Relations between Macao and Portuguese-speaking Countries
Due to historical ties, Macao has forged close and extensive connections with Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs) across four continents which cover a total population of over 200 million. Macao is a city free from external debt and foreign currency restrictions, and enjoys the status as both a free port and a separate customs territory. It adopts a simple and low taxation system with a corporate profit tax rate not exceeding 12%. Macao has a public administration structure and legal system based on those of Portugal and follows a public administration and legal regime similar to other PSCs, which facilitates an understanding of respective systems between China and PSCs. In addition to Chinese, Portuguese is also the official language of Macao, and contracts and agreements in both languages are signed between enterprises. Macao has a large pool of bilingual professionals as well as many Portuguese expatriates and immigrants who can provide translation/interpretation, accounting and legal services to enterprises from the mainland and PSCs during their commercial negations and co-operation. Meanwhile, Macao has played its unique advantages as a Commercial and Trade Co-operation Service Platform between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (referred to below “China and PSCs Platform”).
The Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (referred to below as ‘Forum Macao’) has been convened in Macao five times since 2003, and during each session a Strategic Plan for Economic and Trade Co-operation was signed. The Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao was established in Macao in 2004 to execute and implement the resolutions approved at the conference.
In the 5th Ministerial Conference of Forum Macao in October 2016, leaders of China and PSCs signed the Strategic Plan for Economic and Trade Co-operation (2017-2019). During the opening ceremony, China announced 18 new supportive measures including the support of Macao in the construction the China and PSCs Platform. After the conference, Macao SAR Government actively implemented measures and promoted the development of various objectives, namely the inauguration of China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Federation of Entrepreneurs in Macao, the set-up of China and Portuguese-speaking Countries Co-operation and Development Fund headquarter and the orderly implementation of the “Three Centres” through a series of online and offline efforts (namely a food product distribution centre for PSCs, a convention and exhibition centre for economic and trade co-operation between China and PSCs, and a commercial and trade service centre for SMEs of China and PSCs). Furthermore, the Complex of Commerce and Trade Co-operation Platform for China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (referred to below as ‘the Complex’), already completed and put into use, will serve the permanent venue of Forum Macao and provide facilitation services for co-operation between China and PSCs with its integrated functions covering commercial services, economic and trade negotiations, product display, cultural exhibitions and information exchange. In December 2019, President Xi Jinping when paid a visit at the Complex mentioned that the construction of Commercial and Trade Co-operation Service Platform between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries is an important measure for Macau in giving full play of its own strengths and serving the needs of our country.
In April 2022, the Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao) was held in Beijing and Macao via online and offline and the main venue of the Meeting was held in the “Complex”. The Meeting was held under the theme “Cooperate to fight against the pandemic, Collaborate for common development” where was discussed the role of Macao as a platform to promote the economic recovery. In the opening ceremony, the Premier of State Council, Li Keqiang in his video speech in Beijing, pointed out three suggestions, namely maintain peace and stability to promote development and prosperity; strengthen solidarity and coordination to defeat the pandemic at an early date and stick to openness and cooperation to promote economic recovery. After the Meeting, leaders of Forum Macao signed the “Joint Declaration”. In addition, the ministers of the participating countries declared officially the acceptance of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as the tenth participating country of the Forum Macao.
The National 14th Five-Year Plan clearly states the support of Macao to expand its functions as Commercial and Trade Co-operation Service Platform between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. The Macao SAR published the second five-year plan which also stressed the need to deepen the construction of the Service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, further expand the functions of China and PSCs Platform and actively develop the exchange and co-operation in the areas of economy, trade, finance and culture. With the support of Central Government, Macau will enhance its role as service platform and speed up a “dual circulation” growth model and further serve as a bridge for two-way exchanges and co-operation between the China, Macao and Portuguese Speaking Countries.