The Greater Bay Area (GBA) in China and the Portuguese Speaking Countries (PSCs) present contrasting yet intriguing economic landscapes.
The GBA, comprising cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Macau and Hong Kong, is known for its robust economic growth, technological innovation, and significant contribution to China’s overall GDP.
The region is a hub for high-tech industries, financial services, and has a high per capita GDP, reflecting its advanced economic development.
In contrast, the PSCs, including Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique and Timor, offer a diverse economic picture.
Brazil, the largest among them, has a strong agricultural sector, significant mineral wealth, and a developing industrial base. Portugal, a member of the European Union, boasts a high standard of living and a well-developed service sector. Angola and Mozambique, still recovering from periods of conflict, have economies primarily based on natural resources, with oil and diamonds in Angola and natural gas in Mozambique.
The disparities are evident in key economic indicators. The GBA’s GDP per capita significantly surpasses that of most PSCs, indicating a higher standard of living and economic development. Additionally, the GBA’s focus on technology and innovation-driven industries contrasts with the resource-based economies of some PSCs.
However, the PSCs offer immense potential, with large, young populations, emerging markets, and rich natural resources. Their economic growth, although slower compared to the GBA, has been steady, with countries like Brazil and Portugal showing resilience and adaptability in the face of global economic challenges.
As the Forum Macao recently marked its 20th anniversary, we sought the opinion of a former official of the institution which aims to promote the cooperation between China and Portuguese-Speaking countries on its future role in Macau’s integration with the Greater Bay Area.
A veteran economist with extensive managerial experience in government and in public and private companies, and former deputy secretary-general, Rodrigo Brum emphasizes the economic potential of the GBA, noting its significant contribution to China’s GDP.
“The economic power of the GBA is immense, representing about 12% of China’s GDP in just 1% of its total area,” he said in the interview.
This statistic underscores the economic density and potential of the GBA, making it an attractive destination for international business, especially for PSCs.
In his frequent public interventions, Brum reflects on the historical significance of Macau as a bridge between China and the Portuguese-speaking world: “Macau has historically been a gateway to the outside world, especially for the Lusophone countries.”
This role is further amplified within the context of the GBA, where Macau’s strategic location and cultural ties play a pivotal role.
Brum also discusses the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for PSCs in leveraging the GBA’s potential.
He acknowledges the disparity in company sizes, noting, “the main challenge is the relatively small size of companies from PSCs compared to their Chinese counterparts.”
However, he also sees this as an opportunity for PSCs to focus on niche markets within the GBA and for GBA and other Chinese companies to interact with local companies from each of the PSCs, as experts of each market.
Brum also touches upon the role of the Forum Macao in fostering this relationship.
He sees the Forum as a significant platform that has facilitated the growth of trade and investment between Macau and PSCs. In his view, the Forum has been instrumental in building these bridges but insists that “more proactive steps are needed for future growth.”
The economic diversification of Macau is another critical aspect highlighted by Brum. He suggests moving beyond the gaming industry and exploring other sectors.
“This diversification is seen as crucial for Macau to fully exploit its role within the GBA and as a liaison with PSCs,” he remarked.
Brum’s vision extends to the broader strategic importance of the relationship between Macau, the GBA, and PSCs.
He asserts that “we must not miss the opportunity to capitalize on the support from the Macau SAR and central government in Beijing.”
This statement reflects his belief in the potential of this relationship to foster significant economic and cultural exchanges.
In the interview, Rodrigo Brum paints a vivid picture of the multifaceted relationship between Macau, the GBA, and Portuguese-speaking countries.
His insights emphasize the economic potential, historical significance, and strategic importance of this relationship. By acknowledging the challenges and emphasizing the opportunities, Brum provides a roadmap for leveraging this unique geopolitical and economic landscape.
His views underscore the necessity for strategic alignment, economic diversification, and proactive engagement “to maximize the benefits of this dynamic tripartite relationship.”