Meeting of China-Portuguese-speaking businesspeople in São Tomé and Príncipe leads to 10 potential deals

The São Tomé Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APCI) will follow up on potential deals that resulted from the meeting of entrepreneurs from China and Portuguese-speaking countries, said the director of the São Tomé and Príncipe agency.

Rafael Branco told Macauhub that the 14th Entrepreneurs Meeting for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries was “very positive” for the APCI, allowing it “to reach a large number of investors” and business associations from different provinces of China.

The director of the São Tomé agency said that on the two days of the meeting, 8 and 9 July, many contacts had been made, resulting in ten deals that could become a reality.

Branco, who has headed the APCI only for the last few months, has been investing in the country’s potential as a free zone, legislation is already in place that allows the creation of offshore companies and banks and even trust funds.

In the case of offshore banks, the regulation has already been drafted by the central bank of the archipelago, but the remaining cases have yet to be regulated so that the projects “do not fall to the discretion of the decision-maker at the time,” thus giving investors greater security.

“The country has great potential for business domiciliation to take advantage of tax benefits,” said the APCI director, who said he has already had several proposals to set up in the free zone, “an activity that could even overtake tourism.”

Former Prime Minister Rafael Branco also told Macauhub that there are three entities interested in exploring gaming on the archipelago and that the existing regulation “is sufficient.”

Rather than carrying out investment fundraising missions, Branco has set the priority, by 2020, of improving the country’s conditions for attracting investment, notably legislation, which stipulates that investment projects have to be reviewed by various public bodies.

An example of this “less proactive attitude” is the advice that the APCI itself is required to request from other bodies, which is “rarely” delivered within the 10 days set out in the law.

Practical measures to improve the archipelago’s position in international business environment classifications include accelerating deadlines for granting permits or licenses to install water or energy.

Branco, who said he did not plan to stay with the APCI for very long, noted his aim is to help create a business environment centred on the effectiveness of public administration. (Macauhub)