PORTUGAL AND China are to strengthen economic co-operation in the oil and mineral rich, former Portuguese colony of Angola. The strategic partnership was announced by Prime Minister José Sócrates and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, during a two-day official state visit to Portugal last weekend.
Following the signing of accords in the Baroque Palace of Queluz, Portugal joins four other countries which have established preferential commercial and diplomatic relations with the Chinese giant, now becoming the fastest growing economy in the world and the second largest after the US.
José Sócrates said during a press conference on Saturday that Portugal can confirm its partnership with China in Africa. “China has vast amounts of capital to invest, whereas we have the territorial knowhow, the cultural and historical ties, a common language and traditions,” he added.
He went on to say that the former Portuguese colony of Macao, which, like Hong Kong, was handed back to the Chinese in 1999, could act as a bridge link between Portugal and China in addition to the Portuguese speaking countries at large.
“Economic trade between China and Portugal in all spheres is vitally important,” he told reporters. “China and Portugal can unite for greater economic co-operation with Portuguese speaking countries and take advantage of respective interests.”
For his part, the Chinese premier said that he wanted to see Portugal and China double their trade over the next three years. In 2005, trade between China and Portugal reached a little more than one billion US dollars, an increase from 869 million dollars (742 million euros) in 2004, according to figures released from the Chinese Embassy. Bilateral agreements were also concluded in other areas such as justice, health, investment protection and cultural exchanges.
The visit comes against the backdrop of a 2003 meeting and accord in Macao, when China and seven Portuguese speaking countries signed an accord aimed at easing trade relations.