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Comemorações do Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas
Comemorações do Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas
Lamego, 9 de junho de 2015 see more: Comemorações do Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas

SPEECHES

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Speech by the President of the Republic at the Opening of the Entrepreneurial Forum
Sofia, Bulgaria, 16 June 2015

I would address a special word of thanks to President Rosen Plevneliev for his presence in this Entrepreneurial Forum, which greatly honours me.

I also wish to congratulate the Bulgarian and Portuguese agencies that coordinate and promote foreign trade and investment for their organization of this initiative, which had the inestimable support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bulgaria.

I greet and present my thanks to all the entrepreneurs and participants in this Forum.

Bulgaria has long maintained bonds of friendship and of institutional and political cooperation with Portugal. When Bulgaria became a full member of the European Union these bonds became closer and provided greater space to the increase in the economic and entrepreneurial relationships between both countries.

Although the presence of Portuguese companies in the Bulgarian market is still limited, we are pleased to record that most of them were cases of success. The setting up of the Bulgaria-Portugal Chamber of Commerce, whose formal constitution we witnessed here today, will certainly provide a valuable boost in the development of entrepreneurial relations between our two countries.

In spite of the excellent political and friendly relations that link our two nations, we are conscious that, in economic terms, we are clearly below par in our expectations. An analysis of the makeup of our trade relations will surely indicate there is still much potential to be exploited.

Should we undertake a process of mutual discovery we will easily ascertain, I am certain, that we can take advantage of our complementarities and of our common presence in this enormous area of free circulation of goods, services and capitals which is the European single market.

It is important, in this perspective, to closely liaise the wishes of the economic, political and cultural agents. It is above all important to provide conditions to better disseminate the opportunities of bilateral cooperation, to establish communication and to enable business to be materialized.

Thus, the relevance of this Forum and the Entrepreneurial Meetings which will follow, may assume the intensifying of the economic and entrepreneurial links between our two countries.

Now, when providing close and direct contact between Portuguese and Bulgarian entrepreneurs and highly placed officials, those will contribute towards a better knowledge of what is currently carried out in Bulgaria and in Portugal and to detect opportunities and new meanss for bilateral cooperation.

As neighbouring countries in their status as community partners, but equally as swiftly changing economies, holders of evident complementarities and occupying opposing geographical borders within the European Union, we can also develop strategic partnerships both multilaterally and in third countries.

Portugal has excellent relations with North African countries and anyway still maintains ancestral links with the African Continent, where countries such as Angola and Mozambique speak Portuguese and preserve strong political, economic and cultural bonds with our Country. In South America, our friendly connections with Brazil are very relevant and we enjoy smooth relations with the Pacific Alliance countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Portugal, who adhered in the eighties to a Community of ten Member States and was one of the founders of the euro, is well aware of the macroeconomic and structural challenges of European integration and of the intrinsic difficulties in adjusting to its rules and procedures.

The international economic and financial crisis exposed the weaknesses and imbalances that had accumulated in the Portuguese economy, and whose correction could not be deferred. In the last four years Portugal went through a demanding adjustment process and commenced an in-depth programme of structural reforms, in order to correct its macroeconomic imbalances, improve business competitiveness and create a propitious climate for investment. And the results speak for themselves.

Projections for the Portuguese economy in the 2015-2017 horizons indicate a gradual but consistent recovery in economic activity. GDP grew approximately 1 per cent in 2014, and estimates point to a 1.7 per cent increase in 2015, and to growths in excess of 2 per cent in the following years.

The recovery in economic activity was basically due to growth in exports, contributing to the improvement in the balance of foreign transactions, which went from a deficit of approximately 10 per cent of GDP, to a surplus of 2 per cent of GDP in 2014.

This development also reflects the efforts expended in research, innovation, professional requalification, reallocation of resources to production sectors of negotiable goods, and in the recovery of both investor and consumer trust.

Budgetary deficit is under control, unemployment, although still high, has been consistently lowering and investment has shown some growth, situations confirmed by the macroeconomic data relative to the first quarter of 2015, with exports of goods and services growing by 6.8 per cent.

Summarily, with reference to ongoing structural reforms, the Government gave priority to:
• Flexibility in labour legislation and in incentives to qualified training and job creation;
• Abridgement and efficiency in the areas of justice linked to the economy and to companies;
• And to incentives for the improvement of entrepreneurial innovation and competitiveness, including a phased reduction in company tax to 25 per cent in 2013, 19 per cent in 2016 and 17 per cent in the following years.

Portuguese productive activity is swiftly changing, which is readily visible in the structure of exports, which increasingly diverges from the low technological standard which had for long been their characteristic feature.

The truth is that a new generation of companies and entrepreneurs has surged, many of them with a global calling, in areas of high scientific and technological content: software applications, information technology, robotics, biotechnologies, renewable energies, electronics, automobile and aircraft industry, etc.
Several of these companies comprise the entrepreneurial retinue which accompanied me on this State Visit to Bulgaria. We have amongst us companies representing some of the most dynamic sectors of the Portuguese economy, with an entrepreneurial vision growingly guided towards innovation and internationalization. Companies whose capabilities, knowledge and international experience place them in an excellent position to meet the investment and cooperation requirements associated to the current stage of development of the Bulgarian economy.

These are companies which well typify today’s Portugal, a modern and welcoming country, with a vast cultural heritage and excellent infrastructure. An open economy favouring investment and new technologies and which presents many centres of technological and scientific excellence and entrepreneurial creativity.

I believe that Portugal and Portuguese companies have much to offer Bulgaria. And that Bulgaria surely has much to offer Portugal. They jointly can, and must, undertake much more than what has until now been achieved.

I end my address with this conviction. But not without transmitting a founded expectation that the work to be carried out in this Forum will provide a determining contribution to enable companies, on site, materially and with mutual benefit, identify competences and explore opportunities.

Thank you very much.

Blagodariá.

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