Privatisations in Portugal and partnerships in Africa and South America are focus of presidential visit to China

19 May 2014

The official visit by the Portuguese president to China, accompanied by over 100 businesspeople, put privatisations in Portugal and Luso-Chinese partnerships for Africa and Latin America at the top of the two-way agenda.

In the year that celebrates 35 years since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries, the visit by President Aníbal Cavaco Silva coincided with the official conclusion of the latest Chinese investment in Portugal, by Fosun International in the insurance sector. The Chinese company paid 1 billion euros the insurance arm of Portuguese state financial group Caixa Geral de Depósitos.

At the reception held for the Portuguese President in Beijing on Thursday the Chinese president said Portugal was “a good partner for China in the European Union,” and also mentioned exploring possible three-way cooperation in Africa and Latin America.

He specifically noted the importance of mechanisms such as the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and the Portuguese-speaking Country as contributing to the stability and sustainable development of those regions.

On China’s behalf, President Xi praised Portugal for its ability to come out of the sovereign debt crisis and gave assurances that China would continue to support Portugal by expanding two-way trade and investment in sectors such as energy – both classic and renewable – finance and environmental protection.

The Chinese President noted that the two nations had “mutual respect” for one another including “solving the Macau question, which was an example to the world.”

At the Great Hall of the People, Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva also gave the successful transfer of Macau to Chinese administration as an example, which he said “revealed the political wisdom of both countries.”

Amongst the ministers who accompanied Cavaco Silva was the Economy Minister whose agenda for the visit included Portugal’s privatisation plan, which includes concessions of the transport companies in Lisbon and Porto and the sale of waste company Empresa Geral de Fomento.

Minister Pires de Lima noted recent Chinese investments in Portugal, such as China Three Gorges in power company Energias de Portugal (EDP), China State Grid in electricity grid Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) and Fosun International, at a time when the country was in crisis and, for that reason, “many doubted Portugal.”

The business delegation included 24 companies whose joint turnover is the equivalent of a fifth of Portugal’s gross domestic product (GDP) – such as EDP, but also Galp Energia, Banco Espírito Santo (BES), Correios de Portugal and Grupo Amorim.

EDP signed an agreement to boost its strategic cooperation with China Three Gorges, its main shareholder.

BES renewed its finance agreement with the China Development Bank, securing new credit lines for the next three years, which will support exporting companies.

China is currently Portugal’s 10th largest customer and Portuguese exports to China are expected to be in excess of 1 billion euros in 2014. (macauhub)