(MENAFN - Arab News) Portugal seeks to expand trade and investment ties with the Kingdom, the new ambassador said here recently.
Manuel Carvalho visited Arab News office in Riyadh to gain more insight into issues in Saudi Arabia and to promote his country's businesses.
A high-profile 53-member business delegation led by Portugal's Minister of Health Paulo Moita de Maceda visited Saudi Arabia in April this year and signed several health and economic agreements. During the visit, the minister said Portugal's exports to the Kingdom increased 43 percent.
Carvalho said there are several Arabic terms used in the Portuguese language including "qamees" or shirt. He said Portuguese is the fifth most spoken language in the world and the number one language in the southern hemisphere. There are 250 million Portuguese speakers around the world, he said.
He said Portugal is a member of the European Union with few tariff barriers and allows the free movement of labor and capital. He said the country recently moved out of recession and its gross domestic product now stands at 1.1 percent.
It has competitive operational costs in the European context, high quality logistics, road, airport and seaport infrastructure, and an excellent telecommunications network. He said office and industrial space is widely available across the country.
He said Portugal also ranks highly in terms of European standards for the availability and sophistication of public services in Europe. Ninety percent of its services and companies are online, he said.
Quoting statistics from the World Economic Forum, he said Portugal is ranked the 25th top tourism destination in the world and has 20th position in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.
The country received 14 million guests in 2012 from various countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, the United States and Saudi Arabia.
On visa issues, the country recently approved a residence permit program in Portugal, with full access to European countries in the Schengen area, for non-EU citizens who invest in the Portuguese financial and real estate market, and those who create jobs with industrial activity.
Despite Europe's recession, Portugal's exports grew by 5.8 percent last year, and by 19.8 percent to non-EU countries. "The numbers are impressive and clearly show what we have done in the last two years," he said.