US ambassador is vigilant about upsurge of Chinese investment in Portugal, but optimistic about Sines

  • ECO News
  • 6 July 2018

George Glass told the news agency Lusa the US is vigilant about the rise of Chinese investment in Portuguese utility company, EDP.

US ambassador to Portugal, George Glass, is not concerned about the growth of investment coming from the Chinese – rather, he considers the US remains vigilant.

They berate the way in which the state-owned Chinese corporations investing in the public utility companies have been following orders from Beijing’s leaders. Portugal remains as one of the main access points to Europe, and both Beijing and Washington are aware of the strategic importance of Portugal.

Thus, for Glass these are not purely business-oriented investments – they are mainly political strategies as we are not witnessing transactions being made between private companies or entities – again, these are state-owned enterprises thereby following the Chinese government’s interests. It certainly does not please Trump’s administration that Chinese investors have such tight links with Beijing.

China Three Gorges (CTG) takeover bid

The ambassador also reminded the news agency that they have been following up on the takeover bid the Chinese company China Three Gorges (CTG) has done with the intention to acquire the majority of EDP’s share capital.

He suggested that thought should be given to the fact the entire company – and not any company, a utility company – is on the verge of becoming mostly Chinese-owned. For the moment, the CTG and CNIC Corporation control almost 30% of EDP’s shares.

He fears that CTG becoming the main shareholder of EDP could have implications in the ten million dollars investment EDP’s subsidiary EDP Renováveis has made in the US.

The trade war has been escalating, especially after Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports to the US last Friday.

US is lobbying for a more fair game in EU-US trade.

He considered as well that Trump’s concerns about the lack of reciprocity in US-EU trade are valid, giving the US-Germany car trade as an example of unfairness. Glass reminded the Portuguese news agency that Trump is an entrepreneur, first and foremost. And therefore he looks at these matters mostly from a business standpoint.

The US has scheduled a new cycle of negotiations with Mexico and Canada, and in all likelihood, US-EU negotiations are next.

Sines – Portugal has the chance to become EU’s Singapore

The ambassador also talked about the paramount importance bared by the port of Sines as the main natural gas gateway in Europe. By the end of the month, a summit will be held in Lisbon aiming to discuss the strategic planning of the gas distribution between Spain, Portugal, and France.

The US has shifted from being the major importer to the major exporter of this energy source, and the diplomat warned Lusa about the importance of optimizing the operation’s performance fast, envisioning the ultimate goal of providing Europe with energetic independence from Russia, noting it is certainly one of Trump administration’s priorities.

Portuguese people are humble, said Glass. But he considers it is probably time to stop being so modest and just dare to be bolder, seizing opportunities brought up by the fact that some London-based companies will have to change their headquarters elsewhere – which translates to a great momentum to attract foreign investment and create new opportunities in Portugal, as the need for these companies to operate in continental Europe does not change.