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Last updated : Nov 2009
Portugal Business
Portugal Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com

Portugal was traditionally an agrarian economy but since joining the European Union in 1986, the industrial and especially the service sectors of the economy have grown considerably by comparison.

Agriculture still employs 12 per cent of the workforce and unusually high by Western European standards which contributes 3 per cent of GDP, producing wheat, maize, tomatoes, potatoes and grapes. Production has undergone a relative decline so that Portugal now imports a sizeable proportion of its foodstuffs. The manufacturing sector is dominated by the textile and footwear industries and automobiles, which now account for 15 per cent of total exports. Other important products are paper, cork and other wood products, electrical appliances, ceramics and chemicals. Both foreign and internal investment have been high, attracted by Portugal’s relatively low labour costs and the recent modernisation of much of the country’s infrastructure. Former state-owned industries have been sold off under a gradual privatisation programme which began during 1989. Unemployment has hovered around 5 per cent while inflation has not risen above 4 per cent in the last five years, the current figures are 4.4 and 4.1 per cent respectively.

Portugal joined the Eurozone upon its inauguration in 1999. Unfortunately since then, the economy has stagnated and growth fell to below 1 per cent in 2001/2, before contracting by 1 per cent in 2003. The main reasons have been a reduction in domestic demand and government spending cuts – demanded under the terms of Eurozone membership – to tackle the country’s large budget deficit.

Britain has historically been Portugal’s main trading partner but the growth of Anglo-Portuguese trade has failed to keep pace with that of Portugal’s other trading partners, particularly Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The Portugal Investment Agency can supply further information.

Business Etiquette

Businesspeople are expected to dress smartly and formal attire is expected in some dining rooms and for important social events. English is widely spoken in business circles, although when visiting a small business it is best to check in advance. Visiting cards are generally only exchanged by more senior members of a company. July and August are best avoided.

Office hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1300 hrs and 1500-1900 hrs.

Commercial Information

The following organisations can offer advice:

Associação Comercial de Lisboa, Câmara de Comércio e Indústria Portuguesa,
Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 89
1169-022 Lisbon
Telephone number: 2132 24050
Fax number: 2132 24051
e-mail: geral@port-chambers.com
website: www.port-chambers.com

Confederação do Comércio e Serviços de Portugal (CCP)
Avenida Dom Vasco de Gama 29
1449-032 Lisbon
Telephone number: 2130 31380
Fax number: 2130 31400-1
e-mail: ccp@ccp.pt
website: www.ccp.pt


Lisbon is the main centre for conventions, with venues that can seat up to 1500 people. The Lisbon Convention Centre was founded in 1987, and a major Congress centre, fully integrated with the facilities offered by the Lisbon International Fair, opened in 1989. The fair is a department of the Portuguese Industrial Association, which promotes trade fairs, exhibitions and meetings.

After the EXPO ’98 in Lisbon, the North International Area became the new Lisbon Exhibition Centre, with an area of 80,000 sq m (743,200 sq ft), also run by the Portuguese Industrial Association.

The Lisbon International Fair will now be the major congress centre in Lisbon, with a capacity for events of up to 3000 delegates. The Lisbon Convention Bureau is a non-profit-making association of companies providing support services to conference organisers. Its services directory includes details of the Congress Centre and hotels with conference facilities.

For information, contact:

The Lisbon Convention Bureau
Rua do Arsenal 15
1100-038 Lisbon

Telephone number: 2103 12700
Fax number: 2103 12899

Lisbon opened the Belem Cultural Centre in 1992 to coincide with Portugal’s EU Presidency, it features high-quality technical equipment and facilities for meetings of up to 1400 delegates.

For further information, contact

The Belem Cultural Centre
Praça do Império
1499-003 Lisbon

Telephone number: 2136 12400
Fax number: 2136 12500
e-mail: ccb@ccb.pt
website: www.ccb.pt

Additionally, the former site of the EXPO ’98 ‘Utopia Pavillion’ has been converted into the multi-purpose Atlantic Pavillion, which can accommodate up to 16,500 seated spectators.

The city of Oporto also has 2 major international exhibition and congress centres. The Oporto International Exhibition Centre (Exponor) has a total area of 29,500 sq m (274,000 sq ft) with a congress centre that has a capacity for 1000 delegates.

The International Congress and Exhibition Centre (Europarque) has a large and flexible exhibition hall that can host receptions for up to 12,000 delegates on a floor space of 7200 sq m (66,890 sq ft).

For further information, contact:

The Porto Convention Bureau
Av Inferior a Ponte D. Luis 1
53, 1 4050 Porto

Telephone number: 2233 26751
Fax number: 2233 26752
e-mail: portocvb@portocvb.com.