June 14, 2018 by Eden Flaherty
The Week em Breve – June 14
Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Falling Growth, Android Tech Hub in Portugal, Bullfighting Bans, Collapsing Metro, and much, much more!
Portugal’s Growth Falling Behind EU
According to Eurostat data, Portugal had among the lowest GDP growth rates in the EU. It has slowed across the Eurozone, rising 2.5% in the first quarter compared with last year, down from an increase of 2.8% for the last quarter of 2017. During the first quarter of 2018, Portugal grew just 2.1%, year-on-year. This didn’t, however, put the country at the bottom of the list, with Denmark (-0,5%), the United Kingdom (1,2%), Italy (1,4%), and Belgium (1,5%) all showing much lower growth rates.
Portugal Feels the Bite of American Isolationism
GDP growth isn’t the only thing slowing, as Portugal’s trade with the U.S. has shown signs of dropping off. The United States is Portugal’s biggest trading partner after the EU, and imports and exports have grown steadily since 2013. However, exports declined 7.3% in the first quarter compared with last year. This is down to the impact of isolationist American policies, including trade tariffs on imports into the U.S. such as steel.
One Step Closer to San Francisco
Despite this decline in trade, or perhaps because of it, prime minister António Costa is in the United States to drum up investment, specifically for tech. Part of this is the new direct route from Lisbon to San Francisco gettint introduced by TAP. This was announced in a speech following Costa’s meeting with Silicon Valley Bank. The prime minister highlighted the importance of Portugal as a country of innovative business, with a focus on new technologies. That’s one more link between Lisbon and San Francisco, with parallels that the prime minister was keen to point out.
Google Smooshing Costa
Costa is not alone in seeing Portugal as a tech hub, with Google’s vice president saying that “Portugal is one of the leading countries in the digital economy in Europe.” This is why Google has chosen Portugal for a new Android development unit, as announced during Costa’s visit. The flow of tech companies into the country shows no sign of stopping.
Building Blockchain-Ready Businesses
Portugal is making sure that it is staying well ahead of the game when it comes to tech, in the shape of Blockbird Ventures. This Portuguese startup is looking to teach companies, and their bosses, about blockchain, which is set to play a serious role in future business. With three customers already on board, this startup could put Portuguese businesses ahead of their competition when it comes to implementing cutting-edge tech.
Fear of Collapse Prompts Metro Maintenance
Encarnação station is getting closed for construction. The work is being carried out to prevent the collapse of the station’s roof, after an inspection found structural problems. It is set to be completed in 10 days, but this remains to be seen.
Making Bullfighting a Thing of the Past
In recent weeks, bullfighting has hit the news several times, from PANs call for a complete ban, to a proposal limiting broadcasting to protect children. This week, Póvoa de Varzim’s mayor announced that there will be a €5 million investment to turn their bullring into a multipurpose facility. It will no longer host bullfights due to changing public opinion with “the new generations look[ing] at [bullfights] differently,” the mayor said. This is another step toward countrywide changes regarding bullfighting.
Hostel Rules to Become Stricter
Changes to the hostels of Lisbon are coming! The secretary of state for housing defended new legislation that will reclassify hostels. It means that they will no longer be considered alojamento local, but instead require licenses for tourism. Ana Pinho, the secretary of state for housing, said that changes are necessary and that there must be “a good coexistence between housing and alojamento local,” with penalties “for anyone who violated the rules or incurred a recurrent disturbance.”