The relationship between Macao and Portuguese Speaking Countries
Macao has long played a unique role as a trade and economic co-operation service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs). Due to historical ties, Macao has been closely connected in trade and economy with PSCs of a population of 260 million. The Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries has been organised in Macao four times since 2003 with the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum being based in the city.
The fourth Ministerial Conference of the Forum was held in November 2013 and was attended by senior leading officials from China and seven Portuguese-speaking countries. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang revealed at the Conference that Chinese Central Government supports Macao in building three strategic centres, namely: a centre of commercial services for the Lusophone SMEs, a convention and exhibition centre, as well as a centre for the distribution of food products. Meanwhile, Premier Wang Yang announced eight measures for further supporting the development of PSCs, the measures covering provision of concessional loans, education and training, production and construction, medical hygiene, sharing of information and environmental protection. Moreover, A new “Action Plan for Economic and Commercial Co-operation between 2014 and 2016” was signed, which strives to reach the goals of achieving USD160 billion in bilateral trade between China and Lusophone countries by 2016, to further enriching co-operation content and enhancing bilateral collaboration and development.
On the other hand, the China and Portuguese-speaking Countries Co-operation and Development Fund jointly initiated by China Development Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Development Fund of Macao, with the initial capital stands at USD125 million, was officially inaugurated in June 2013, while the agreement for the first co-operation project was also signed in November 2013.
In recent years, trade and economic co-operation between China and PSCs have been growing rapidly. Bilateral trade in 2012 was USD5.6 billion, while that in 2012 stood at about USD130 billion, showing an annual growth of around 37%. In 2013, total bilateral trade volume reached USD131.4 billion, up by 2.31%. Imports from PSCs was USD87.4 billion, up by 0.04%, exports to PSCs was USD44 billion, showing a year-on-year increase of 7.14%.
Macao uses Portuguese as one of its official languages and has a legal system similar to those of PSCs, along with the long-established ties providing easier access for PSCs wishing to tap into Macao’s markets.
Macao can serve as a stepping stone for PSCs’ products and services (particularly those from SMEs in PSCs) to enter the Mainland market, enabling PSC enterprises to be better prepared for marketing and product design operations, or explore the Mainland market in co-operation with Pan-PRD enterprises through franchising.
Various Macao financial institutions and enterprises have established networks in PSCs. Enterprises from PSCs have also set up factories in the city to market their products to the Mainland by enjoying the preferential treatment under Macao and Mainland Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).
It is worth mentioning that major trade and economic events held in Macao such as the Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF), have allowed Mainland and PSC business visitors in Macao to explore potential business opportunities. With the setting up of the PSC Pavilion, it assists PSC entrepreneurs to make the best use of the Macao service platform in exploring trade and investment co-operation.