Latin America was the destination of about 3% of Portugal's exports this year but could receive more, according to Portuguese specialists, who believe that the region has the potential to represent 5% of the country's total sales.
The message is from the Institute for the Promotion and Development of Latin America (IPDAL) Luso, which has just delivered to the Portuguese Government a report made from a "focus group" with specialists with strategies to achieve this goal.
Companies such as the oil company Galp or the insurer Cosec, former governors such as former Economy Minister Augusto Mateus or different industry associations and chambers of commerce participated in the debate and agree: with the right measures, Portuguese exports can conquer Latin America.
The data of the last year are encouraging: only between 2016 and 2017, sales to all Latin American countries soared 33%, reaching 1,700 million euros.
"Companies have the capacity to react quickly and identify new markets to increase their exports," the secretary general of IPDAL, Filipe Domingues, told Efe, who considered that the deadline to reach the 5% goal "depends a lot on the interest and will of the entrepreneurs themselves. "
This goal will allow to advance in the diversification of Portuguese exports, very concentrated in the European Union, which receives about 80% of sales.
In Latin America, slightly more than half of the sales are directed to Brazil, a former colony with which Portugal continues to maintain close emotional and cultural ties.
Therefore, Brazil will continue to be its ally in the region "whatever happens at the economic or political level," defended Domingues, which targets countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru as markets with opportunities for Portuguese companies.
The commitment to Mexico has already taken off and concentrates almost 17% of the Portuguese exports to Latin America, after growing more than 40% in four years, in addition to the consolidated presence in Aztec soil of leading companies in its sectors such as the construction company Mota- Engil or the EDP energy group.
In addition, due to the business fabric of Portugal, formed by 99.9% of SMEs, smaller countries such as Cuba, Paraguay, Uruguay and Panama have a "more appropriate" dimension for certain Portuguese companies, products and services.
According to the IPDAL, recent case studies argue that Portugal should bet on "traditional" products that incorporate added value, such as clothing, agri-food, civil construction or furniture.
The key, they say, is to think about the market and then decide what to produce according to their needs, for which it is necessary to carry out an in-depth analysis of the scenario of each country from sources such as chambers of commerce, associations and embassies abroad. .
But also exploit other resources that Portugal manages as the communities of Portuguese in the region, who know the consumption habits and specificities of the markets, and the universities and research centers that have been exchanging for decades and collaborating with their Latin American colleagues.
"They are essential to be able to have competitive advantages and access to knowledge that many of our competitors do not have, it is a way to differentiate ourselves from them, especially the United States and China," defended the Secretary General of IPDAL.
The competition between the United States and China is one of the obstacles faced by Latin American companies in Latin America, in addition to the lack of an agreement between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur, a "priority" shared by both countries. Spain as Portugal.
"The Latin American countries have in Portugal and Spain their most valid, relevant and trusted interlocutor in all that is multilateral discussions with the EU," recalled Domingues.