Portuguese business owners say local partnerships are only way forward for good business in China

17 August 2006

Lisbon, Portugal, 17 Aug – Three of the most important business owners in Portugal, Jorge Armindo, António Pires de Lima e João Pereira Coutinho, told Portuguese financial daily Diário Económico, that alliances with local partners were the only way for Portuguese companies to be successful in China.

The contribution of local partners was decisive in overcoming both distance and cultural differences, the Portuguese managers told Diário Económico.

China “has a business culture that is entirely different from ours,” said the chairman of Unicer, Pires de Lima, although he said that Portuguese companies should seriously ponder investment in China as it was “a country under construction.”

This opinion in shared by the former chairman of Portucel, Jorge Armindo, who said that distance and “communication difficulties” as the biggest obstacles to be overcome, although he added that China was a market that Portuguese companies “cannot ignore.”

According to Armindo, moving companies to China “is not a long term solution,” and so Portuguese companies should focus on products and services with “added value.”

Armindo said that Portuguese companies should be quick to “make use of the boom of the new Chinese middle classes,” pointing out that Portuguese tourist potential is the country’s main advantage.

Pereira Coutinho, the chairman of SGC, also highlighted the “big differences” in terms of corporate culture. However, he also pointed out the interdependence between Europe and China.

“With its unstoppable growth, China quickly needs infrastructures and so Europe can have many opportunities there,” Coutinho told the paper.

“But it is only worth investing there with reasonably-sized projects,” and which create added value, Coutinho said.