Mission “Portugal In” sets out to reel in investors fleeing Brexit

An inspired “temporary structure” has been set up to ‘capture’ investment fleeing the consequences of Brexit.

No sooner had UK prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 on Thursday than an initiative in Portugal designed to reap some of the benefits set off from the starting blocks.

“Portugal In” plans to attract UK-based businesses to this country that want to stay trading within the single market so that Britain’s looming exit from Europe will leave them less affected.

For now, details are very basic. Portugal In will be made up by an executive commission reporting directly to prime minister António Costa. Its president will be former PS tourism minister Bernardo Trindade backed by entrepreneurial high-flyer Chitra Stern and lawyer Gonçalo da Gama Lobo Xavier.

Público explains that its knowledge of Stern and Lobo Xavier’s professional paths is limited, and that it hasn’t been able to get more details from the government as “Portugal In” is presented as a solution to “contributing to the objective defined by the government’s programme to capture the most and best direct foreign investment, essential for reinforcing the competitivity of the national economy”.

But Chitra Stern’s ‘past’ in the Algarve is already well-known. The dual Singapore-British national and her husband Roman established the Martinhal chain of Family Hotels and Resorts in Sagres, before adding to their ‘empire’ with outlets in Quinta do Lago and Cascais.

Lobo Xavier meantime has an unusual string to his bow. He is the head of AIMMAP, the association of metallurgical, metalomechanic and sundries industries which, Público explains, is “one of the sectors that has most contributed to attracting industrial investment to Portugal”.

Lobo Xavier is also a member of the European Social and Economic Committee – a body that describes itself as “a bridge between Europe and organised civil society”.

News of “Portugal In” is already being touted in the UK, with the Daily Mail describing the initiative as a Task Force. Government relations minister Maria Leitão Marques has told Britain’s journalists that Portugal In’s mandate will run to the end of 2019.

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