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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW AMBASSADOR OF PORTUGAL

In 1947, Portugal was one of the first European countries to recognize Pakistan &even to open an Embassy in Karachi.Mr. Joao Paulo Sabida Costas

Interview by : Syed Safeer Hussain Shah

His Excellency Mr. Joao Paulo Sabida Costas,Ambassador, Embassy of Portugal  in Islamabad syas Portugal and Pakistan have an old relation, inherited from History. After 1947, Portugal was one of the first European countries to recognize Pakistan and even to open an Embassy in Karachi. Our relations have always been peaceful and without incidents. Therefore, I see all the conditions gathered to explore ways of cooperation in mutual benefit for both countries. In this moment, there are many. Pakistan is a vast market, with a large demand of goods. It appears to be looking forward to achieve new technologies and know how in order to add more value to its products, increasing their competitiveness in the international market. Portugal has been developing that kind of technology, namely in the areas of textiles, Agriculture, marble production and other industrial areas. And the renewable energies area is especially relevant in this context. I see there a great potential for the establishment of partnerships between companies from both sides. Portugal is an attractive country for investment, exporting and re-exporting. It is a country of the European Union with strong economic links to Africa and South America, namely to the Portuguese Speaking Countries. Among several others, the European Union negotiated a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada, opening the way to a closer relation between their two economies. Also regarding the European Union, Pakistan benefits from the Generalized Scheme of Preferences plus (GSP+) that very much facilitates to export its products to the EU market. As well, Portugal offers a special scheme for investors up to a certain amount, allowing them to get the resident permit and even the nationality.For this purpose, we should develop more dialogue between companies from the two countries, public entities and our Governments. It is a very important field, for Pakistan, but also for Portugal. I deem there are many ways through which Portugal can cooperate with Pakistan in this framework, but we need to identify them more thoroughly in order to guaranty the success of the process. As I mentioned above, there are different areas that have already been indentified: textiles, agriculture, marble, moulds, footwear, renewable energies and others.I think that if we foment the dialogue and contacts between businessmen the trade will be fostered almost automatically. The contacts can also be stimulated, for example, whether trough the Pakistan Portugal Business Council of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Pakistan or the more recently crated, in Portugal, Portugal Pakistan Business Forum, involving businessman and entrepreneurs from both countries.  I’m happy with the perspectives but not yet with the results. Although there was a significant increase in trade  in favour of Portugal  during this year, I reckon there is still very much to do and to achieve. Between two friendly and cooperative countries the scope for cooperation never finishes.The objectives of our Government are to promote the Economy of the country, at the same time as keeping the budget balanced and assuring the social rights of the population. Let’s hope that all these aims come through and we may have a pleasant and successful year.There are many changes of cooperation in the technological fields. We should promote more exchanges between universities and centers of research, namely in areas like the environmental or in the communication sector, maritime sciences, etc. For the moment, I can’t identify many Portuguese companies active in Pakistan. Normally they show up in statistic in the framework of Southern Asia. In fact, increasing that number becomes a challenge, both for Pakistan as for Portugal.There is  I think there always has been some kind of defense cooperation. But now I see a great interest in increasing its scope, namely in the areas of arms and military production procurement. As you know, we have a new Government since 2015. Our economy is looking forward to leave behind all the liabilities of the world financial crisis and keep on progressing in order to increase the well being of the population (both national and foreigners), as well as to promote cooperation and solidarity links with different regions of the Earth. I think they are overcoming the difficulties of the financial crisis. Even the «bad news» can show a process of streamlining and selection in the sector. During the crisis, Portugal was also benefited by the fact of having its own baking sector, not so much dependent from foreign banks. Therefore, we were less affected for the crisis deeply affecting other countries, even of the European Union.  Portugal is a country with many years of independence, recognized by the Holy See in the XIIth century. Due to our geographical location, we travelled across the Globe and established contacts with many different regions and countries, namely in Asia. We have a very strong European policy, but also a transatlantic one, as well as regarding the Portuguese countries in South America, Asia, and Africa. Due to the cultural link with different parts of the World, inherited from History, we have some easiness to find ways of cooperation with other countries and regions. Practically, Portugal has a good relation with all the countries on Earth and look forward to deepen its cooperation with several regions of the world. The recent election of the Portuguese António Guterres as Secretary General of the United Nations is also a sign of this. Our defense policy is mainly based on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-NATO, of which Portugal is a founder Member. Nowadays, NATO not only envisages the protection of Europe (and North America) against outside threats, but is also a instrument of cooperation, development and promotion of Peace and stability in the World. Our Armed and Police Forces also participate in Peacekeeping operations in the framework of NATO, the United Nations or the European Union. Portugal is a peaceful country but it is ready and prepared to assume its own defense, the one of its allies and cause of international peace.  All the countries are happy and wishing to be even more prosperous. I think that is very important for a country to be aware of its own identity, History and Culture; as well as of the importance of having a good and peaceful relation with the international society as a whole. Pakistan is a great country, with a marvelous people and showing a lot of potential in the international context. The Pakistanis should be very proud of their country and promote it abroad. In my opinion, the world would benefit from discovering Pakistani’s Culture, Music, Traditions and beautiful Landscape.

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