By Chris Graeme
PORTUGUESE COMPANIES and direct investment are welcome in the United Kingdom and the City of London, the Mayor of London, the Right Honourable Alderman David Brewer, told a group of business people in Lisbon on Friday.
Addressing a lunch organised by the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce with insurance giant Marsh at the Lapa Hotel, he said Portugal is viewed as a key business partner in the UK.
The Lord Mayor was in Lisbon on a two-day visit to promote bilateral business ties between the two countries, promote the financial service brand of the City of London and examine co-operation, share expertise and ideas on Public Private Partnership projects, such as the new airport project at Ota and the TGV high speed rail link between Madrid, Lisbon and Porto.
Portugal is a strong export market for the UK with sales of goods and services worth 2.3 billion pounds sterling in 2005. Britain is also one of the largest investors in Portugal with investments amounting to 2.6 billion pounds sterling in 2005.
British financial service players all have a significant presence in Lisbon in the insurance and law fields from Simmons & Simmons Rebelo de Sousa, Barclays Bank and Marsh.
In the field of financial services, the UK is home to some of the leading financial service providers and, with over 400 years of experience as a leading trade and financial service centre, there is a great deal of expertise in London that Portugal could benefit from.
“The City of London is an internationally recognised brand name and, as I travel around the world, I do sell it as a European asset, explaining that we are a window to Europe with regional hubs. A regional hub, as we have in Lisbon, sits very comfortably alongside the City of London,” Brewer said.
He added that the City of London also provides an opportunity to fly the flag for Europe whether in China, India or the Far East.
“It is very good news that there are over 100 Portuguese companies in the UK, and the British Embassy in Lisbon is establishing an inward investment team to attract more Portuguese foreign direct investment to the UK.
“We, in the UK, want to contribute to being a key business partner with Portugal, to share our experiences, learn from each others mistakes, build on our successes and increase the links between our two countries,” he concluded.