Portuguese exports to UK down 15%
The combined effects of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have hammered Anglo-Portuguese trade relations with Portuguese exports down 15% and imports down a staggering 56%.
And for the first time, reports the Portugal Resident news source, Portugal’s economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira has spoken about the economic damage it has cased Portugal.
In an Intervew with the Times, and with this year marking the 650th anniversary of the Treaty of Tagilde which formed the first important diplomatic bond between the two countries in the 14th century, Pedro Siza Vieira said: “Some exports have been very adversely affected”.“Brexit has had an adverse impact, of course”.”For Portugal Brexit wads not good news”.
“The UK is one of Portugal’s main trading partners, one of the main investment partners. We are an Atlantic country, not a continental country. It is a basic part of our identity and foreign policy to have a close relationship with the UK and US. So this (Brexit) is complicated for us. This is not something we are happy with”.
According to the Times “diplomatic efforts are underway to rebuild the relationship and strike new trade deals, reinvading the spirit of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the oldest diplomatic alliance still in force”, but they could be mired in Post-Brexit red tape, and the fact that Portugal is now first and foremost a Member State of Europe, even though Britain is historically is its oldest ally.
Pedro Siza Vieira told the Times that Brexit had been particularly prejudicial at the level of car components and textiles.
According to the Association of Manufacturers for the Automobile Industry (AIFA), between January and November 2021, exports to the UK fell 49.9% like-for-like on 2019.
The Times also cites statistics for 2021 that show that while exports from Portugal to the EU increased 1.3%, to the EU they plummeted 15%.
In terms of goods imported from the UK to Portugal, these skydived an astonishing 56% like-for-like on 2019 compared to 10.3% from the other 26 member states.
“The UK is one of our main commercial partners and investment partners”, said Siza Vieira ahead of commemorations for the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance on 10 July this year.
British ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty, side-lined the issue, preferring instead to focus on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Portugal Day in the UK, telling Essential Business: “The UK/Portugal bilateral relationship has strong foundations, dating back many centuries. But ours is not just an Ancient Alliance. We remain committed partners and want to see our partnership grow further. This relationship has many facets, whether in business, as NATO Allies, or through the strong people to people links that unite us. Our plans to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Portugal and the recently announced Portugal Day celebrations in the United Kingdom will highlight these connections in the coming months”.
Chris Barton, CEO of the BPCC (British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce) was even briefer, although more candid, summing up the interview by saying: “The article does not attempt to gloss over what many of us believe to be the truth”.
The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK did not provide a reaction based on the experiences of their importing-exporting members by our deadline, merely restricting themselves to admitting the Times article was “rather bleak”.
The interview was published by the Times shortly before the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said Brexit red tape has damaged Britain’s trade with the EU and the situation could worsen unless the Government works with Brussels to reduce up to 29 mile-long holdups for hauliers at UK ports which had increased costs and suppressed trade with the EU.
The committee’s chair Meg Hillier said: “One of the great promises of Brexit was freeing British businesses to give them the headroom to maximise their productivity and contribution to the economy — even more desperately needed now on the long road to recovery from the pandemic. Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays”.
The legal foundations of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance are found in three treaties dating from the fourteenth century: the Treaty of Tagilde (10 July 1372), the Treaty of London (16 July 1376), and the Treaty of Windsor (9 May 1386).
The Treaty of Tagilde, signed at the Church of São Salvador of Tagilde (Vizela municipality, Braga district), by D. Ferdinand I of Portugal and the representatives of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and son of Edward III of England, is considered the preamble of the alliance that remains in force to this day. During more than six centuries of existence, the Anglo-Portuguese alliance has survived the most challenging of historical contingencies, including two world wars, the rise and fall of empires, revolution and decolonisation, the multi-lateralisation of international relations, European integration and the end of the Cold War. It will undoubtedly survive Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.