The American Chamber of Commerce in Portugal turns 70

 In Associations, In Focus, News

The American Chamber of Commerce in Portugal (AmCham) turns 70 this year, at a time when Portuguese exports to the US have hit a record high and Portugal heads the Presidency of the EU Council. The President of AmCham, António Martins da Costa, reflects on its important role in bilateral trading relations today.

Text: António Martins da Costa

This year AmCham turns 70, a date to remember and celebrate, as it has played an important role in the good relations between Portugal and the USA over the years.
It was on 3 July 1951 that, in the presence of the US Ambassador at the time, a group of leaders of US companies based in Portugal met and founded this association to strengthen bilateral relations and support American investment in Portugal.
A few years later, our mission evolved to also promote and support Portuguese companies and entrepreneurs looking for business opportunities in the American market. We then became a two-way highway.
Seven decades after our creation, our relevance has increased, due to the reinforcement of the historical and cultural links and a mutual understanding between Portugal and the US, but also due to the strengthening of economic, commercial and investment relations between the two countries.
The results of this approach are evident and down essentially to the action of companies and entrepreneurs — many of them our associates — who we wish to congratulate on this occasion. Some facts and figures speak for themselves:
– The US is the world’s 5th largest destination of Portuguese exports and the 2nd outside EU (close to €3Bn in 2019).

– American investment in Portugal represents 11% of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is consistently above €1 billion annually, in recent years
– Investments in startups in Portugal are largely financed by US investors (59% in 2019)

AmCham provides information, helps define strategies to approach the US market, builds bridges, and supports and presents testimonials from companies that have embarked on this journey, motivating others to do the same. And we do this alongside our partners, namely the US Embassy, the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) and Portugal Global – Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP).
This is not an easy path, as the American market is demanding and highly competitive. The internationalisation of a business is a complex process depending on the activity of each company or entrepreneur. But a platform like AmCham can offer its members the value of cooperation networks, where experiences can be shared and leveraged.
I would also like to highlight some of the activities that we are proud to have developed in recent years, having received very positive feedback from those who had the opportunity to participate:

The AmCham Tributes, awarding companies and personalities that are relevant to the Portugal-USA business relationships
– This is America, a family-friendly event divulging the American Way of Life
– Business missions to the USA, offering participants an opportunity to get in contact with potential partners
– Barometer of the American companies in Portugal, a detailed picture of US investments and trade in Portugal
– Access Africa Forum Program, highlighting the advantages of a partnership between American and Portuguese companies to access the Portuguese-speaking African market

Also worth mentioning are our training programs — designed together with our partners — that place AmCham as a platform for knowledge sharing, as well as the excellent networking opportunities that our events create, connecting people, organisations and political agents to enhance business development. The Chamber’s role in representing and defending the interests of its partners is greatly appreciated by our members.
The same can be said about the promotion of those values that are the core of the American economy and that we believe in: Open-market economies with attractive frameworks for investment, where innovation and entrepreneurship are key success factors of competitiveness, in a world under accelerated transformations on digital and ESG themes (environment, social responsibility and governance). For these reasons, AmCham reorganised its structure, by creating activity groups focused on topics that have more impact on businesses today: Digital & IT, Sustainability, R&D and Education, Health and Tourism.
Those values have never been so relevant and profound as they are today, amid a global health, economic and social crisis, and will be decisive to overcome it, in a spirit of global collaboration — with special relevance for the transatlantic relationships between Europe and the USA. It is our ambition to be part of this process.

The celebration of these 70 years is based on three core events:

– A series of five webinars relating the transatlantic relationship with the Portuguese Presidency of the EU, organised together with AmCham Europe
– The Transatlantic Business Summit, a high-level event focused on geo-strategic discussions and their impact on businesses
– The event, with a gala dinner, of the AmCham Tributes

Our partners are at the heart of what we do at AmCham. We are grateful and honoured for the trust they place in us. We count on them to celebrate AmCham’s 70th anniversary in 2021.