Chinese businessman in Portugal wants to make use of Portugal’s position for China-Angola trade

19 March 2007

Lisbon, Portugal, 19 March – The president of the Luso-Chinese Center for Distribution and Business and the Ango-Sino Industrial Park Center recently said that Portugal had a unique position to serve as a commercial platform between China and Angola and called fore greater investment by the Portuguese government in promoting trilateral trade.

“China’s door is always open to Portugal. If the support of the Portuguese government and the knowledge the Portuguese have about China become stronger, access to the country will be easier and the role of bridge between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries will be strengthened,” said Zhan Yongqiao in an interview with official Chinese news agency New China.

Zhan noted that Angola was a large market with a lot of potential for Chinese and Portuguese businesspeople and said he aimed to make use of what he saw as “Portugal’s advantages and the commercial opportunities of the African country,” to steer companies increasingly towards the Portuguese, Angolan and even Western European markets.

“If Portugal wanted to take on that role of bridge, its has great strength as in Angola the customs and religions are similar to those of Portugal. And the most important thing: Angola is a Portuguese-speaking country, which favors communication with Portugal,” the businessman told New China.

Although Angola has already overtaken South Africa to become China’s biggest African trading partner with total trade of over US$11.8 billion in 2006, according to figures from the Chinese trade ministry, Zhan said he believed that trade between China and Angola could be increased further and could include Portugal, particularly for the construction materials sector.

“We are creating a distribution center for Chinese construction materials in Lisbon, which aims to set up a distribution platform in Portugal from which Chinese products can more easily enter European and Portuguese-speaking African markets, particularly Angola,” Zhan said.

In order to supply the distribution platform, according to the businessman a process of selection of 150 construction materials suppliers is already underway in the Chinese provinces where products are most competitive – Guangdong (southern China, bordering Macau), Zhejian and Fujian (ion eastern China) and the city of Shanghai, the country’s industrial, economic and financial center.

“Our plan is to present directly the Chinese products to Angolan consumers,” Zhan said.

“Portugal is the first market chosen by Angolans. This is followed buy South Africa, Brazil and Dubai, while China is in fifth place,” he said.

“Quality is the first criteria for selection, with price following and therefore we can’t consider the commercial interest of the product with taking into account the image of China. In the past, some Chinese manufacturers denigrated the country’s image, but now that is different,” he said.

Zhan, who has lived in Portugal since he was 19, said that the distribution platform – which was in the design phase and would include a 23,000 square meter warehouse, an office with 1,616 square meters and a car park for 250 cars – would benefit Portugal as it “could offer employment to the Portuguese, as well as having positive effects on taxation.”

Shan also said he hoped that distribution would be a vehicle for the internationalization of Chinese companies via Portugal, and aims to “occupy a considerable part of the construction materials market in Portugal, Spain and Angoal.”

Zhan also said that there was still a way to go for Portuguese businesspeople to discover the opportunities in China, as he noted there was a lack of institutional support for commercial exchange, which limited possibilities for investors.

He therefore wants to use the structure of the Portugal-China Friendship and Cultural Exchange Association (AAICPC) to present Portuguese investors with investment projects in China, particularly for the western part of the country where, he told New China, “there is more room for investment.” (macauhub)