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Interview with Mr Jorge Rocha de Matos, President of Fundação AIP & LISBOA-FCE

Interview with Mr Jorge Rocha de Matos, President of Fundação AIP & LISBOA-FCE

(Q1) Portugal and the Med countries, in particular, those from the Maghreb, have committed themselves to an exceptional partnership. How is this commitment reflected at the economic level?

Portugal, for historical reasons and geographical proximity, has also developed economic and business relations with the southern Mediterranean countries, particularly the Maghreb. Portugal is not only associated with the various agreements and instruments created to boost EuroMediterranean relations in recent decades, but also, bilaterally, it has been strengthening closer economic and business relations with some of these countries. Recently has been involved through Fundação AIP and its affiliates, in particular "Lisboa-FCE" in Euro-Mediterranean projects through BUSINESSMED. Overall, economic relations with Mediterranean countries have been growing satisfactorily, even though they are concentrated in a small number of countries from the southern mediterranean.

(Q2) How do you see Portuguese companies and businessmen and businesswomen contributing to the diversification and modernization of the Mediterranean economy?

We think that the Portuguese companies, namely businessmen and businesswomen can make a very positive contribution to the diversification and modernization of the Mediterranean economy for several reasons. Portugal is a small open economy that is making a major effort in terms of innovation, modernization and internationalization by engaging in international partnerships. In this respect Euro-Mediterranean partnerships are welcome and have a high growth potential. Additionally, at corporate level women are becoming increasingly important both in the dynamics of startups and in taking up leadership positions in SMEs and large companies. We think that enhancing relations between portuguese and southern Mediterranean companies will allow culture sharing, particularly with regard to new societal challenges. Finally, we are also committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDG 5, on gender equality.

(Q3) What do you think of the concept of co-location and what role it can play in the economic development and industrial policy of the two parties adopting it?

The concept of co-location has been deployed in today's business dynamics, notably startups and technologic companies in the context of the widespread digital transformation of the economy . It will certainly play an important role in the economic development and in industrial policies in particular to stimulate creativity, innovation, leading in the long run to more cost-efficient solutions. Today we are witnessing the development of the «sharing economy», which means different forms of co-working, more flexible forms of work and organizations. The concept of co-location is a very positive response to many of today's and future business challenges, which can be perceived as a more dynamic economy.

(Q4) Which sectors do you think are most likely to be the driving force behind a strategic partnership between Portugal and the other countries of the Med region?

The sectors that contributed more for the economic relations between Portugal and the southern Mediterranean countries were Construction and Infrastructures, Textile, Machines and Equipments (Molds). Currently there are new important societal challenges underlying important business opportunities, such as the Digital Transformation and Energy Transition where renewable industries will be more effective.

(Q5) What is the role of Portugal and in particular of the Fundação AIP in the development of the service sector in the region?

The role of Portugal and Fundação AIP and its affiliates, in particular "Lisboa-FCE", in the development of the service sector in Med region is simple, Connect and Match People. How?

  • Develop joint business platforms in Portugal and in Med Region countries, involving companies, business associations and chambers of commerce and industry, organizations in the fields of education, science and technology, etc.
  • Conduct bilateral business missions.
  • Promote the participation in fairs and sectoral events.

(Q6) What is the Fundação AIP’ contribution to increasing Portuguese investment in the Mediterranean?

Fundação AIP has undertaken several actions such as :

  • Organization of sectoral and multisectoral fairs (e.g. Foire International d’ Alger) and business missions in the Med Region to explore investment opportunities, strengthening the relationship between the various business communities
  • Organization of meeting markets in Portugal, in order to the Portuguese SME better understand the full potential of the different markets within Med region
  • Development of sectoral studies on the economies of the Med region;
  • Participation in Euro-Mediterranean projects and other initiatives aimed to develop economic and business relationships.

(Q7) How can the Fundação AIP help and promote women and young entrepreneurs and startups to better internationalize and build bridges between Europe, the Maghreb, and the Mashreq?

Build bridges, business platforms, business missions, entrepreneurship and other forms of relationship with different regions and economies of the world are an important part of the mission of Fundação AIP. The Maghreb and Mashreq countries are important targets in this relationship. Fundação AIP has two important assets (FIL - International Fair of Lisbon and CCL - Lisbon Congress Centre) in Portugal for holding fairs, congresses and other events. As a market leader in Portugal and in the top 10 at European level, our facilities hold important events in the area of entrepreneurship and startups, namely WEBSUMMIT, one of the largest technological events in the world, most visited by young people and women.

(Q8) What orientations do you want to give to the Fundação AIP’s relations with other business confederations in the Med region?

Our orientation as a result of the Fundação AIP mission is to provide all our experience, resources and know-how to deepen relationships with the countries and economies of the MED region, as well as forging strategic partnerships and other cooperative ties with Confederations and Business Associations of different countries.

(Q9) To what extent and how do you think regional federating bodies such as BUSINESSMED, of which the Fundação AIP is a member, can help?

The federating bodies, and especially BUSINESSMED, play a catalytic role in this Euro-Mediterranean economic and business relational framework. BUSINESSMED also plays an important instrumental role in stimulating projects and initiatives aimed at strengthening horizontal trade and investment relations within the Southern Mediterranean countries, contributing to reinforce their insertion in the global economy. From this perspective, the Fundação AIP also benefits through its participation in projects promoted by BUSINESSMED.

(Q10) What did being a member of BUSINESSMED brought you?

Being a member of BUSINESSMED brings us a better knowledge and easy access to the markets of the Med region, namely through the projects and the networking that is provided to us.

(Q11) What are your organization’s current and future challenges and perspectives?

The Fundação AIP and its affiliates, in particular "Lisboa-FCE" are strongly committed to reinforce their role as a "business platform" in Portugal and as a reference institution for internationalization and business cooperation. These are challenges that we intend to achieve on the basis of a strategic alignment with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals - SDG, which are part of our global social responsibility.

2 March 2020
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