By: CHRIS GRAEME
THE PORTUGUESE aeronautics industry could sign a 100 million euro deal with the Algerian Air Force to supply parts and maintain its aircraft.
The proposed deal follows in the wake of a series of accords signed on Monday between the two countries, who have pledged support for a diplomatic peace mission to end years of strife in the Western Saharan region of Magreb.
According to diplomatic sources at the MNE, Ministério Negocios Estrangeiros, if the five-year supply and maintenance contract goes ahead, it would be the most lucrative and economically important deal to come out of the II Portuguese-Algerian Summit.
The President of the OGMA, Indústria Portuguesa de Aeronáutica, Eduardo Bonini, said that the contract has been in the process of being “brokered” with the Algerian authorities “since the second half of 2007.”
“Algeria is a very interesting market for the OGMA since we already have strong interests in neighbouring markets such as Libya and Tunisia,” he said, adding that Algeria offered “enormous potential in terms of cooperation and business” for Portugal.
Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates has been involved in the Summit, which took place in the Algerian capital of Algiers at the weekend and ended on Monday.
The summit was dominated by questions such as economic cooperation, particularly at an energy level (oil) and the need to bring stability to Magreb.
Other Portuguese top brass at the summit included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luís Amado, the Transport Minister Mário Lino, and the Minister for the Economy, Manuel Pinho.
On Monday afternoon José Socrates met with the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to discuss crises and conflicts in the Middle East.
It is the third time that the Portuguese government has visited Algeria in the past six months.
A number of key Portuguese companies were also represented on the official visiting committee including EDP, CTT, PT, Galp, Teixeira Duarte, Edifer, Opway and Coba.
An estimated 42 billion Euros is up for investment grabs in Algeria between now and 2009 for housing, road, rail, water and electrical projects as well as dams and power-led projects. Portugal hopes to get a slice of the cake.
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