China’s business potential via Macau relatively unexploited by Portuguese companies

28 June 2010

Porto, Portugal, 28 Jun – The head of the Portuguese Enterprise Association (AEP) has called attention to the “huge and relatively unexploited business potential” that China represents for Portuguese companies, highlighting the role Macau can play in business cooperation.

“Cultural distance” is the main obstacle to business relations between the two countries and “cooperation with other companies” already present in China has emerged as the best solution. In this respect, Macau is “especially well positioned to play a major role in this kind of cooperation strategy”, Jose Antonio Barros said on Friday.

“The Macau companies’ knowledge of Far Eastern markets, especially in Guangdong province, cannot continue to be disdained by Portuguese companies seeking relations with China and particularly with that province,” said Barros, who was taking part in the seminar on “Economic, Commercial and Services Cooperation between Guangdong, Macau and Portugal”, held in the city of Porto.

The AEP president said that the bilateral relationship between Portugal and Macau nevertheless “remains disappointing, given the very low importance it presents in the structure of Portuguese external trade.”

“In 2009 Macau was the 72nd ranking client of Portugal, with just over 12 million euros exported, and its 143rd supplier, with imports of only 350,000 euros. The structure of our exports to Macau, with food products accounting for more than half the total, is a good indicator of how bilateral trade is marked by the inertia of the past,” he said.

For Barros, these figures do not reflect the potentials of the Portuguese economy and its position “as the gateway to Europe”, nor do they show “the potentials of Macau and its position as a gateway to China and the entire Far East”.

Although Portuguese exports to China increased at an average annual rate of 17 percent in the last five years, and recently upped the pace “significantly, to the point that China has been the destination recording the strongest growth rate for Portuguese exports (32 percent), the AEP president stressed that “even so, this is not even 1 percent of total Portuguese exports”.

The head of the business delegation from Guangdong province, Wu Jun, highlighted the economic importance of the Pearl River Delta (region including Macau, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and other Chinese cities), whose gross domestic product (GDP) is one tenth of China’s GDP and where there is “a very favourable investment environment”. (macauhub)