Portuguese prime minister visits China to boost economic ties

31 January 2007

Beijing, China, 31 Jan – Portugal’s prime minister, José Sócrates, is to meet Wednesday in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, on the second day of an official five-day visit which will also take him to Shanghai and Macau, officials said.

José Sócrates also attended the Portugal/China Forum for Economic Cooperation 2007 Wednesday, which brought together businesspeople from both countries.

After the meeting with Wen, Sócrates is due to attended a ceremony for signing agreements between the governments of Lisbon and Beijing.

On arriving in Beijing, Sócrates said that Portugal’s membership of the European Union and its historical links with Africa where motivations for China to develop political relations with the Portuguese authorities.

“Portugal is interested in developing political relations with China. But China is also interested in developing a relationship with us, because Portugal is in the European Union, has privileged links with Africa and has an important role to play in the main international institutions,” Sócrates said.

Sócrates also noted that his visit to China was aimed at, “preparing for the Portuguese presidency of the European Union,” which begins in the second half of the year.

“There are matters under negotiation,” he said, alluding to the summit between the European Union and China, to be held in Beijing in November.

As well as political relations, the Prime Minister said Portugal aimed to strengthen its economic ties with China, as it is a country, “which over the last few years has had a notable economic performance.”

“Within a few years, we want to double our exports to China and, to do that, we want a better political relationship and more efficient diplomacy,” he said.

According to figures from the Portuguese government, between January and October last year exports to the market made up of the People’s Republic of China, Macau and Hong Kong, had risen 30 percent year on year.

Figures from the Portuguese National Statistics Institute (INE) showed that, over the last five years, Portuguese exports to China have increased.

In 2005 Portuguese exports to China totaled 170.6 million euros, which represented an increase of around 69 percent against the previous year.

However, Portugal ranks low amongst China’s suppliers, occupying 64th place in 2005 with a market share of 0.05 percent.

In terms of balance of trade, INE said that Portugal traditionally posts a deficit with China, which increased significantly in 2004, 2005 and the first quarter of 2006, reaching over 116 million euros. (macauhub)