Foreign minister denies Portugal is China’s ‘special friend in the EU’

Portugal to become “powerful cluster of industrialisation in Europe”

Portugal’s strategy to overcome the crisis caused by the pandemic of Covid-19 is to transform the country into a “powerful cluster of industrialisation in Europe”.

Minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva outlined the way forwards at a hearing of the commission for the economy and innovation today saying: “The first axis (of this strategy) is that Portugal means to be at the forefront of Europe’s reindustrialisation and put its enormous capacities in industrial matters at the service of Europe”.

Said the minister, “we’re talking about textiles, clothing, shoes but also engineering, pharmaceuticals, agrifoods”.

In line with focus already outlined by the prime minister, Santos Silva said the crisis – particularly when it came to the way in which the economy has been affected – “has made us all learn lessons which could be an opportunity for Portugal and Europe.

One of these lessons is that Europe’s economy needs reindustrialisation, he stressed – and this could be precisely where Portugal steps in.

“Portugal has enormous advantages from the human security point of view”, said Santos Silva, citing “the quality of its health systems, public safety, living conditions, well-being” and the fact that these qualities are “essential” assets for tourism.

He stressed the country has “important assets it can and should use: the qualification of human resources, ‘multilingual domain’, technology, quality of services and quality of the ecosystem of knowledge and innovation”.

The minister also highlighted “areas in which Portugal dominates today, starting with renewable energies…”

Where all these is really going will no doubt become clearer over the coming months.

Santos Silva veered towards exports, saying a ‘double direction would make even more sense’, explaining, say reports that focus also has to be on Europe’s internal market – the destination of roughly ¾ of Portugal’s export trade – as well as external markets, specifically Africa and Latin America.

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