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Xi arrives in Portugal to boost trade ties

AFP  |  Lisbon 

Chinese arrived in on Tuesday for a two-day visit to boost economic ties, despite concern in some EU capitals over China's growing influence across the continent.

"Relations between and are entering their best period... We must develop existing projects and step up our commercial exchanges," Xi said at a meeting with counterpart Marcelo

His two-day stay will include the signing of cooperation agreements, one of which will bring the southwestern into what calls the "new Silk Road".

The initiative offers loans to build railways, roads, and ports across Asia, and

"is an important hub in the land and maritime silk routes," Xi said. De Sousa added Sines was "the symbol of a partnership which we want to continue to build."

Andre Verissimo, of the leading Jornal de Negocios, said: "If Portugal joins the initiative, it will become the first country in western to do so." Portugal, one of western Europe's poorest countries, opened to Chinese investment after being hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis.

Investment from accounted for 3.6 per cent of Portugal's GDP between 2010 and 2016, according to figures from Spain's ESADE business school.

But China's growing influence in Europe, welcomed by and some east European countries, is viewed warily by others on the continent.

At the initiative of and Germany, EU countries last week agreed on a framework regulating foreign investment, particularly from China.

Portuguese said did not back the idea and was relieved that the final accord provided for only an advisory role for the

"In Portugal, we are not anxious about the origin of foreign investment," Costa said, asking to eschew "the path of protectionism."


China now owns a 28 per cent stake in Portuguese EDP, the country's largest firm, via and China's state-owned international investment company

It also has a stake in Portugal's biggest private bank, BCP, and its leading company, According to estimates, Chinese investment in the country could total 12 billion dollars.

Perhaps the most contentious issue is China Three Gorges' bid to take a controlling stake in EDP, of which it is already the main stakeholder. The operation, launched in May, involves some nine billion euros.

But while it has been welcomed by the it still risks running foul of barriers imposed by regulators in around 15 countries where operates -- including the

China has risen to Portugal's 11th-largest trade partner in the decade since 2008, when it was 28th on the list.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, December 05 2018. 02:20 IST
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