Portugal

PT flagThis guide is aimed at those who are considering a visit to Portugal in order to procure products and conduct business. The guide is by no means comprehensive and whilst the information detailed in this report is correct at the time of writing, we cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies or discrepancies. 

Portugal’s economic history is rich with success; historically they were a major force in the economic trade and were able to create strong trade links with a number of continents. In addition to this, Portugal’s inclusion of the European Community in 1986 and adoption of the Euro in 1999 boosted their economic fortunes, particularly in the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, the economic crisis of 2008 largely affected Portugal and in turn forced them to ask international lenders to assist them in re-building their economy. This crisis continues to have some impact on the state of Portugal; however it is certainly not all doom and gloom. Portugal hosts some of the leading companies trading worldwide in paper (Grupo Portucel Soporcel), wood-based panels (Sonae Indústria), cork (Corticeira Amorim) and canned fish (Conservas Ramirez) and they continue to export other goods including textiles, clothing and electrical equipment. In addition to this the country is becoming increasingly successful in exporting footwear in response to the demand created by both Kate and Pippa Middleton wearing them for the Royal wedding in 2011. In fact Helsar, a leading Portuguese footwear specialist, has lifted export sales from 9% to 70%.

Portugal’s diverse culture is the result of a complex history inclusive of a range of different civilizations. As both a traditional and conservative country they continue to celebrate their wide range of heritage to this day. During the summer in Portugal, Pagan festivities known as Santos Populares take place to commemorate the three saints Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. The Portuguese also attend Carnival, a tradition that dates back many centuries. Due to their rich history, Portugal is also home to several ancient and aesthetic architectural structures as well as furniture, art and literary collections. Portugal holds a great deal of pride for their diverse history, and they boast a great number of cultural landmarks, museums, church buildings and medieval castles. The country’s rich, traditional history of folklore has inspired Portugal in its creative output. In fact, the Portuguese place a high value of importance on art, music, soccer, drama, dance and literature; in 2001 Porto was name the European Capital of Culture and in 2004 Portugal hosted the European football finals in purpose-built stadiums.

Portugal is one of the countries that partake in the Schengen Agreement of 1995. This means that if your country of residence is a member of the Schengen Acquis (or the EU) then you are permitted to stay in Portugal for up to 90 days. If you are a non-EU resident, then you will need to apply for a Schengen Visa which will then allow you to visit Portugal for up to 90 days.

Portugal hold family values close to their heart and so it is important to be aware of this when conducting business there; especially when it comes to scheduling meetings – ensure that they do not conflict with important family holidays. The Portuguese build their strongest business relationships based on a strong level of personal trust with people so allow yourself to create a close and familiar relationship with them to ensure effective integration. Additionally, in the Portuguese world of business, a great deal of emphasis is placed on status and ‘looking good’ – your counterparts will be interested in what label of clothing you are wearing, which hotel you have booked and whether or not you have hired a luxury car. It is safe to say that your presentation will have a knock-on effect on how you are perceived by Portuguese business colleagues. Portugal continue to host the traditional idea of a strict hierarchical ‘top-down’ approach to decision making and management; employees are expected ‘to do as they are told’. Treating your business partners with warmth and respect is imperative in creating bonds with Portugal.

Official Season Clarification:

Portugal shares its seasons with us in the UK; however, the climate is a great deal warmer. In the Algarve, for example, summer temperatures can reach 30°C whilst further north in the Alentejo anticipate temperatures of over 45°C.

During the winter months (November and December) expect a great deal of rain to cover the North of Portugal – the south will be affected lightly by rain during this time. Both Autumn and Spring are mild to warm.

Key facts:

  • Capital: Lisbon
  • Population: 10.7 million
  • Area: 92,345 sq km
  • Currency: Euro
  • International dialling code: (+) 351
  • Official language: Portugese
  • Main Exports: agricultural products, food products, oil products, chemical products, plastics and rubber, skins and leather, wood and cork, wood pulp and paper, textile materials, clothing, footwear, minerals and mineral products, base metals, machinery and tools, vehicles and other transport material, optical and precision instruments
  • Ports: Caminha, Viana do Castelo, Povoa de Varzim, Vila do Conde, Leixoes, Oporto, Aveiro, Figueira do Foz, Nazare, Sao Martinho do Porto, Berlenga Island, Peniche, Cascais, Lisbon, Seixal, Sesimbra, Setubal, Sines, Baleeira, Lagos, Alvor, Portimao, Vilamoura, Culatra Island, Olhao, Tavira and Vila Real de Sao Antoni.
  • Time Difference: None.

Top Tips:

  • When attending a business meeting, be aware that while it is important for you to arrive on time, your Portuguese business associates may not arrive promptly – be prepared to wait for the host to arrive up to 30 minutes late.
  • Wearing a high-end label of clothing or renting a luxury car will impress your Portuguese counterparts. The Portuguese place a real importance on status.
  • Be aware of how physical you are with your body gestures, the Portuguese tend not to be overly demonstrative themselves. It is also important not to point with your finger, instead use a ‘pat on the head’ motion to summon somebody.
  • Dress yourself in a long-sleeved shirt or blouse as Portuguese business people do not wear short sleeves. Additionally, if you feel a little hot, it is polite to wait for your host to remove their jacket before you do.
  • Do not worry if your Portuguese counterparts fail to follow through with a promise, they have a far more relaxed approach to deadlines than other cultures.
  • The Portuguese place emphasis on well thought out detail – prepare for this by spending a great deal of time preparing a detailed presentation backed up with figures and charts.
  • Hire an interpreter for business meetings when possible.
  • When dining with your business colleagues, avoid discussing business. Dinners are social events, in which it is custom to discuss family, soccer and food for example.

Important Note: The information detailed within the contents of this website is to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. We reserve the right to amend any information where we see fit.

This website may include links to third party sites and sources with which we have no involvement in regards the content.

Portugal

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