Stories

Portugal in the limelight of companies looking to expand in the EU region

Link to Original Article

Companies are continuing to expand into Portugal and the country is reaping the economic benefits of the added exposure, Bernardo Trindade, President of the Executive Committee of Portugal IN explores

Tech start-ups and digital development centres are being set up all over Portugal and hiring qualified local workers. Google has opened a support centre creating 500 tech jobs for skilled workers, as well as BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, BNP Paribas, Natixis, Zalando, Bosch and Siemens, Euronext, Revolut, among many others.

Expatriates working in these companies are finding a welcoming country with high-quality standards of life. Being a tolerant, open and safe society help it rank the 4th most peaceful in the world. Its privileged hours of daily sunlight, leisure offer, gastronomy, affordability, and healthcare system, contribute to make it the favourite European country for expats to live, and where they find the highest personal happiness. English is widely spoken in business, resulting in being easy to find multinational operations with Portuguese, Spanish, British and German people where English is used as the main language.

The UK investors also recognised this opportunity and are contributing to the momentum. The UK in 2018 climbed to the top position on Portugal source of foreign direct investment – ahead of China, Netherlands and Spain – with an investment flow of £711 million (€896 million), a growth of 18% vs. the previous year. FDI from the UK in 2018 represents almost a quarter of total inward investment to Portugal.

That’s why that in the loom of Brexit, the Portuguese Government is committed to maintaining its ancient preferential status for Britain and its citizens, pillared from the world’s oldest active alliance, established in the Anglo-Portuguese treaty of 1373.

In April 2017, the Government of Portugal launched a temporary taskforce – Portugal IN, aimed at assisting UK businesses to integrate seamlessly in the country for operating their EU bases, in joint work with the Portuguese Trade and Investment Agency, Turismo de Portugal and other public entities. A total of 22 companies from the UK invested in Portugal in the last two years creating more than 1400 jobs, according to FDI Intelligence, a Financial Times service.

Portugal IN task force foresees to work with British businesses and promote Portugal as an ideal destination for investors seeking to remain in the EU. The country offers exceptional guarantees to residents including a friendly tax environment, a modern infrastructure, security, political and economic stability, a comprehensive health system, and access to highly qualified and innovative talent at a competitive labour cost, with the added benefits of staying in the EU and under the same time zone as the UK.

With Portugal and Britain economically interlocked, the Government of Portugal has developed a series of contingency plans for all Brexit scenarios, in order to minimise economic disruptions. Since 2017, the Government has been engaging with the major economic and trade sectors from Portugal that rely on the UK, with specific measures around technical and financial support developed, ready to be deployed to minimise the impact of Brexit on the economy, including a dedicated front office desk to assist UK companies wishing to relocate or branch to Portugal.

With the UK as the largest source of tourists to Portugal, the country also seeks to maintain a smooth and stable process for British visitors, with guarantees of visa exemption, dedicated passport control lanes, possible mutual recognition of driving licenses and access to the Portuguese health service.

Along with the same spirit, Portugal recently launched the #Brelcome campaign to reaffirm the country’s ongoing commitment to British citizens, with the slogan “Portugal will never leave you”. In one month, the campaign reached already more than 13 million people in the UK.

Looking at the big picture regarding investment in Portugal, investors are expressing a growing optimism on the country attractiveness with the majority confident it will continue to improve over the next 3 years, exceeding those of Germany, the UK or France, according to the most recent European survey by EY, a consultant company. This is a clear signal for investors to include the country in their shortlist for potential investment locations.