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Portuguese PM aims to build on ties

Wang Mingjie
Updated: Oct 8,2016 7:28 AM     China Daily

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa will make an official visit to China from Oct 8 through Oct 12 at the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang.

The visit will include a speaking engagement at Tsinghua University in Beijing and visits to Shanghai and Shenzhen, where the PM will meet with local authorities, entrepreneurs and investors, and he will attend the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Macao Forum, Costa’s aides said.

Costa said a priority of his visit will be to strengthen relations with China, because Portugal and China have historical links of more than 500 years and because China is now a key partner and an important player on the global stage.

“Although in the past our relations were, for natural historical reasons, focused in Macao, we have been enlarging gradually the scope of our links. Since 2005, we have a global strategic partnership which frames our bilateral relations, pointing at an ambitious set of common targets,” he said in a written interview with China Daily.

Macao, a special administrative region of China, was under the Portuguese rule from the mid-16th century until 1999, when it became the last colonial possession in Asia to be handed back.

Costa emphasized that sincere friendship, mutual trust and complementarity are the key elements toward understanding the real nature of bilateral relations and why both sides are interested in upgrading them.

He outlined that the desire to upgrade relations came from both academic and government bodies as well as private companies and investors, cultural agents and society in general.

The Sino-Portuguese partnership has already proved its enormous potential in traditional areas like trade and investment, Costa said, but global challenges imply global scale partnerships.

“That is why we think that now is the time for a more ambitious approach, assuming that our partnership is particularly well fitted to address new challenges in various fields such as scientific research, environment, energy-including renewables-information technology and biotechnology,” he said.

He added that Portugal is ready to host more Chinese companies. Portugal could also play a positive role in Chinese projects like the Belt and Road Initiative and the global energy interconnection.

A variety of bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during Costa’s visit at both government and private level, which Costa said proves conclusively that the two nations can cooperate successfully, not only at a political level but also in economic, scientific and cultural areas.

Chinese investors already have a significant presence in the Portuguese energy sector with stakes in the Portuguese companies EDP and REN, Costa said, adding “That does not prevent the exploration of new opportunities of investment in the energy sector, namely in interconnections or solar power generation, which we consider of the utmost relevance.

“We are also open to cooperation in transport infrastructures, namely in ports, logistics or railway, that can improve the accessibility of the Portuguese economy to the world markets and thus increase the competitiveness of our economy.”

He underlined Portugal’s advantageous geographic position for access to European, African and American markets, and the country could assume a major role in the flow of goods between these markets.

Costa said he believes the creation of the Macao Forum has strengthened Macao’s mission as an economic, commercial and cultural platform.

“At this level, some important projects are being developed, such as the Economic and Trade Cooperation and Human Resources Portal between China and Portuguese Speaking Countries.”

“This format has already proved to be very fruitful and an excellent tool to reinforce synergies and cooperation, not only between China and Portugal, but among all countries involved.”