I am winding up today, here in Vale de Cambra, the 8th campaign of the Route to a Dynamic Economy, an initiative which, throughout almost two years, has enabled me to closely contact a very large number of sectors contributing towards the Portuguese economy.
My intent, with this Route, the longest of my mandates, was to provide visibility to examples of the undeniable entrepreneurial success, many of which, I believe, unknown to the majority of the Portuguese. Companies which are essentially exporters, endowed with great dynamism, ambition and capability to innovate and compete.
In difficult times, the approximately three dozen companies which I visited contributed, with ingenuity and effort, to strengthen the exporting profile of the Portuguese economy. Refusing sterile plaints, Portuguese entrepreneurs were capable to find new ways to assert themselves in demanding markets, embodying one of the most notable refits in the Portuguese economy in the latter years.
I was able to ascertain, along these eight campaigns, how the Portuguese manufacturing industry, erstwhile condemned by many to oblivion – if not for total disappearance – went through a complete turnover. Far from casting off its more traditional sectors of activity, such as footwear, textiles and clothing, furniture and ornamental stoneware, whose modernization and adaptation to new market realities is undeniable, Portuguese industry was reborn and is traversing a moment of intense renewal.
Previously considered as low wage, low technology and reduced added value activities, these industries are nowadays the showcase of qualified human capital and sources of technological innovation, investing in superior quality and in the diversity of its goods and services.
Thanks to a disciplined apprenticeship and to focusing market niches, many of these companies have achieved levels of specialization that enable them to compete with multinational giants.
I visited, throughout this Route, companies which are successful players in global niches, such as abrasives for automobile repainting; accessories for two wheeled vehicles, specialized pharmaceutical products, engineering for industrial automation and cutting machine tools. In all these areas it is the Portuguese technicians, the Portuguese engineers, the Portuguese managers that daily make it possible to compete at the highest level with the more demanding markets.
Innovation and quality are, for these companies, a daily habit, present in all their business features. The preparation and the integration of people in the working environment are thus essential components, and equally professional training, a theme to which I have dedicated a stage in this Route, which is a constant priority.
As I had the opportunity to ascertain, neither the overheads inherent to an ultra-peripheral zone such as Madeira have inhibited the setting up of key businesses in SME management software, high quality bread making products, wines which are valued worldwide or aquaculture of relished species.
The family roots of many of these companies enabled the setting up of a particularly conformable relationship between owners and employees, a cooperation which results in mutual benefits in the fair and in the more difficult times.
If true that the successful companies I visited are representative of important economic and social progress, it is also true that there is still an insufficient number of them considering what our current production fabric requires to generate sturdy and sustainable growth.
It is the politicians’ responsibility to create conditions of stability and trust in order that competent entrepreneurs may take investment decisions and place stakes in new enterprises, thus creating more employment and greater wealth.
It is necessary to continue backing the exporting, innovating and competitive SMEs, as well as the companies that are no further considered as SMEs due to their growth cycle, but continue being more than ever exporters, innovators and competitive, notwithstanding the facing of many obstacles in their activities.
As a minimum, it is indispensable not to hamper what in itself is a heroic task, as I have previously stated, with regard to the work of this country’s entrepreneurs and of their contribution to the economic recovery visible in latter years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This last campaign was dedicated here, in Aveiro district, to Ceramics, Metallurgy and Metalworking, two industries greatly exposed to competition and also responsible for a very relevant contribution towards our industry’s added value, towards exports, towards growth and employment.
The majority of companies in these sectors traversed extreme difficulties in the last decades. Many of them were unable to survive global competition and technological acceleration. But many others, thanks to the resourcefulness, tenacity and determination of their entrepreneurs and employees, have been capable to reinvent themselves, to invest in new ideas, to overcome difficulties and to maintain or even increase employment levels.
Without these companies and their contribution, unemployment would be a still greater issue, the development of many of the country’s regions would be placed in question and the country would certainly be poorer and less cohesive. In spite of their global presence, they persist in maintaining their management centres in the locations where they started out and which they developed, creating local quality employment, sharing the results of success with their employees and paying taxes in their own Country.
In this closing ceremony of the Route to a Dynamic Economy, I consider it fair and opportune to recognize the exceptional efforts of these entrepreneurs.
It was thanks to them that Portugal was able to recover from a situation of great weakness and to open new perspectives and possibilities for the future. They are the symbol of one of the most powerful forces of change in society and of the creation of wellbeing, in addition to the contribution they have brought to the development of the Portuguese economy and to the Country’s international prominence.
Dynamism means energy and movement, renewal and vitality. And this is exactly the feature of those that do not conform with their circumstances, of those that, although assuming risks, endeavour to take advantage of the opportunities which they come across with. It was this spirit that I encountered in all the entrepreneurs I met throughout this Route.
I thus took the decision to distinguish, on this day, the individualities who stood out due their own merit, and who embody the trait of a dynamic economy. Through them I render tribute to all Portuguese entrepreneurs.
© 2006-2016 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic
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