Economy “growing faster and better than expected”, says finance minister

In an upbeat interview with Bloomberg, economy minister João Leão has said that Portugal’s economy – along with that of the EU – is recovering fast, better than expected”, despite the outlook still being “very uncertain”.

Doing particularly well in this 3rd quarter of 2020 is construction and manufacturing, he said – adding that although tourism showed some recovery since July, it has been “badly affected” – not least by the removal last Thursday of the long-awaited air corridor with UK.

GDP has fallen by 16% in relation to the same time last year, but Leão referred to the fact that the government “is implementing very strong measures to protect agriculture, employment, the incomes of families” which, he believes, will “help us recover the economy” in line with the rest of Europe.

Quizzed about the value of the euro against the dollar, Leão agreed it would not be increasing to any significant level, as to do so would damage exports.

Talking a few days earlier, prime minister António Costa said the cornerstone of Portugal’s ‘reindustrialisation’ will be the textile, shoe-manufacturing and food sectors – all of which are fundamental for economic recovery.

Bloomberg stressed that pre-pandemic, Portugal had been enjoying “six years of growth that had helped the minority government cut the jobless rate and narrow the budget deficit”. But the country still has the highest debt-ratio in the euro area, behind Greece and Italy.

“No one knows what is going to happen” regarding the development of the pandemic, admitted Costa, but what is certain is that the country as a whole has to ‘keep going’ and learn to ‘live with the virus’.