Minister for foreign affairs João Gomes Cravinho
Minister for foreign affairs João Gomes Cravinho has long contended that internationalisation of the Portuguese economy is an essential part of the government's strategy for the future. Image: Lusa

Government seeks to diversify foreign trade, investment agency network

Intention is to ‘lower risk’ of current concentration on Europe

Portugal’s secretary of state for internationalisation, Bernardo Ivo Cruz, said today that the government intends to “diversify the external network” of Portugal’s agency for investment and foreign trade (AICEP), to allow companies to expand.

“Our external network is quite concentrated in the European space. We want to diversify the external network to allow companies to diversify their markets themselves. The more foreign markets we are in, the lower the risk” in the event of problems in the European economy, Cruz told journalists.

He referred to a review of the network, in an initiative that could strengthen the country’s presence in markets such as Canada and South Korea, which despite being outside the European Union, have partnerships with the EU.

“We are not ruling out, at this time, closing or opening (delegations), we have to see where the companies want and need to go, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, where, not being on the companies’ radar, it seems useful and important for us to be so that the companies have support in their internationalisation models”.

We are studying where we need to be and we are also studying where we are and we don’t need to be“, he said.

In his speech, the secretary of State mentioned the need to “rethink AICEP’s external network according to objective and efficiency criteria” as one of the nine objectives for the new administration headed by Filipe Santos Costa.

Filipe Santos Costa, who took office this month as president of AICEP, told journalists that the agency sees greater potential to “raise productive investment for Portugal” in markets such as the more traditional partners in North America and Western Europe, and in “increasingly relevant markets” in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

“Our priority is to attract more industrial investment, intensive in technology and capital, generator of tradable goods with high added value and appreciative of the qualifications and wages of the Portuguese, and the countries with the greatest potential for this are some of the most obvious: United States, Germany, Japan, to give some examples,” he said.

At the opening of the ceremony, foreign affairs minister, João Gomes Cravinho, said that internationalisation is “essential for the creation of wealth, which in turn is essential for the fair and balanced development of society as a whole“.

Minister of the economy, António Costa Silva, highlighted the “intensification of the technological revolution, the digital revolution, the energy revolution, the complete transformation” of production and supply chains within Portuguese industry, as well as the greater demand for Portugal by foreign companies for competence, engineering and software centres.

“International companies used to look to Portugal to set up call centres. Today they are looking to the country to set up competence centres, engineering centres, software centres,” he said.