Thursday, September 2, 2010

Portugal Turns to Former Colony for Growth



LISBON — António Cunha Vaz, along with his mother and sister, was part of a mass exodus of Portuguese from Angola in 1975, when it gained independence before descending into a devastating civil war.

Underlining Angola’s growing importance, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the Portuguese president, is expected to make his first trip to the capital of Angola on Sunday at the helm of a delegation of about 80 Portuguese executives.

But in 2008, Mr. Cunha Vaz opened an office of his Lisbon-based public relations consultancy in Luanda, the capital of Angola, and last year, the company derived 37 percent of its 22 million euros ($28 million) in revenue from Angola.

Portugal, one of Europe’s ailing economies, is increasingly placing its hopes of recovery on Angola, a former colony that has established itself as one of the strongest economies in sub-Saharan Africa — thanks largely to oil and diamonds. The shift comes as competition is getting stiffer in Brazil, another booming former colony, and as Portugal’s traditional European trading partners, led by Spain, struggle under a mountain of debt and soaring joblessness.

Angola has already become Portugal’s largest export market outside of Europe, accounting for 7 percent of Portuguese exports last year, compared with 1 percent in 2000, according to the Portuguese statistics institute and Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency. Machinery and industrial equipment lead the list, along with food, beverages and metals.

Perhaps even more spectacular than the trade flow has been the arrival of a new generation of Portuguese working in Angola, a trend that is expected to gather pace as more Portuguese companies shift operations there and Angola moves ahead with investment-friendly plans like the opening of a local stock exchange. Last year, 23,787 Portuguese moved to Angola, compared with only 156 in 2006, the Portuguese immigration observatory said.

Continue the story HERE at the New York Times.




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