Portugal rounds off series of over one hundred trade missions

‘The recent trade mission to Portugal has already borne its first fruit,’ said development and foreign trade minister Lilianne Ploumen, following a three-day trip to Lisbon and the surrounding area. The mission was primarily focused on scoping out opportunities for the Dutch aviation and energy sectors. The first contracts were signed this week.

The Dutch business community was well represented, with a total of 35 participants: 24 from aviation, nine energy companies and two knowledge institutions. ‘Portugal is an important trading partner for us, and we share a long maritime history,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘The two countries’ public sectors, private sectors and knowledge institutions can learn a lot from one another about sustainable energy and the newest aviation insights.’
The minister and business representatives visited a range of locations, including Lisbon Airport, which wants to expand to a second base near the city. Members of the Dutch business community identified clear opportunities here. Ms Ploumen also visited aerospace company OGMA and discussed economic cooperation with the Portuguese infrastructure minister.

The trade mission ran parallel to the three-day state visit by Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, and was the 108th trade mission undertaken by members of the second Rutte government. No other government has organised so many trade missions. ‘During all these missions, my colleagues and I have helped bring many contracts and agreements to fruition,’ the minister remarked. ‘The missions also have significant long-term value. In many countries, the initial focus is on establishing relationships, more so than in the Netherlands. The real deals often follow on later.’ Over the years, Ms Ploumen has seen the make-up of the delegations change. ‘First they primarily consisted of businesses, but now you often see delegates from trade unions, civil society organisations and knowledge institutions.’

Delegations have not just travelled to familiar trade partners like Germany, China and the US, but also  to countries like Uganda, Kenya and Liberia. ‘In Uganda, Dutch and Ugandan banks gave small famers access to loans,’ said the minister. ‘In Kenya, we looked at expanding the port in Mombasa in order to promote regional trade. And in Liberia we were quick to organise a trade mission after the Ebola crisis in order to help the country’s economy get back on track. Bit by bit over the past five years we’ve shown how to combine trade and aid.’