Forum | China becomes fifth largest investor in Portugal

China has risen to become the fifth largest foreign investor in Portugal, with over 9 billion euros worth of investment made and 42,000 local jobs created as of the end of last year.

That is according to the ambassador of China in Portugal, Cai Run, who in an interview with the Diário de Notícias newspaper, pointed to finance, insurance, telecommunications, waterworks, health, design and engineering, architecture, aquaculture and catering as important areas of interest to Chinese investors.

Cai said that so far, the Portuguese energy sector, the largest Chinese investment sector, has received 4.5 billion euros of investment. He also recalled that China invested 3.2 billion euros in Portuguese financial companies, gradually setting up comprehensive Sino-Portuguese financial cooperation.

The diplomat attributed the investment to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, appearing to gloss over the role Macau has been designated to play in the Sino-Portuguese economic relationship to facilitate trade, investment and cooperation.

“Chinese companies are active in three-way cooperation in partnership with Portuguese companies, exploring markets in Europe, Latin America and Africa, especially in the Portuguese-speaking countries,” said Cai, as cited by Macauhub, adding that Portugal “as an important part of the terrestrial and maritime silk routes, is a natural partner in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.”

Examples of major Chinese investment in the Atlantic-facing European country include a UnionPay cooperation deal with private bank BCP to issue UnionPay cards and Huawei’s penetration into the mobile phone market. Huawei, which has been established in Portugal for 16 years and owns 31% of the mobile phone market, has seen its investment in the country grow to exceed USD200 million.

Last month, Portugal issued public debt in Renminbi (Panda bonds), becoming the first country in the eurozone to do so. DB

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