Costa tells China “Portugal is the gateway to Europe”

It may not be the message being conveyed by “hundreds of Chinese” who have invested in Portugal under the country’s Golden Visa programme, but prime minister António Costa is in Shanghai today exhorting the Chinese to increase their investment here.

“Portugal is the gateway to Europe”, is his message, backed by glowing testimonies supplied by Chinese groups like Fosun and Haitong.

Speaking at various functions during his four-day official visit to the country, Costa is attempting to drum up business across the spectrum – aiming at large corporations as much as smaller enterprises.

“Portugal has a long tradition of being open to the world”, he told an early morning investment forum, stressing that the country’s position in Europe means that “investing in Portugal” is the same as investing in any country of the European Union.

High on Costa’s list of priorities is attracting investment to ports and industry.

Indeed, taking advantage of the visit, an agreement over the development of Sines with China’s second largest investment bank Haitong – headed up by a former Banco Espírito Santo director, José Maria Ricciardi – was signed in Peking on Sunday.

It is a deal that promises to “transform the region of Sines and Portugal, from a strategic point of view”, Ricciardi affirmed.

The plan involves investment in Sines’ logistical areas, and covers over 1000 hectares of land.

But Costa’s main focus of the trip is to woo investment by Huawei, the telecommunications multinational based 25 kms from Hong Kong.

According to reports, a number of agreements are expected to be announced between Portuguese universities and Huawei, as well as the opening of a technological centre in Portugal, which could have a “relevant impact” on employment in this country.

Needless to say, Costa’s visit has caused a certain degree of controversy in that it is taking place in tense days leading up to the finalising of Portugal’s 2017 budget.

Critics argue that he should be here – but media sources explain this is more to do with catching a ‘free moment’ in the diary of Chinese head of state Xi Jinping.

If Costa had not taken the plunge and flown to Peking on Saturday, there would not have been another occasion to do so before the second half of 2017, explains TSF radio – adding that Xi Jinping himself accepts “less than half a dozen of these kind of visits each year”.

[email protected]