There are about 1,000 American companies, employing 50,000 employees, 50% of whom have been here for more than 10 years, and whose total sales represent 4.5% of Portugal’s GDP.
The AMCHAM was founded after the end of World War II, in 1951, by a group of American entrepreneurs who wanted to stay and invest in Portugal.
Last year we celebrated our 70th anniversary, a very relevant landmark in the life of an organization.
In a first phase, the Chamber was focused on the management and promotion of the American investments and trade in Portugal. Later, it also began to support Portuguese trade and investments in the USA.
The existing path was therefore widened, becoming a two-ways highway.
Currently, AMCHAM has among its members – and especially in its Board – some of the largest American companies present in Portugal, as well as some of the largest Portuguese investors in the USA.
Based on the traditional historical ties between these two Nations – it should be highlighted that Portugal was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of the USA; on the strong presence of a successful community of Portuguese-descendants in America; on the geostrategic position of Portugal in the world – reinforced by the fact that Portugal is a founding member of NATO -, economic ties have been continuously strengthened.
More recently, the transatlantic flow of academics and executives – the latter associated with investments that have been made in both countries – helped to consolidate this trend.
AMCHAM is therefore positioned as a platform to facilitate and promote businesses between the two sides of the Atlantic. And it does so by providing information, training and advice, organizing networking events and business missions in both countries.
Aligned with the key challenges of the present world, the Chamber is currently organized in Activity Groups, which address some of the themes that are most relevant to the business community nowadays: Digitization and Technology, Sustainability, R&D and Education, Health and Tourism
Portugal as an attractive destination for American investments
There are several factors that make Portugal an attractive country to have a business relationship with and to invest in, which are well illustrated in the World Economic Forum’s Annual Competitiveness Report.
Among them are the quality of its infrastructures, health services and universities, a favorable environment for R&D initiatives and the availability of qualified engineering and management talent. But also the location, hospitality, safety, fluency in English, the cost of living and, in some cases, national or local incentives for investing.
Macroeconomic stability – we should keep in mind that Portugal has no recent record of public debt default, despite the various financial crises it has experienced – and the social and political stability it presents, reinforce the reputation of this country as a desirable destination to do business.
And that is what American investors have been doing: the weight of U.S. investments represented 11% of all Foreign Direct Investment in Portugal, before the pandemics
There are about 1,000 American companies, employing 50,000 employees, 50% of whom have been here for more than 10 years (28% for more than 20 years), and whose total sales represent 4.5% of Portugal’s GDP.
Also relevant is the fact that 60% of the investments in Portuguese startups are originated in the USA.
And it is not only the investment and trade figures that reflect this attractiveness, but also the increasing flow of American tourists and visitors that demonstrates it: it grew 23%, before the pandemics, reaching a record number of 1.2 million visitors per year.
The USA as a preferred market for investing and exporting
The US is today the 5th largest destination for Portuguese products and services (almost 6 billion euros per year), and the second outside the EU (it was the first before Brexit).
At the same time, the investment of Portuguese corporations in the USA is growing fast, confirming the attractiveness of that market and showing how those companies developed the right intelligence and expertise to be successful there.
It is therefore clear that, on top of the aspects mentioned before – history, culture, alliances –, the access to information, the dynamics and the new skills that were generated by the globalization of the economies have undoubtedly been very well captured by Portuguese entrepreneurs and managers to achieve those results.
The future of AMCHAM
On the short term, AMCHAM will continue to support its members in these difficult times of pandemics and economic recovery, helping them to find the best solutions for their future, through the services it offers, with a particular emphasis on the organization of networking events with top speakers, either presential or online.
And this is not new: we should remind that in the 1st half of 2021, during the lockdown period, AMCHAM held a series of Webinars, together with its partner AMCHAM Europe, on topics that were most relevant to the business environment then, in alignment with the Portuguese Presidency of the EU at that time.
Later in the year, it organized the very successful presential 1st Transatlantic Economic and Trade Summit and several breakfasts and lunches with prominent personalities.
At the same time, on the long term, AMCHAM is looking to increase its members base and foster business opportunities for its members, always bearing in mind the principle that “strong and healthy economic relations are an important factor for the strengthening of the global relations between two countries”.
In this case, between two great Nations, with a respectable history and who respect each other, that have aligned views on the key challenges facing humanity today: from climate change and energy transition to the implementation of more just socio-economic development models, or simply ensuring the inclusion and non-discrimination of the marginalized sectors of societies.
For all these good reasons, we want to be here for another 70 years.