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Portugal: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Portugal

Business people are expected to dress smartly and English is widely spoken in business circles, although when visiting a small family business it is best to check in advance. When addressing someone, it is customary to use their title followed by their full name. Regardless of their degree, university graduates are usually referred to as 'Doctor' and co-workers often refer to each other as 'colleague'. Business cards are only exchanged by senior members of a company. It can be considered rude to write anything official in red ink. Business socialising focuses on eating and drinking in bars and restaurants. July and August are best avoided as many are on holiday.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1300 and 1500-1900.


Portugal was traditionally an agrarian economy, but since it joined the EU in 1986 its industrial and service sectors have grown considerably by comparison. Agriculture still employs around 10% of the workforce (unusually high by Western European standards) and contributes around 8% of GDP, producing wheat, maize, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, grapes, fish and meat and dairy products. The manufacturing sector is dominated by the textile, footwear and machinery industries.

Portugal joined the Eurozone upon its inauguration in 1999. Unfortunately, since then, the economy has struggled and in 2011 the country accepted a €78 billion bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, along with a three year aid programme that ended in May 2014. The economy has started showing signs of recovery, however. Unemployment stood at 11.9% in 2015 while inflation was 2.5%.


US$198.9 billion (2015).

Main exports

Clothing and footwear, machinery, chemicals and cork.

Main imports

Machinery/transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum, leather and textiles.

Main trading partners

Spain, Germany, France, UK and Angola.

Keeping in Touch in Portugal


There are call boxes in most villages and all towns; there are also public telephones in many cafés and bars, from which you can make international calls. Internet cafés in the main tourist areas are usually set up for Skype.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies and coverage exists across the whole country, but you can buy a cheap phone on arrival.


Wi-Fi access is available in various hotels, restaurants and public buildings. There are internet cafés in most urban areas, and some rural ones, while post offices offer web facilities.


Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) operates public TV and radio services, with two domestic TV channels plus two foreign ones on the mainland and in Madeira. SIC and TVI are the other commercial TV channels with TV Cabo the main pay-TV operator. Rádio Comercial and Rádio Clube Português are two of the commercial radio channels with Rádio Renascenca the very popular Roman Catholic Church owned channel. Each region has its own Portuguese-language daily newspaper alongside nationals Diario Noticias, Público and Expresso. The Portugal News ( is an English-language newspaper published in print and online, and English newspapers are available from airports. In 2004 Madeirans were granted access to standard (RTP) services without having to pay satellite subscription charges.


Airmail to European destinations from continental Portugal and the Azores takes three days; from Madeira, up to five days. Post to the USA can take up to two weeks.

Post Office hours

Open Mon-Fri 0900-1800, while some are also open on Saturday and Sunday. The post office at Lisbon Airport is open 24 hours a day.

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