Government praises success of Portuguese construction companies in US

  • Lusa
  • 6 October 2022

The state secretary for internationalisation has praised the "countless examples of success" of Portuguese companies in the construction industry in American soil.

Portugal’s state secretary for internationalisation, Bernardo Ivo Cruz, has praised the “countless examples of success” of Portuguese companies in the construction industry in a “very difficult and competitive” market such as the US.

Speaking to Lusa at the annual seminar of the Network of Construction Entrepreneurs (CENSE) in the US city of Newark, the secretary of state welcomed the presence of dozens of Portuguese-American companies at the event, stressing that many had travelled from Portugal on purpose to explore business opportunities there.

“Just look around: we have a huge room full of companies that came from Portugal and Portuguese companies that were formed here, in the state of New Jersey, in the construction sector. This is extraordinary. It is the strength of the Portuguese community, of Portuguese businesses, of the Portuguese language, which is here in this room celebrating how much it can do in a very difficult, very competitive market, a market where everyone is here,” he said.

Ivo Cruz stressed that there are “countless examples of success” of Portuguese-American entrepreneurs and explained that no one arrives in the United States helpless, as there is strong support from both the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP) and the Portuguese community already rooted on US soil.

“The Portuguese community is a well-established, well-integrated community, which makes its voice count and has economic, political and social importance in the state and the region. I think there are no bad stories in this room, only success stories,” he assessed.

“There is a solidarity between those who were born here, those who arrived a few years ago and those who are arriving now. The companies do not arrive helpless. They arrive supported by AICEP, but they also know that there is a network of Portuguese that can hire them and help them to make that bridge in a very integrated and planned way. There is room for everyone, no one is left alone and the more people that want to come, the more they will be welcome”, added the secretary of state.

Dozens of Portuguese-American businesspeople from the construction industry met on Wednesday in Newark, in the state of New Jersey, to explore business opportunities from the plan of Joe Biden’s administration to renew the national infrastructure related to roads, bridges, railways, energy supply and water supply services.

The event was attended by companies with a diversified business scope, but with a high presence in the construction industry, both in buildings and infrastructures, in the several North American states where they are based, such as Power Concrete, Tavares Concrete Company, Highway Traffic Control, Roy Rock, among many others.

In terms of political representatives, in addition to the state secretary for internationalisation, Hugo Soares, secretary-general of the PSD, Portugal’s social democrat party, Hugo Soares; José Cesário, coordinator of the PSD Portuguese Communities secretariat; Luís Sequeira, Portugal’s new consul-general in Newark, as well as a representative from the Newark state government, were also present.

To Lusa, Hugo Soares indicated that throughout the seminar he tried to convey the idea that North Americans “can really invest in Portuguese entrepreneurs, because they know how to do as well or better than others”.

“The message is to affirm the quality of our business fabric also here in the United States. To those who are here, who have done their business here, my appeal is that they may invest in Portugal,” he urged.

The PSD secretary-general assessed that Portugal still needs to work on its labour legislation to become a “truly foreign investment-friendly” country, although he believes there is no shortage of other attraction factors.

“Portugal is not today – but we seek and want it to become – a truly foreign investment friendly country, which can capture foreign investment and for that we need fiscal stability. We need to lower taxation in Portugal. We need to make labour legislation a little more flexible, similar to what is already happening in the United States, and from there we can try to attract investment. Because Portugal is a country where business can happen, where it is good to live, and for North Americans it is a great opportunity”, he said.

Hugo Soares also believed that Portuguese businesspeople are “seen in a good light” in the United States and that they have “a tremendous business quality and capacity to create wealth.

The secretary general of the PSD also told Lusa that he saw some companies formalising good contracts in this seminar – promoted by Portuguese-American company Media Consult – hoping that this will be reflected in the balance of exports of goods and services from Portugal.

Luís Sequeira said the event conveyed an image of “great vitality” of Portugal and the Portuguese economy.

“This event offers very good opportunities to do business with Portuguese, Portuguese-American and also North American businesspeople. The fact that businesspeople from Portugal to New Jersey are present here is also proof of Portugal’s interest in investing and receiving US investment,” said the consul.