The Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries (Forum Macau) will be an important opportunity to reinforce its stated objectives and address long-standing issues affecting trade between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries. Portuguese-speaking countries, according to analysts and members of the business sector told the Macau News Agency.
Six years after the last ministerial conference, the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries (Forum Macao) will hold an extraordinary ministerial meeting on April 10 via a conference in online and offline mode.
The last ministerial conference took place in 2016, with the participation of Prime Minister Li Keqiang and several ministers and delegates from Portuguese-speaking countries of China, the SAR and the eight participating Portuguese-speaking member countries.
The Forum’s Ministerial Conference, which is supposed to be held in Macau every three years, was originally scheduled to be held in 2019, but was first postponed to 2020 so as not to overlap with the Chief Executive elections, then postponed again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the theme “A world without a pandemic, a common development”, the meeting – which is not officially classified as a ministerial conference – is expected to include speeches by government officials from eight member countries of the Macau Forum which will be broadcast via video conference.
“The extraordinary meeting of the Macau Forum is undoubtedly important. It allows the Forum to project itself into the years to come and to pursue its objectives. The last ministerial conference took place in 2016 and the action plans issued during the conferences are fundamental for the functioning of the Forum,” said Pedro Santos, Ph.D. candidate in Portuguese-speaking country studies and lecturer at the City University of Macau told MNA.
“The action plans define the areas of interest that deserve the intervention of Forum Macau for the coming years”
According to the researchers, the meeting is likely to discuss the various cooperation measures and initiatives in combating and preventing the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as strengthening Macau as a platform between China and the PLP, and the stimulation of economic growth. among the members of the Macau Forum.
The meeting will also formalize the entry of Equatorial Guinea as an effective member of the Macau Forum, the institution now integrating 10 countries: China, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Prince and East Timor.
“The addition of a new member to Forum Macau is a sign of growth for the organization. Equatorial Guinea has different characteristics from other CSPs, in terms of culture and history, so it will be interesting to assess how it will adapt and contribute to the Forum,” noted Santos.
“The new members help expand areas of interest and influence, contributing to better trade and economic relations for all members of the Macau Forum.”
Resolve long-standing issues
The total value of imports and exports between China and Portuguese-speaking countries last year reached about 200.9 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of 38.4 percent.
Among them, Chinese imports from Portuguese-speaking countries amounted to US$136.134 billion, an increase of 33.53% year-on-year; exports to Portuguese-speaking countries amounted to US$64.8 billion, an increase of about half year-on-year.
In 2021 and despite the pandemic, the total value of imports and exports between Macau and Portuguese-speaking countries last year amounted to MOP 730 million, an increase of 2.8% year-on-year.
The president of the International Association of Companies in Portuguese-Speaking Markets (ACIML), Eduardo Ambrósio, told MNA that the group recently held a meeting with the new Secretary General of the Macau Forum, Ji Xianzheng, during which they discussed of some of the “problems” encountered by SMEs engaged in trade between the two linguistic economic blocks, including the poor use of the China-Lusophone Countries Development Fund.
The US$1 billion Lusophone Countries of China Cooperation and Development Fund was jointly established by the Development Bank of China and the Macau Industrial and Trade Development Fund has long been underutilized, Ambrósio noting that minimum loan requirements prevented many small businesses from applying. .
Ji was appointed as the new general secretary of the Macau Forum, a position that had been vacant since September 2020, when Xu Yingzhen left the position.
The headquarters of the fund was moved from Beijing to Macao in 2017, with the aim of enhancing Macao’s role as a financial services hub among member countries and making it easier for investors to obtain information about the fund. companies concerned.
Based on the risk management and control requirements, CPDFund will determine the investment limit for each company, project and industry, with the investment scale for a single project varying between US$5 million and US$20 million.
However, since its inception, the fund has mainly invested in only three projects worth $35 million in Angola, Brazil and Mozambique.
“The fund hasn’t been used much so far due to its minimum loan limit of $5 million, which is only 20-30% of the project cost. Interest rates are also high, therefore Macau entities are unable to use the fund. For small businesses in the SAR, how can we use the fund to carry out projects in Angola, Mozambique or East Timor,” Ambrósio told MNA.
“We want to be able to use the fund and have asked the Secretary General if it would be possible to reduce this minimum of 5 million US dollars so that local businessmen can make use of it”
Another issue raised by the association concerned the teaching of Portuguese in the RAS, with the businessman stressing that the focus should not be solely on the language itself but on trade.
“It would be important to have a language school that could also bring Portuguese-speaking countries and businessmen from the mainland to reside for a year in Macao and learn Portuguese or Mandarin. They would have the opportunity to discuss common projects. I think that would be more helpful,” he added.
ACIML hopes that training institutions can be established to attract the talents of mainland and Portuguese-speaking companies to learn about the commercial market, investment and other information between the two areas after the pandemic so that the entrepreneurs from both places can deepen exchanges and promote cooperation opportunities between the two sides.
The association also hoped that the borders could reopen soon so that we can travel freely to the mainland for business and requested that the SAR be used as a clearing center for RMB in order not only to improve the status of the currency in the exchanges economic and commercial with Portuguese. -mother-tongue countries, but also promote the internationalization of the RMB.