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Portugal’s Gold Visa Program is Drawing Scores of Hong Kongers

European Views 21/8/2019

With anti-government demonstrations well into their third month, Hong Kong’s streets are all but soaked in tear gas. Hundreds of flights out of regional nexus point Hong Kong International Airport have been cancelled, and the government was last week forced to slash economic projections in the face of unyielding pro-democracy demands. The city, home to the world’s second largest group of billionaires, is on its knees. 
At the same time, inquiries from Hongkongers about property in Portugal seem to have skyrocketed, with wealthy residents and investors scrambling for alternative residency amid the city’s rapidly deteriorating political situation. 

Since its launch in 2012, Portugal’s golden visa scheme has attracted 7,500 applicants, and facilitated more than 4.6 billion euros in investment in the country. Under the scheme, an individual is eligible for a golden visa if they acquire at least 350,000 euros worth of Portuguese property, granting successful applicants the right to live, work and study in the country in addition to visa-free travel within 26 countries under Europe’s Schengen umbrella. 

From April to June, Chinese and Hong Kong demand for property in the Mediterranean country jumped 40.4 percent from a year ago, the highest number of inquiries in any quarter since 2016. This year, Portugal is among the top three destinations for regional buyers seeking a golden visa abroad.
While the benefits promised by the golden visa program are obvious, it also doesn’t hurt that Lisbon has been ranked by accounting giant PwC as the best city for real estate investment and development prospects among major European cities for the year. In the metropolitan area of the capital, property prices were up by about eight percent last year; rental yields range from 5.5 to six percent.

There remains, however, a potential flashpoint for the scheme. Across the Strait from the beleaguered city, Taiwan has come under fire from Beijing for offering asylum to fleeing Hongkongers. With Portuguese exports to China nearing one billion euros during the first half of this year, this is a weighty string China may be tempted to pull. Until then, ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong are proving a windfall for Portugal’s property market


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