The 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Portugal and the People’s Republic of China on 8 February brought key players together in Lisbon at a time of “fast track” two-way relations, according to China’s ambassador to Portugal.
Ambassador Cai Run, speaking at the “Forty years of diplomatic relations between Portugal and the People’s Republic of China” conference at the Oriente Foundation, said that the “fast track” was opened up after the successful transfer of Macau’s administration, the establishment in 2005 of the bilateral Global Strategic Partnership, which has entered “a new phase of development” and the visit of President Xi Jinping to Portugal in 2018.
This visit, he noted, led to the signing of 17 agreements between the two countries, including a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation under the so-called “New Silk Road,” an initiative due to hold its 2nd international Forum in April, with the presence of the Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
Business projects, Cai Run said, were also a sign of the strength of bilateral relations, including the recent agreement between Banco Comercial Português (BCP), whose main shareholder is the Fosun group, and Unionpay International, for joint issuance of credit cards, the start of Portuguese pork exports to China, and the opening of the international shared services centre of the COFCO (China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation) group in Matosinhos, which will employ 160 people in the first phase and 400 in the future.
Cai Run also said that Chinese investment in Portugal had already exceeded 9 billion euros and should continue to grow, while trade last year rose by more than 7.0% to US$6.01 billion.
At the conference the Portuguese Secretary of State for Internationalisation, Eurico Brilhante Dias, noted Portugal’s interest in joining the New Silk Road, as well as the pioneering character among the European Union countries of the memorandum signed with China during the Chinese president’s visit.
Beyond sea and land links, the Chinese initiative is focused on “growth and well-being, and creating collective wealth,” an objective in which the two strategic partners are aligned.
While China in Portugal, in addition to the energy, financial and insurance sectors, “is beginning to be present in the services, industry and in a particular area that Portugal wants to continue to foster: electric mobility,” the Portuguese government is extending its representation in China, preparing to open a new AICEP trade and investment promotion centre in Guangzhou to add to its offices in Beijing, Macau and Shanghai.
Macau, “continues and will continue to be one of the distinctive elements or the most distinctive element of the bilateral relationship and Portugal is participating in a committed way” in Forum Macau, and this year intends to assign an exclusive national delegate to the organisation for the first time.