Transport and Energy at the centre of expansion of Luso-China relations

6 November 2017

The political and economic relations between Portugal and China are at the highest level ever and can expand further with Portuguese companies taking an active role in the new maritime silk road, as intended by the Portuguese authorities.

Speaking at the Portugal-China Gala, organised by the China-Portugal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on 2 November in Lisbon, the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said the two countries are currently experiencing the “3rd stage” of their partnership, which began with large Chinese investments in Portugal in recent years.

“Qualitatively richer than the previous (stages),” the current stage is open to cooperation in science and technology, in particular in research into new materials, information and communication technologies, in addition to the sea and the ‘Blue Economy,'” said the Portuguese President.

At an event this year dedicated to the new maritime silk road, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said Portugal is included in this strategy of the Chinese government, focusing on the potential of Sines, as a connection to neighbouring Spain and other countries of the European Union, as well as Africa and Asia.

Stressing that the bilateral relations are “perhaps at their best moment since the establishment of diplomatic relations,” Rebelo de Sousa expressed a desire to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping in Lisbon, which may happen in 2018.

Cai Run, the Chinese Ambassador in Portugal, stressed the closeness of relations at a political level, with frequent contacts between the authorities of the two countries.

On a business level, the diplomat said, trade has been expanding steadily, as has Chinese investment in Portugal, estimated at 9 billion euros.

The managers at the business conference which preceded the gala generally agreed on the positive current relations between the two countries.

Yang Ya, chief financial officer of China Three Gorges, the main shareholder of EDP – Energias de Portugal, said the strategic partnership and co-investment” between the two companies, with joint projects in Brazil and in the European Union, was an example of a “solution with mutual benefits.”

After completing three dams in Brazil, with the help of EDP, on time and within budget, CTG is currently the 2nd largest company in the Brazilian market for energy generation and is seeking “opportunities in African countries, like Mozambique.”

“EDP will be supported by CTG and grow strongly in international markets,” said Yang Ya.

Coinciding with the visit to China by the Portuguese minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino, to promote the port of Sines, the conference in Lisbon with the participation of officials from a number of Portuguese public entities, who also noted the role the port can have within the Belt and Road strategy.

Lince Faria, of the board of the port of Sines stressed in particular the projects of the new “Vasco da Gama” terminal and a logistics area “for deployment of high value-added industry,” which make the port a “unique expansion area in Europe,” that is well-positioned for the Chinese strategy, also because of its links to Europe, America and Africa.

Wu Zhiwei, president of Tin Min Jade, said that Macau is “currently an international city in East Asia,” is “an important point on the Maritime Silk Road,” with important links to the Portuguese culture and “has high recognition” of the Chinese government “for the important role it plays as a platform for economic and trade cooperation between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries.”

“So, with the development of the Belt and Road initiative, we believe that many Chinese companies, not only state ones, but also private, will want to go to Portugal to search for opportunities and investment partners,” said the businessman. (macauhub)