Portugal looks across Atlantic

Portugal represents a “sea of opportunities” for investment in the sectors of renewable energy, mobile telecommunications and construction, the Portuguese Prime Minister told potential investors from emerging market economies on the other side of the Atlantic.

Passos Coelho was speaking during the fourth Community of Latin American and Caribbean States – European Union Business Summit (CELAC-UE Business Summit) held in Santiago, Chile, last weekend.

He is confident the Latin American and Caribbean markets will find Portugal attractive for business opportunities in a variety of industries, and that the country could serve as a “bridge between continents and regions”.

The central theme for the CELAC-UE Business Summit, which takes place every two years, was ‘Investment for economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability’, and included discussions on the issues of sustainable energy, boosting small and medium sized enterprises and the development of human capital.

During his speech, the Portuguese Prime Minister highlighted renewable energies, mobile telecommunications and construction as some of the sectors that could present interesting entrepreneurial prospects for CELAC investors.

Passos Coelho said: “Portugal is one of the few countries that simultaneously maintains political, commercial, economic, cultural and linguistic links with all emerging regions and economies in the world.”

The Prime Minister, who attended the summit with Minister of Foreign Affairs Paulo Portas, added that Portugal is an ideal “connecting bridge” between Europe and those two regions in America, and between them and the African and Asian continents, highlighting the strategical Portuguese-speaking countries. “Portugal is a real market of markets due to its privileged position between continents, regions and diverse countries,” said Passos Coelho, who recognised that emerging economies such as those in Latin America, Africa and Asia currently show the highest growth potential.

“It is important to know how to reap the benefits of this reality,” added the Portuguese PM, who was on his third visit to the region since he took office over a year-and-a-half ago.

According to Passos Coelho, more attention is being placed on the need to open Europe to the world and establish new economic, commercial and political partnerships, and he believes Portugal and Spain can contribute greatly to this.

Europe and Latin America are going through very different economic cycles, with the latter showing strong growth dynamics while the former is implementing measures to exit its economic slowdown. Passos Coelho said these cycles are, in many respects, complementary.

Lorenzo Constans G., President of the Chilean Confederation of Production and Commerce, said of the summit: “At a time when the economic and financial situation contains a certain degree of uncertainty in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean can build a plan for economic, physical and energy integration, jointly aiming to overcome the challenges of development, growth and the eradication of poverty, taking the opportunity presented by the current global situation, particularly considering that the European Union is the second largest commercial partner for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the main investor.

The summit brought together around 300 business leaders and politicians from both regions.