Angola continues to be a fundamental market for Portuguese exports: "it is the ninth market worldwide and the third country outside the European Union, behind the United States and the United Kingdom, and the main market in the CPLP", stressed Francisco Alegre Duarte.
Between January and October 2022, exports of Portuguese goods and services to Angola reached 2 billion euros, a year-on-year growth of 63 percent compared to 2021, while Angolan exports to Portugal reached 614 million euros, an increase of 365 percent compared to the same period of the previous year, "pulled" by oil.
Currently, more than 4000 Portuguese companies export to Angola and around 1200 companies of Portuguese origin or mixed capital operate in the Angolan market, with emphasis on the construction sector.
"The Portuguese companies that are here and that have endured in this most difficult period, of recession, of the pandemic, which have been losing money for long periods, have maintained their jobs as much as possible, honored their commitments and made a decisive contribution to the economy Angola", highlighted the diplomat, praising the "unique bond" between the two countries.
"When we look at the Portuguese presence – apart from oil and diamonds – in everything that has to do with the productive fabric of Angola, there is another presence that compares to that of Portugal in terms of job creation, an area of wealth shared?" he asked.
In addition to the contribution to the economy, Francisco Alegre Duarte highlighted the importance that businessmen have had in training Angolan staff, not only to save on the costs of hiring expatriates, also associated with some "delay in work visas", but essentially for "a long-term vision".
Portuguese businessmen want to play "a key role in Angola's economic diversification", stressed the official, adding that it is also necessary to respond to Angola's "demographic challenge" with public policies and training of human capital in various areas.
Francisco Alegre Duarte told Lusa that Portugal acts in various sectors of cooperation, being a "reliable partner" in strengthening institutional capacity and training human capital, in bilateral or delegated cooperation, carried out by the Camões Institute and financed by the European Union.
"There is no other partner that leaves so much ballast in terms of institutional capacity building and reinforcement of human capital in critical areas such as health, education, justice, defense, security", he said, hoping that, in the coming years, new related sectors will be framed with the diversification of the Angolan economy such as agri-food, tourism, renewable energies or Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
Asked about Angola's rapprochement with other countries, he considered it "natural" that the Executive led by João Lourenço seeks diversified partnerships, which has also been evidenced by the successive visits of high-level international officials (in January, Angola received the heads of Chinese and Russian diplomacy, with the visit of the Kings of Spain scheduled for early February).
"This means that Angola counts on the diplomatic level and there are several reasons (for that), it has to do with the commitment that the president has been making at the regional level, in mediating the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it also results from the work very effective by Minister Téte António", said the Portuguese ambassador.
As for the impact of this competition on Portuguese companies, Francisco Alegre Duarte underlined that "there is room for everyone", pointing to projects that have the contribution of companies from various countries with the Benguela solar power plants.
For this reason, he stressed, in the political-institutional dialogue, Portugal will "continue to speak with the usual complicity and frankness between friends", even in relation to matters where the positions are divergent, as in "Russia's aggression against Ukraine" in which Portugal, unlike Angola, does not have "an equidistant position".
Francisco Alegre Duarte has been Portugal's ambassador to Angola since March 2022, having replaced Pedro Pessoa e Costa in office.