’s economic and fiscal recovery after a 2011-14 debt crisis and bailout and, despite a slowdown last year, the country still outperforms the euro zone as a whole in terms of growth.
This year, the government expects to post the country’s first fiscal surplus in 45 years, of 0.2% of gross domestic product, while projecting growth at 1.9%, the same as in 2019.
Castro Henriques said foreign investment in Portugal was becoming more diversified, and coming from countries such as the United States, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, in addition to more traditional sources such as Germany, France and Spain. More foreign money was also flowing into R&D, he added.