The economic and trade relations between China and Portugal have entered a period of steady development with bilateral trade volume increasing rapidly and Chinese investment in Portugal expanding, Chinese Ambassador to Portugal Cai Run said here on Wednesday.[Special coverage]
In an interview with Xinhua before the opening of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries in Macao on Tuesday, Cai said China-Portugal ties are at their historical best and as 2016 marks the starting year of the second 10 years since the establishment of their comprehensive strategic partnership, their relationship also faces great opportunities.
He said that there is huge potential for the development of China-Portugal trade as it only accounts for a small proportion of their respective total foreign trade volume.
Statistics from China Customs show bilateral volume of trade in goods between China and Portugal was 3.931 billion euros (4.34 billions U.S. dollars) in 2015, an increase of 8.58 percent year on year, among which Chinese export to Portugal reached 2.606 billion euros (2.88 billion dollars) and its import from Portugal was 1.325 billion euros (1.46 billion dollars), up 10.11 percent and 5.67 percent respectively.
China is Portugal's biggest trade partner in Asia while Portugal is China's 18th trade partner in the European Union (EU). Despite a decline in global trade volume, China-Portugal trade maintained a rapid growth rate with bilateral volume of trade in goods totaling 3.208 billion euros (3.54 billion dollars) in the first eight months of 2016 and Chinese export to Portugal reaching 2.343 billion euros (2.59 billion dollars), up 19.37 percent and 33.30 percent year on year respectively.
In recent years, Chinese investment in Portugal has increased dramatically and Portugal has become one of the major countries of Chinese investment in the EU, the Chinese ambassador said.
According to incomplete statistics, by the end of August 2016, Chinese investment in Portugal exceeded 6.6 billion euros (7.29 billion dollars), covering such sectors as energy, electricity, communication, civil aviation, finance, insurance, health care, providing job opportunities for more than 21,000 local people.
Chinese enterprises have also actively fulfilled social responsibilities in Portugal, playing a key role in helping revitalize the country's economy and having won praise from the Portugal side, Cai said.
As Portugal is an important EU member with broad influence in Portuguese-speaking countries, Chinese enterprises in Portugal attach great importance to and actively take advantage of the country's role as a bridge and platform. They have made progress in utilizing Portugal's convenient market access, carrying out third-party market cooperation with Portuguese enterprises and exploring markets in Portuguese-speaking, European and American countries, Cai said.
China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG), through its company in Portugal, develops hydropower, wind power and new energy markets with Portugal in Latin America, Europe and the United States. The CTG accelerates its internalization and global expansion through tripartite cooperation and has become the second largest private power enterprise in Brazil.
With the framework of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, China, Portugal and East Timor have implemented the training project on marine shrimp farming this year.
Cai added that there is great potential for China-Portugal economic and trade cooperation. The year 2016 is the beginning year of the "13th Five-Year Plan" and China will continue to deepen reform and opening up in the coming five years under the guidance of the five development concepts of innovation, coordination, green development, opening up and sharing. Meanwhile, China will promote international production cooperation within the framework of its Belt and Road Initiative.
With an aim to adjust its economic structure, the Portuguese government has developed strategic planning to stimulate economic growth, encourage investments and increase employment opportunities, according to the Chinese ambassador.
As an important partner of the Belt and Road Initiative and a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Portugal can enhance communication with China and cooperate with China in various fields within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Cai said, adding that the two sides are promoting Portugal's agricultural and aquatic exports to China, accelerating the construction of an e-commerce platform, facilitating import process, consolidating traditional trade and expand service trade.
He said China and Portugal hope to further expand two-way investment, strengthen energy, finance, infrastructure and marine investment cooperation and to provide a favorable investment environment and convenient conditions for enterprises.
China and Portugal will strengthen their cooperation mechanisms such as the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation China and Portuguese-speaking Countries and a bilateral mixed committee on economy and trade to achieve a brighter future, said Cai.