(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Buoyed by a big surge in exports to Dubai, Portugal said on Thursday that it expects to significantly boost its trade with the GCC after the conclusion of a long-awaited free-trade agreement between the European Union and the GCC.
Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs Paulo Sacadura Cabral Portas, addressing a seminar in Dubai, said his country's export driven economy would also be looking forward to the implementation of double taxation avoidance treaty with its GCC trading partners.
The total value of trade between Portugal and the UAE in 2011 totalled over Dh700 million and is expected to double in the 24-month period ending March 2013.
The Portuguese minister called upon Dubai businesses to invest in his country, which he said enjoys 500-year old connection with the Emirates.
He said both the countries seek to build a stronger bilateral relationship.
Addressing a seminar jointly organised by Dubai Chamber and Portugal Trade & Investment Agency, or AICEP, at the Chamber premises on Thursday, Portas cited his country's three-point bilateral legal framework, including the convention to avoid double taxation, the bilateral agreement to promote and protect investments and the agreement on economic cooperation.
The Portuguese delegation at the seminar included around 50 business heads and company officials representing a diversity of sectors including agro-foods, finance, energy, pharmaceutical, textile, tourism, industry and telecommunications.
Portas also highlighted his country's strategic location as a door to Europe and a platform for Africa, Americas and the Middle East, high quality logistics, road airport and seaport infrastructures, government's commitment to businesses as well as the "Golden Residence Permit Programme" with full access to European countries in the Schengen area for non-EU investors.
"Portugal is fostering an export driven economy as our exports to the UAE grew by 11 per cent and we are looking forward to a substantial rise after the conclusion of the free-trade agreement between the European Union and the GCC as well as the implementation of avoidance of double taxation between our GCC trading partners," said Portas.
Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber, said the arrival of this large Portuguese business delegation would open up new channels of cooperation for the two sides while leading to consolidation of bilateral trade ties between their respective countries' investors.
Al Ghurair assured the delegation of Dubai Chamber's commitment to provide all the support and facilities to the development of Portuguese businesses in the emirate, which he said has witnessed strong growth throughout the year. He urged the visiting business leaders to benefit from the flourishing economic sectors such as trade, tourism, logistics, financial and related services.
Al Ghurair said Dubai Chamber members' exports and re-exports in the first 11 months of the year reached a record high of Dh244 billion, a growth of 8.5 per cent year-on-year. He said Dubai served different markets of the world including BRIC countries, the GCC, Asia and Africa and can help Portuguese businesses expand their trade activities to these regions.
"At present, there are 28 Portuguese companies among Dubai Chamber's membership and we would like to see this increase and I would also like to call upon the Portuguese business community to increase their presence in the emirate," said Al Ghurair.
He said that although Emirates airline flies daily to Lisbon, addition of further destinations would help drive growth in trade and tourism and bring the two business communities closer together.
The Dubai Chamber chief invited Portuguese companies to participate in Dubai's over 200 major international exhibitions held annually. "Participation in these events would help Portuguese businesses get closer to the opportunities in these markets, using Dubai as a base. And the city, with its excellent infrastructure and modern facilities, is the ideal gateway to new business opportunities," he added.
On the sidelines of the seminar, Urbanos Group, the majority shareholder of Groundforce Portugal, signed an agreement with Shuaa Capital appointing them as the Middle East Financial Advisor for the Portuguese company. Shaikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum, Executive Chairman of Shuaa Capital, and Alfredo Caimiro, owner of Urbanos and Chairman of Groundforce Portugal, signed the agreement.