On 12 September the Strategic Council for Open Economy (CEIE)
met for a third time to continue the work on the
internationalisation of the Portuguese economy through the
promotion of foreign investment and export growth. The meeting was
chaired by Prime-Minister, with its members (Ministers and
Presidents of business organizations) and their personal
representatives in attendance.
Discussions focused on measuring progress achieved on the
implementation of the measures approved at the second meeting on 13
June, as detailed in annex. Out of the 33 measures agreed, 19 were
on track, 5 were on hold and the following were completed:
1. Program for the Capitalization of Exporting SMEs, in
partnership with credit institutions;
2. Emergency Fund for Financing Exporting Companies;
3. Technical information on non tariff barriers for a Business
and Economic Intelligence Platform;
4. Creation of a more favourable and flexible framework
governing agreements to avoid double taxation;
5. Priority on avoiding double taxation given to negotiations
with countries considered strategic for opening the economy;
6. Creation of a central taxpayer coordinator, as a one-stop
shop for large investment projects;
7. Coordinated external action through a lean operational
8. Strategic matrices for internationalisation with priority
markets and sectors for trade and investment;
9. International promotion plan to promote Portugal's image
worldwide leveraging on the unification of the country's external
networks including the promotion of Portugal as a prime tourist
On this occasion Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said "I
welcome progress in the implementation of structural reforms for
opening the Portuguese economy and urge all partners to pursue the
work on the remaining reforms that are essential to restore
Portugal's competitiveness. Personal representatives will also
prepare new themes for review at the next meeting of CEIE".
The group of personal representatives will continue reviewing
implementation and report on progress before the next meeting of
the CEIE on 10 December.
About the CEIE
The Strategic Council for Open Economy (Conselho Estratégico de
Internacionalização da Economia) wasformed in October 2011, further
to a resolution of the Council of Ministers. The Council is in
charge of evaluating public policies and private initiatives, and
their articulation aiming at the internationalization of the
Portuguese economy, the promotion and attraction of foreign
investment and effective development cooperation. CEIE, meets on a
quarterly basis, is chaired by the PrimeMinister Pedro Passos
Coelho, and includes the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs,
Economy and Agriculture, together with the Presidents of the
Confederations of Industry (CIP), Tourism (CTP), Trade (CCP) and
Agriculture (CAP) and the Associations of Entrepreneurs (AEP) and
Industry (AIP). The work of the Council is prepared and its
decisions monitored by a group of eleven personal representatives
and the Agency for Portuguese Foreign Trade and Investment (AICEP)
serves as its secretariat.
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Annex: The CEIE structural reforms and the World Bank Doing
Business (DB) indicators
This note provides information on how the 33 measures agreed by
the CEIE fit within the World Bank Doing Business (DB) indicators.
The Minister of Finance suggested at the 2ndmeeting of
the CEIE that a follow up to the report titled The Growth
Imperative (produced by CIP, the business confederation, and
McKinsey) feed into the 5th review of the Adjustment Program. Since
reforms to restore competitiveness and facilitate structural
adjustment are a major focus thereof, the agreed follow-up work was
carried out by CEIE personal representatives with the help of the
European Commission Support Group on Portugal's Adjustment. Below
is an outline of the main theme in each report according to the
five DB indicators listed.
The CEIE has a key role in monitoring implementation of those
measures over the next ten months.
1. Measures on getting credit (DB rank 126)
The aim of this group of measures is to increase access to
financing with a focus on exporting companies, mostly SMEs. These
measures are essential to strengthen export capabilities and
achieve the target of 40% of GDP in exports, especially given
today's difficulty in accessing credit from financial institutions
for Portuguese companies.
• #1: Program for the Capitalization of Exporting SMEs, in
partnership with credit institutions which would also enable
companies to gain international scale through merger and / or
• #2: Channelling of regional funds (QREN and private sector
funds) to export companies in their re-structuring operations.
These funds will be managed by regional entities with the
participation of business associations and the Mutual Guarantee
Fund. Their ceiling will remain at EUR 1bn.
• #3: assessment and decision on the Emergency Fund for
Financing Exporting Companies
• #4: Creation of an internationalisation bank: assessment of
the possible creation of a bank dedicated to supporting and
fostering the internationalization of Portuguese businesses.
• # 5 SOFID re-structuring: review existing framework of
operation for SOFID in order to increase investment flexibility and
dimension. An evaluation of an increase in capital will be
conducted, with a view to strengthening its ability to finance
Portuguese companies abroad through the participation in the
European Financing Partners consortium and projects with bigger
• #6: Reinforcement of co-financing capabilities: accompanying
the establishment and operation of a credit line for co-financing
of business-led projects for the acquisition of capital goods in
tradable sectors of the economy supported by various structural
• #7: Better loan conditions for SMEs: evaluate proposals to
grant Public Fund status to the Mutual Guarantee Fund, with the
purpose of allocating more capital to SME lending.
• #8: Improve access to international financing for SMEs:
establish partnerships with foreign financial institutions with a
view to facilitating Portuguese investment in those markets, along
the lines of current contacts with the Inter-American Development
Bank order to explore mechanisms for financing investments in Latin
America and promoting partnerships with Brazil to boost access to
2. Measures on dealing with (construction or other) permits (DB
These measures are intended to reduce the bureaucratic weight
surrounding permitting which often leads to excessive delays on
projects and investment.
• # 1, 2 Information platform on permitting: set-up of a
platform providing information on industrial, commercial and
tourism permits and an electronic mechanism to ease on
environmental impact assessment procedures.
3. Measures on paying taxes (DB rank 78)
These measures are intended to increase flexibility in tax
administration in order to allow for swift processes and make
Curb double taxation:
• # 1-2: creation of a more favourable and flexible framework
governing agreements to avoid double taxation; priority should be
given to negotiations with countries considered strategic for
opening the economy.
• # 3-4: simplification of tax procedures for Portuguese
• # 5-12 Incentives for internationalisation: review of
applicable VAT to cross-border transactions and operations; better
assistance to taxpayers; increased transparency of procedures,
speedier reimbursement processes with a focus on exporting
• # 13, 14 Improve communication with taxpayers: improve support
in pre-declarative processes, reduction of the response lag with
regards to binding information and reassess the maximum cost of the
provision of urgent information.
• # 15 Better coordination: creation of a central taxpayer
coordinator, as a one-stop shop for large investment projects.
Refining laws governing fiscal disputes:
• #16: Improve efficiency with regards to reimbursement
procedures resulting from contentious processes; amend
administrative hurdles that contribute to a backlog of processes in
• # 17: evaluate the costs and benefits of assessing collateral
when the first ruling is favourable to the taxpayer.
4. Measures on trading across borders (DB rank 26)
The aim of this work stream is to ensure that there is
coordinated effort to promote Portugal's companies and potential
abroad. Here, focus is placed on the added-value resulting from
long-standing relations with Portuguese speaking languages.
• #1 Coordinated external action: definition of a lean
operational model, of governance standards and objectives
underpinning more effective external actions in future. As part of
this effort, the creation of a CEIE coordinating entity could be
• #2 Strategic matrices for internationalisation: building upon
existing research studies, elaborate a mapping of priority markets
and sectors for Portuguese companies with international
• #3 International promotion plan: development of a strategy to
promote Portugal's image worldwide leveraging on the unification of
the country's extensive external networks around the diplomatic
service and on the shared culture within the CPLP . The plan is to
be closely associated with activities developed by Turismo de
Portugal, as the entity responsible for the promotion of Portugal
as a prime tourist destination.
• #4: Reinforcement of export capacity: creation of a certified
network of products that will promote the image of Portugal
• #5 Export portal: creation of a portal platform for
international business facilitation on administrative procedures
and business opportunities, monitoring of investment projects;
provision of tailored advice to Portuguese companies wishing to
• Working Group II # 3 Technical information on non tariff
barriers for a Business and Economic Intelligence Platform.
17 September, 2012