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‘Brexit an Opportunity for Portugal’


Prime Minister António Costa believes Brexit is an opportunity for Portugal and Britain to strengthen their centuries-old alliance.

 The Portuguese Premier was speaking at the Bloomberg headquarters in London in an event destined towards generating British investment.

 While concerns have been raised as to the potentially adverse effects of the 2016 Brexit referendum, numbers revealed  show that British investment in Portugal increased by more than 400 percent in 2017.

Explaining how he envisaged already strong Anglo-Portuguese relations improving even further, António Costa this week said that Brexit should be “transformed into an opportunity for both countries to deepen their special relationships, both on a political and economic level.” 

Taking to Twitter shortly before returning to Portugal, the Portuguese Prime Minister also highlighted the importance of the UK to the safety and defense of Europe, while stressing the importance of safeguarding the rights of Portuguese residents in the UK and those of British expats living in Portugal during his meetings with his British counterpart Theresa May.

He added: “What is important now is to minimise the negative consequences of Brexit and to develop a relationship which is as close as possible with the United Kingdom.”

Addressing the audience in English, the Portuguese Prime Minister referred to the 1386 Treaty of Windsor, which makes Portugal and the UK the world’s oldest allies, with António Costa pledging that the countries will always remain friends.

“In Portugal, you can find a safe haven and fertile ground for your investment,” he was quoted as saying in London by the Lusa News Agency, adding: “When businesses open in Portugal, they can have a two-in-one: Brexit in the UK and stay in the EU by investing in Portugal.”

The Portugal-UK forum, titled ‘An Expanding Alliance’, gathered some 200 participants, including representatives of the financial sector and entrepreneurs.

 Among the speakers was Bernardo Trindade, president of the Portugal IN special mission, a working group set up to attract UK investment in the context of Brexit, and Luís Castro Henriques, president of AICEP Portugal Global, the country’s foreign trade and investment agency.

According to figures released at the event, foreign direct investment in Portugal by UK-based investors last year rose 427 percent to €758 million, ranking the UK fourth worldwide among foreign investors in Portugal.
 On a European level, the UK was the second biggest investor here in 2017. Nonetheless, in the year immediately preceding the Brexit ballot, British investment topped a record €853 million.

According to figures published by Lusa, the UK is the fourth largest taker of Portuguese goods and services, with a total value of €8.074 billion last year, up 7.4 percent on the previous 12 months. Portugal enjoyed a surplus of €4.675 billion, given that it imported goods and services worth €3.399 billion from the UK.

The UK is the largest provider of tourists to Portugal: last year revenue from them swelled 14 percent to €2.591 billion, as the number of overnight stays rose 1.1 percent to 9.280 million.

In a statement, a Downing Street spokesperson revealed the British Prime Minister said that the UK deeply values the long-standing alliance with Portugal and wants to maintain and strengthen those ties in future across a range of areas, including science, defence, and trade and investment.

The spokesperson explained that the two leaders also discussed the recent attacks in Syria and Salisbury and “agreed that the international community needed to come together to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.”

Downing Street further revealed that British Prime Minister “underlined the value she places on the contribution of the Portuguese community in the UK, whereas Prime Minister Costa also welcomed the contribution of UK nationals in Portugal and expressed his desire to maintain a close relationship with the UK after exit.”

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