Portugal wants to cooperate with China in Africa

12 December 2005

Lisbon, Portugal, 12 Dec – Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates, said Saturday in Lisbon that Portugal could be China’s “gateway to Africa.”

“China has the capital; we know the land, the language and the traditions. Portugal could be a gateway to Africa and to some areas of Latin America,” Sócrates told a room of Portuguese and Chinese businesspeople.

Sócrates, who plans to visit China, “in the first few months of next year,” was speaking at the end of an economic seminar alongside Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, on a two-day official visit to Portugal.

Ensuring the audience that China was a priority in Portugal’s foreign relations policy, Sócrates outlined the advantages that both countries could make use of in the new stage of their relationship.

“China provides production platforms for Portuguese export companies that want to compete on a world level,” he said.

“It also offers a vast market with ever increasing demand – there is a market in China of as much consumption as any European market,” he added.

Sócrates also said that, “China could become a large foreign investor,” in Portugal.

As for Portugal, apart from being a “gateway to Africa,” could also serve as a, “entry way and logistic platform for Chinese products in Europe,” the Portuguese prime minister said.

Wen Jiabao also mentioned China’s interest in a strategic global partnership with the aim of, “joint exploration of Portuguese-speaking markets.”

The Chinese prime minister also highlighted Macau’s role in the context of these contacts and said the territory was a privileged platform for moving ahead on them.

Sócrates and Wen Jiabao Friday signed a diplomatic agreement which elevated Portugal’s status to a “strategic global partner”.

Wen Jiabao said at the time, that Beijing would “open its market to Portugal and resolve the issue of Portugal’s trade deficit.”

“We are also going increase Chinese investment in Portugal, which will not only have Portugal as its target, but will also be aimed at European Union countries,” he said.

“All the advances made by China in various areas have been very positive and it is that that has contributed to improved political and economic relationships between the EU and China,” Sócrates said at the time.

“That development has led the European Union working towards China having the status of market economy. In that area Portugal will also work within the framework of the EU for Beijing to have that status for China’s benefit, but also for Europe and, consequently, Portugal,” Sócrates said. (macauhub)