Corruption aside, Portugal has “world’s best golden visa programme”

Investment || Despite the ongoing corruption investigation into Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme, a report released by Henley & Partners has named Portugal as the country with the “best residence and citizenship programme in the world”.

The news is reported by Diário Económico, which quizzed the CEO of the firm on why Portugal is ranked ahead of Austria, the USA, Switzerland, Monaco and Dubai.

“The country has a truly good ‘golden visa’ programme which has been going extremely well,” Eric Major told DE.

He added the programme had helped Portugal complete the terms of its bailout, and had not only “benefited the real estate sector” but also brought the country as a whole “more international recognition”.

But as DE points out, the scheme has been in the news since last November when a string of public officials were rounded up in an investigation into corruption. The scandal even led to the resignation of then Internal Administration Minister Miguel Macedo.

Since then, the number of visas granted has dropped “significantly” and the format of the scheme altered to embrace new forms of investment, including scientific investigation, culture and urban rehabilitation and encouraging projects for low-density areas.

In all, a total of 2,290 visas have been granted since the scheme was started at the end of 2012 – most of them going to Chinese investors.

A haven for Chinese investment

Portugal has become one of Chinese investors’ favourite places to invest. According to Portugal’s Ambassador to China, Jorge Torres-Pereira, the country is only not as popular as the UK, Germany and France.

“We are currently tied in fourth place with Italy,” the ambassador told Lusa news agency, adding that Chinese investment in Portugal has passed the €10 billion mark since China Three Gorges bought 21.3% of EDP in 2012.

“Portugal is on the radar of Chinese investors, who are currently the ones spreading the word that the country is an interesting destination.”

He added that Portugal is entering “a new cycle of growth” and that its economy is currently “one of the most competitive in Europe”.

“We were impressed with Portugal”

Lingjiang Xu, the executive director of China’s largest privately-owned conglomerate Fosun, has admitted that he was “impressed” by Portugal’s “good investment opportunities”.
Speaking after a recent investors’ conference organised by the AICEP, Portugal’s export bureau, the businessman told Jornal de Negócios that it was the country’s “financial openness” that allowed Fosun to take over insurance company Fidelidade and Espírito Santo Saúde.

Saying his experience in Portugal has been “positive”, Xu revealed that other Chinese investors have been asking him about the country and said that he believes “the worst of the financial crisis in Europe has passed”.

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