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.
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.
The following organisations can offer advice:
Comercial de Lisboa, Câmara de Comércio e Indústria
Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 89
Telephone number: 2132 24050
Fax number: 2132 24051
Confederação do Comércio
e Serviços de Portugal (CCP)
Avenida Dom Vasco de Gama 29
Telephone number: 2130 31380
Fax number: 2130 31400-1
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
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
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:
Rua do Arsenal 15
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
Praça do Império
Telephone number: 2136 12400
Fax number: 2136 12500
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
Av Inferior a Ponte D. Luis 1
53, 1 4050 Porto
Telephone number: 2233 26751
Fax number: 2233 26752