Since the pandemic broke out in Portugal, we’ve been successful. Seven new clients that the country didn’t have and who came to Portugal,” says the president of Aicep, thus illustrating the “good news” on the investment side.
“We didn’t feel any negative effect with the pandemic”, guarantees Luís Castro Henriques in a digital meeting with journalists, to anticipate the launch of the online export accelerator. At stake are companies in the service sector: two from the US and the rest from central Europe: Germany, France and Switzerland. “These are mainly companies that will establish software development centres in Portugal and they are companies that bring service centres to the country,” says Luís Castro Henriques without giving more information.
In Aicep the pandemic was not synonymous with stopping. “We never stopped,” guarantees the president of the agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment to Portugal, which reached a new peak in 2019. FDI stock at the end of last year reached a record 143.9 billion euros, according to data from the Bank of Portugal. Two of the fund-raisers were made exclusively “through digital tools”. “All visits were made with digital meetings to interact with peers, all online. It was a service that never stopped, nor ever had any problems, which is very interesting,” underlines Castro Henriques.
“To finish the industrial collections you have to visit the sites, have specific aspects of the land, etc, and that still has to wait a bit. We haven’t managed to do that yet”, he acknowledges. “But we continue to interact with all the clients who were in the pipeline”. The pipeline, that is, the investment intentions, “hasn’t been reduced, and in the case of services it has even increased,” Castro Henrique added, pointing out that it is still in the region of one billion euros.
Last year, Portugal once again managed to surpass the target of one billion euros in contracted investment. This involved 80 new projects, 75% of which were of foreign origin, more exactly from 15 different nationalities. And these fund-raisers are in full swing. “What had been raised last year, the projects are already underway and on the ground and some of these companies, even in this current scenario, are maintaining their recruitment plans,” says the president of Aicep.
Castro Henriques also assures that “the contracts that were being negotiated are all still under negotiation and some of them are already being concluded”. “Sooner or later we will need the proper signatures,” he concludes.