Finance Minister talks in US about possible “Grexit” and how Portugal is “fully back in the market”

In an interesting interview with business news channel CNBC yesterday, Portugal’s Finance Minister Maria Luís Albuquerque was quizzed on all kinds of issues, including the looming possibility of a Greek exit from the EU. Throughout she remained both positive and diplomatic, stressing that “the worst seems to be behind” Portugal as it returns in full to the market, but that the fate of Greece is very much a question for the Greeks.

“I don’t think there is any real preparation one can do for such an event,” Albuquerque referred to a “Grexit” which CNBC’s Julia Chatterley described as “as close as we’ve ever seen it”.

“There are consequences that could be unpredictable – and if you ask me if I worry, of course I worry, and I think we would all strongly prefer Greece to continue to be a Eurozone member.”

Albuquerque, in Washington, attending the IMF Spring Meetings, was no doubt aware of the recent Moody report which warned Portugal faced being “strongly penalised” in the event of a Greek exit.

Portugal’s “vulnerability” lies in its high external debt, the ratings agency stressed, but Albuquerque insisted that “things seem to be improving. So, still challenging, but it looks like the worst seems to be behind us, which is good”, she told Chatterley.

She also agreed that the fall in the value of the euro had had “a few positive effects”, particularly when it came to Portugal’s exports.

But she refuted completely the idea that the government might be throttling back on reforms, in the run-up to a general election later this year.

“We know that criticism is being made,” she said. “But we think it’s simply not valid.”

“There are many reforms still that need to be done,” she added, “but we continue to do reforms and we continue to announce reforms going forward”.

For a clip of the interview in English, see:

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