Sines Port’s ‘brave new plan’ maps Portugal’s path to development

In an impassioned speech in Sines yesterday, minister for infrastructures and housing Pedro Nuno Santos presented the Strategic Plan for Sines Port 2020-2025 – stressing it maps Portugal’s path to economic and social development.

“This is our port. It belongs to the Portuguese people. The port of Sines is very important for Portugal and could become pivotal on an Iberian level”, he told the ceremony at APS (the ports administration base).

There is “potential that we are not yet taking advantage of”, hence the need for the Strategic Plan that has already piqued the interest of Chinese investors (click here).

Coming a day before a visit to Portugal of the US under-secretary of State for economic growth, Mr Santos emphasised that the government “is very available and willing for American investment in Portugal” nonetheless. This comes after foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva intimated as much to the Financial Times earlier this year in response to criticism that Portugal was ‘China’s special friend in the European Union’ (click here).

The masterplan for Sines goes way beyond it becoming an energetic hub, said Mr Santos. “We want the port to allow us to industrialise Portugal”.

Said Jornal Economico, the minister intimated that many Portuguese “did not believe in the country’s potential, or in projects already announced like ‘green hydrogen’ or the ‘railways cluster’.

Regarding the former, he said the country has ‘unique conditions’ to produce hydrogen because 75% of the costs come from electricity, which can be produced here through wind and solar power (ie renewable sources that cost very little).

Mr Santos stressed: “If we manage to be one of the first to get on this train, we can attract new areas of business to Portugal… new investments… new technologies”.

The railway cluster plan is more ‘complex’ in as much as the gauges of Portugal’s tracks don’t conform to those used through the rest of Europe – meaning trains cannot run seamlessly even from Portugal to Spain, which started adopting European gauges 32 years ago.

Thus this week a group headed up by various political heavyweights outside of government has called on Brussels to “use all instruments at its disposal, including community funds” to make Portugal adopt European standards for both merchandise and passenger trains “by 2030 or a little later”.

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