PORTUGAL

The Portuguese currency is the euro (€) and the country has been a part of the Eurozone since its inception. Portugal's central bank is the Banco de Portugal, which forms part of the European System of Central Banks, and the major stock exchange is the Euronext Lisbon, which belongs to the NYSE Euronext, the first global stock exchange.

The Portuguese economy has been steady, expanding continuously since the third quarter of 2014, with an annual GDP growth of 1.5% registered in the second quarter of 2015. The economy's growth has been accompanied by a continuous fall in the unemployment rate (6.3% in the first quarter of 2019, compared with 13.9% registered in the end of 2014). The government budget deficit has also been reduced from 11.2% of GDP in 2010 to 0.5% in 2018.

 

These rates mark an inversion from the negative trends caused by the impact of the financial crisis of 2007–2008 in the Portuguese economy, that made it shrink for three consecutive years (2011, 2012 and 2013), accompanied by a high increase in the unemployment rate (that achieved a record of 17.7% in early 2013). The crisis has caused a wide range of domestic problems that are specifically related to the levels of public deficit, as well as the excessive debt levels, in the economy, culminating in the confirmation from Portugal to a €78 billion financial bailout from the EU in April 2011, following similar decisions from Greece and Ireland. The government that assumed office in June 2011 had to face tough choices in regard to its attempts to stimulate the economy while at the same time seeking to maintain its public deficit around the EU average.

Portugal is home to a number of notable leading companies with worldwide reputations, such as The Navigator Company, a major world player in the international paper market; Sonae Indústria, the largest producer of wood-based panels in the world; Amorim, the world leader in cork production; Conservas Ramirez, the oldest canned food producer; Cimpor, one of the world's 10th largest producers of cement; EDP Renováveis, the 3rd largest producer of wind energy in the world; Jerónimo Martins, consumer products manufacturer and retail market leader in Portugal, Poland and Colombia; TAP Air Portugal, highly regarded for its safety record, and one of the leading airlines linking Europe with Africa and Latin America (namely Brazil).

The Portuguese educational system has been in gradual modernization and relative expansion since the 1960s, achieving recognition for its world-standard practices and trends in the 21st century. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, the average Portuguese 15-year-old student, when rated in terms of reading literacy, mathematics and science knowledge, is placed significantly above the OECD's average. Portugal is home to several world-class universities and business schools that have been contributing to the creation of a number of highly renowned international managers and are attracting an increasing number of foreign students.

Portugal has the highest emigration rate as a proportion of population in the European Union. More than two million Portuguese people (20% of the population) now live outside the country.

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© 2019 PHKCCI | Portugal - Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and Industry