In line with the growth characteristically
experienced by developed countries, the Portuguese economy
has become more services-oriented in recent years.
Far more important than the growth in the Product
and Employment structure are entrepreneurial behaviors
in those sub-sectors of Services that are relevant because
of their contribution to the modernization of the Portuguese
As far as Banks, Telecommunications, Distribution,
Transportation and Tourism are concerned, an increasing
number of companies have shown a capacity to face up to
the competitiveness of the European market and the globalization
challenge in other markets.
Banks and other Financial Services have
benefited from a favorable conjuncture, expanding through
reorganization. All public banks, therefore, have been privatized,
except for the Caixa Geral de Depósitos Group. As
a consequence of these privatizations, acquisitions, mergers
and profound internal restructuring, on the one hand, and
several international strategic alliances, on the other,
modern financial groups have emerged. These groups are capable
of innovating products and processes (for example, the Portuguese
ATM network) and organizing their presence in international
financial markets (through the acquisition of financial institutions
- recently in Spain and Brazil - or the establishment of
branches in foreign countries, mainly in the investment banking
sector, frequently as joint ventures). Under these conditions,
Portuguese Banking has been preparing for an active role
in the European financial system, driven by the euro.
We are also experiencing an important move
toward modernization in other sectors, where major public
companies underwent progressive privatization. On the one
hand, this upgrade is based on requalifying human resources
capacities and restructuring manpower, while innovating techniques
and procedures. On the other hand, it is underpinned by strategic
international alliances. As a result, we are now ready to
successfully join large operator networks, based on a sustained
growth of productivity and profitability.
A change has also occurred in the Construction
and Distribution areas, dominated as they are by private
companies. In some cases, this is worked through internal
expansion, while in others, though acquisitions and mergers.
Simultaneously, the concerted effort made to get established
in external markets (with important positioning in Africa,
Eastern Europe or Brazil) is proof of the growth and modernization
capacity of the largest companies in these sectors.
These enterprises are followed by a set
of smaller companies, which occupy niches in the internal
market or in specific selected markets. Such companies are
either in the same sectors or related services, such as business
consulting, engineering services, data base or audio-visual.
All examples of those that have succeeded in redefining a
strategy and organization for international competitive capacity.
As to the Hotels and the Food & Beverage sectors,
in recent years we have seen an increasing growth and a relevant
improvement in terms of quality. This has come about due
to the appearance of more tourism business, contributed to
not only by foreign visitors but Portuguese nationals too.
This greater interest in tourism may well be the outcome
of an increase in real disposable income in recent years.
The Tourism sector accounts for 8% of GDP
and directly employs around 6% of the working population.
The potentiality of the sector is great, in view of the fact
that it already boasts a consolidated image as a tourist
destination. In addition, Portugal is known for the quality
of its natural-beauty resources and as an established tourist
product. It is also highly thought of because of its professionally
trained and qualified human resources, allied to the fact
that it is recognized as a place to vacation safely.
Portugal does not disdain the very good geographical
position nature has granted it and firmly grasps
the possibilities, inherent in its natural vocation, to
develop it as a tourist's favorite leisure spot.
Marketing policies and development of the
offer will mean having to undergo a substantial change in
trying to improve Portugal's competitive goals as a tourist
Portugal has an open economy, not only
as far as Tourism is concerned, but also in terms of international
trade and foreign investment.
Portuguese international trade has, in
particular, contributed substantially to the country's economic
growth. During the past 10 years, the degree of openness
in the economy has been significant, accounting for between
60 and 70% of GDP.
This situation leads us to analyze the changes that
have occurred in the services' major sub-sector - trading.
This sector is essentially woven into a corporate fabric,
strongly marked by manifold and mutating characteristics
visible over the past decade. Structural transformations
have been implemented at a brisk and intense pace. It is
true to say that, whether we are talking about the development
of new types of distribution approaches and entrepreneurial
cooperation, or about the introduction of new technologies.
With regard to transportation and access utilities,
current policy entails various branches of transportation
- especially land and sea. Government moves in this area
are focused on developing an integrated and sustainable policy,
supporting the logistics of such a globally integrated trade.
Finally, Government Services also face
the need to contribute to this important restructuring of
the economy. This effort is particularly obvious in specialized
institutions - such as ICEP and IAPMEI - called upon to support
the endeavor of Portuguese and foreign companies in terms
of innovation and globalization