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EACCNY Country Highlight: PORTUGAL

EACC New York is inviting European countries, member states and non-member states, to share some fun facts about their country with the EACC network to showcase their home country’s cultural beauty, economic strengths, and their role in transatlantic trade & investment.

In conjunction with Portugal’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we present a profile of the country of PORTUGAL.

A quick fun fact about your country: According to The Global Peace Index, Portugal is the 3rd safest country in the World, the safest in mainland Europe.

What is a famous dish from your Country and do you like it? Do you eat it a lot? Portugal has a very old and rich gastronomy with French and Mediterranean influence, that emphasizes fish, meat, olive oil, bread, tomato, herbs, and spices. Although there are dozens of different traditional dishes, three come to my mind:

  1. Green in color, Caldo Verde is a delicious and hearty soup made with collard greens or kale, combined with potato puree, slices of Portuguese sausage (chouriço) and local olive oil.
  2. Bacalhau, dried and salted codfish, is perhaps the main national dish, although there are more than 365 different ways to cook bacalhau. From grilled, baked, canned, and fried you’ll easily find your eating pleasure.
  3. Pastel de Nata is the iconic and famous Portuguese dessert. It is a sweet and creamy Portuguese egg tart made of flour, butter, eggs, cinnamon and of course sugar. It is so addictive, it might become your daily pastry of choice.

And yes, you can find it in New York….

What is your Country’s strongest connection to NYC? To the US? There has always been a very strong connection between Portugal and the US since the birth of the United States. A few fun, historical facts:

  1. The Independence of the United States was toasted with Madeira wine (Portuguese wine from the Madeira Islands)
  2. In 1791, following the Revolutionary War, Portugal was one of the first countries (the first neutral country) to recognize and establish diplomatic ties with the United States.
  3. The first US Consulate in the world was set up in Madeira.
  4. The oldest continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world is located in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores.
  5. One of Jefferson’s best friends was a Portuguese, Abbot Correia da Serra, the only person outside the President’s family to have his own room in Monticello.
  6. Washington counted on Peter Francisco, a man from the Azores, to help him win the war.

Today, Portugal’s strongest connection to the United States is the presence of a sizeable and vibrant Portuguese community, the largest Portuguese diaspora in the world (1.5 million people) which is getting increasingly influential at all levels, mainly in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Hawaii.

In your view, what is the hottest industry/field in your Country at the moment? There are a few industries that are doing quite well and have been attracting new investments into Portugal in the recent years. Some examples are the aero-spatial industry, life sciences, and automotive (tech solutions for mobility). However, when highlighting the hottest industry, we should mention the Tech Industry which is the one that is attracting more attention and investment from all over the world.

Talent, young and technically savvy workforce, desire to innovate, investment incentives and a remarkably stable political climate, are the reasons mentioned by IT giants such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Siemens and others that recently invested in Portugal in tech, with new greenfield investments and/or expansions.

How is your Country attracting foreign business? Portugal has very strong arguments to attract foreign business, in what concerns trade and investment.

The country is an important market for the Automotive Industry, assuring the full value chain, and is a very good location for other traditional industries  such as footwear, clothing, home textiles, and agri-food among others, due to a strong know how and very competitive operational costs.

For the past 5 years Portugal became a hot spot for technology and Centers of Excellence in different fields.  Just to highlight some investments in the automotive tech sector:

  • BMW, which surveyed close to 100 cities for a new global software engineering hub, selected the northern Portuguese town of Porto, in partnership with Portugal’s Critical Software. “We studied various locations, and in Portugal we found talent — a lot of talent — and a desire to innovate,” said BMW Group Senior Vice President of Electronics Christophe Grote.
  • Mercedes-Benz is equally effusive about the location for its first Digital Delivery Hub, which it opened in the Portuguese capital in 2017. “Lisbon is establishing itself as the new ‘place to be’ for the digital world: it is precisely here that Mercedes-Benz wishes to drive its future digital transformation from premium automobile manufacturer to premium mobility service provider,” said the German automaker.

With a high qualified workforce –  3rd highest rate of engineering graduates in Europe, #7 Proficiency index 2020 (high proficiency in English) – and a very competitive business climate, Portugal offers an excellent quality of life and is a safe country. We are proud to say that we rank #1 World’s best quality of life for expats and #3 safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index.

What is your Country’s most successful export product? The most relevant export products are motor vehicles and automotive components.

What are some best-practice insights for businesses seeking to move/expand into your Country? The entity responsible for the attraction of FDI and promotion of the country is AICEP – The Portuguese Trade and Investment Agency.

AICEP is a “One Stop Shop” public agency, that provides comprehensive and accurate information and data, benchmark reports with other locations; organizes and schedules site visits with local entities, including local authorities, universities, training centers, HR companies and peer companies; provides different site  proposals according to project specifications and helps setting up direct contacts with local entities.

With all these support, foreign companies are able to have a complete overview of the best way to establish a business in Portugal, considering the experience of several players and entities.

After the implementation of the project in the country, AICEP provides “After Care Services”, supporting the companies on all subsequent phases of their operations in Portugal.

What’s the biggest cultural difference you’ve noticed between America and your County? The main cultural difference I have noticed between the United States and Portugal is that life in Portugal goes at a much relaxing pace than in the United States. In Portugal, people tend to be less “fast-food” paced, paying more attention to family and friendship relationships. On the business side, while in the US decisions are made quickly and are almost solely profit oriented, in Portugal the decision process takes longer and a trusting relationship must often be established first.

In the grand scheme, what do strong European-American relationships mean to your country? Being both an Atlantic and a European country, Portugal has always been a strong advocate of an ever closer relationship between the European Union and the United States. That translates into the current Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council’s list of priorities with the strengthening of the transatlantic relationship in all areas being one of our top priorities.

Portugal is particularly well placed to act as bridge-builder between both sides of the Atlantic in what concerns the multiple dimensions of the transatlantic relationship. We have been fulfilling this role with enthusiasm and determination, as recognized by both our American and European partners.

On a bilateral level, Portugal and the United States are more than friends, they are allies: both countries have a long-standing bilateral Defense Agreement, both were founding members of NATO, and the Azores has been hosting an American military base for decades. Portugal and the United States share the same democratic values, they see eye to eye in international relations, and face global challenges together.

This bilateral relation of both countries has been spreading to all sectors of activity, with particular intensity these last few years. In this regard, the figures of the bilateral economic relations speak for themselves: trade – the United States are Portugal’s second most important partner (after the UK) outside the EU; variety of investments; tourism – more than 1,2 million of Americans visited Portugal in 2019, before the pandemic.

Compliments of AICEP Portugal Global – a member of the EACCNY.