Lisbon and Beijing focus on strengthening economic relations

Lisbon and Beijing signed a protocol for the strengthening of bilateral relations. Beijing wants Portuguese investment. Lisbon wants to be China's gateway to Europe.

Strengthening economic relations in general, investing in the industry, commerce, and tourism areas and new business opportunities was the purpose of the Beijing-Lisbon Cooperation Forum, which was held this Wednesday afternoon in a hotel in the Portuguese capital. This was an initiative of the Cabinet of Investment Promotion in Beijing (GPIP) and the Portuguese Division of the People's Daily.

At the occasion, the deputy director of GPIP highlighted some of the most important partnerships already developed, such as the one that brings together the Chinese electric company Three Gorges with the Portuguese EDP and the presence of the Fosun fund in the capital of BCP Millennium and the insurance company Fidelidade. He also noted that there are still many other business opportunities and called for the mobilization of Portuguese investors in projects in the area of the Chinese capital.

With a population of 22 million people (Roughly the double of Portugal's population) Beijing has at this time a gross domestic product per head of 17 thousand Euros and acts as "the center of innovation" and "leader in the consumer market in China," explained Zhang Hua.

Beijing has served "as a gateway for entry and expansion" to major international brands in the Chinese market, with more than 4,000 companies based in the city today, 56 of which are among the 500 largest in the world.

He also stressed the importance of the most prestigious universities of the country being located in Beijing and a whole array of infrastructures that allow for a "high quality of life for foreign investors." And for these there are plenty of investment opportunities, from "service industries," where the Chinese capital is playing a pioneering role, to the cutting-edge technology sector. Zang Hua pointed out that Beijing-based companies have advantageous incentives, particularly those in the areas of new technologies, information technologies, education, tourism and financial services. The objective is to enable the establishment of important companies in the area of the Chinese capital, namely in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei triangle.

The city of Huairou was shown as an example of the way China is investing in the future, here Artificial Inteligence, Smart devices, new generation technology, power supply alternatives and Health Investigation investment are privileged.

In addition to these sectors, the head of the GPIP listed important future events such as the World Horticultural Exhibition in 2019 and the Winter Olympic Games in 2022, as investment opportunities open to Portuguese companies in areas such as infrastructures, hotels and leisure spaces.

But Portugal is not only a target for Beijing's strategy to raise foreign investment, it is also seen as a "link" with Europe in the framework of the New Silk Road, the "Uma Faixa uma Rota" Initiative project launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping.

The importance of Portugal and its relation with China was highlighted in a subsequent intervention by Rui Coelho, head of a body similar to GPIP, Invest Lisboa (a partnership of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the municipality of Lisbon to promote the Portuguese capital). For Rui Coelho, Lisbon has all the conditions to be "the base of Chinese companies" to be present "in Europe and the Atlantic" - to be China's "platform of trade and investment for Europe."

As a sign of the importance of the Lisbon-Beijing relation and of the common strategy for the strengthening of this bilateral relationship, protocols were signed at the end of the Forum. The protocols signed are between the Chinese entity and Invest Lisboa and between GPIP and the Mandarin-written news portal about Portugal, Haiwainet. Other representatives of the GPIP and the Portuguese side also intervened.

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