Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza declared in Maputo on Thursday that Mozambique is committed to the creation of a stronger business class with the capacity to establish partnerships with foreign counterparts, in an environment of mutual respect and benefits.
Speaking at the opening of a business seminar on the theme “Portugal and Mozambique: Encouraging Partnerships for Sustainable Development”, Guebuza explained that there are many opportunities in Mozambique which require greater commitment from national and foreign businesses.
He added that the government is continuing to do all in its power so that Mozambique becomes a world reference point for foreign investment in an environment of a fair division of the benefits from these investments.
“We make a positive assessment of the bilateral relations between our two countries”, said Guebuza. “Over the last six years, Portugal has injected into the Mozambican economy more than six billion US dollars of investment”.
He added that agriculture, renewable sources of energy, fisheries, tourism, infrastructures, industry and trade are among the areas which need partnerships in order to take advantage of the vast business opportunities which Mozambique offers.
Added to this potential, he said, are the initiatives opening with the new discoveries of mineral resources. These provided the space to establish partnerships in providing services to support the extractive industry.
Such partnerships “will complement the role played by the public sector in creating an environment favourable for investment”, Guebuza said.
For his part, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho recognized that Mozambique is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, with a growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2013. Projections indicate that growth is likely to continue at a similar rate for the next few years.
“The economic climate is very favourable, and inflation remained stable in 2013, at around 3.5 per cent”, said Passos Coelho.
In recent years, he continued, the Mozambican government had made a clear decision to embrace major investment projects centred on the exploitation of natural resources such as coal and gas. “It is envisaged that these projects in Tete and Cabo Delgado provinces will catalyse other major investments in productive infrastructures”, he said,
Portuguese companies, Passos Coelho claimed, are committed to contributing to all these projects, and to supporting the development and competitiveness of the Mozambican economy.
The Portuguese Prime Minister added that his government has managed to unblock instruments for commercial financing and the promotion of business cooperation to a total value of 134 million euros (about 184 million US dollars).
In making available such a large sum, he said, Portugal was demonstrating its commitment at bilateral level, and, above all, was suggesting to international investors that they ought to opt to put their money into Mozambique.
The government had unblocked these finds (originally promised in 2009) “despite the situation that Portugal is going through”, said Passos Coelho. “This is a particularly significant financial effort, and is a clear demonstration of the priority we grant to our relations with Mozambique”.
He stressed that trade between Mozambique and Portugal had grown strongly in 2013. Portuguese exports to Mozambique were 14 per cent higher than in 2012, reaching 326 million euros. Trade the other way is much smaller, and reached only 62 million euros - but this meant that Mozambican exports to Portugal grew by 281 per cent in the space of a year.
Mozambique was an increasingly important customer for Portuguese companies, said Passos Coelho, and occupies 19th position in the ranking of the countries with which Portugal traders. Mozambique is Portugal's fourth largest trading partner in Africa,
He said that Portuguese direct investment in Mozambique reached 172 million dollars in 2013, and created 9.962 new jobs, 4,532 more than in the previous year.
In terms of Foreign Direct Investment into Mozambique, Portugal occupies third position, and Portuguese companies have the largest number of projects approved (168 in 2013) by the Mozambican government's Investment Promotion Centre (CPI).
Passos Coelho claimed that “on average every million dollars of Portuguese direct investment created 58 jobs, much higher than the average for the other investors”.