Prime minister of Portugal António Costa talks about the country’s booming investment climate on a visit to London.

Q: Figures we have from fDi Markets shows Portugal as performing very well, especially relative to its size, in attracting investment. What’s behind the country’s success and how do you plan to keep this momentum going?

A: I think the key element is the people we have and the economic and political stability. Also, Portugal is a very safe country, with good infrastructure and very well connected as we are close to Europe, to the UK, to the US, to Africa. It’s a good place to invest.

Q: Our numbers also show that Portugal is among the European countries seeing a big uptick in investment since the UK voted to leave the EU. Do you see yourselves as a beneficiary of Brexit, at least in an FDI context?

A: Well, I don’t want to insert myself into internal questions of the UK, but of course we are not happy with Brexit. However, when it comes to investment I think a lot of companies, even if they stay in the UK, see Portugal as an attractive option to help them maintain a presence in the EU by also investing in Portugal. Because there are a lot of foreign investors who want to remain in the UK, but also to remain in the EU, and Portugal is a good opportunity to be in the two places in the same time. 

Q: One of the things that tends to happen when there is an influx of investment and people is that markets can overheat. Lisbon, for example, is very hot right now as a technology hub and Portugal in general is a net recipient of people. How can you enjoy this boon while keepings things in balance?

A: For the time being, we are coming from a deep crisis and now it’s very important to boost this growth and we are trying to attract more people. It is why we created the start-up visa to attract more people to work in Portugal with good skills. Figures show that for the first time since the beginning of the century we are in convergence with the EU [economy] since 2017 and all the forecasts indicate that we will continue. This is a very important path and for this we need to attract more FDI and attract more people and [maximise] talent levels. For that we need better jobs and for better jobs we need to attract more investment. 

Q: Portugal is pursuing a policy of openness and progressiveness at a time when some countries are going in the opposite direction. Do you have a message for them? 

A: We like our way of living and want to stay an open country. It is our history, we have been always an open, Atlantic country and our history is history of cultures mixing, of people from Africa, Asia, America or from elsewhere in Europe coming to Portugal.

I’m a product of this cross of cultures because my father came from India. This is the tradition of our country and we are very proud of this openness and I think it is a very important asset and is one of the reasons that we are now attracting such FDI. People like cosmopolitan and open societies.

Q: What are your main priorities for this mandate in office?

A: To continue our past growth and to converge with the EU, not only on an economic basis, but also on a societal basis. We have managed to have sound public finances and we’re willing to keep that, but we need to continue to grow and to offer, especially for the new generation, the opportunity to develop their life in Portugal. This is now the most important: we return to normality.

We have a very export-driven economy, and now that the forecast for the world economic situation is not as bright as it was a few years ago, we need to do more to continue to grow our exports and our our market share. And that’s also why we are here [promoting Portugal in London], trying to do more, trying to attract investors.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine

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