Speech of His Majesty the King at the lunch with businessmen, hosted by Mr. Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto
Thank you for your kind words. The Queen and I are delighted to be in Porto again, and we thank you for hosting this lunch in the beautiful Palácio da Bolsa. A palace that was built by your Trade Association 150 years ago. The palace as a whole and the Arab room, in which we stand, in particular, tell us a lot about the Norte Region of Portugal and about the many features we have in common. A solid international trade record, with ports reaching out over the whole world. A geographic location that is ideal for global connectivity. And, of course, a simply unique historical heritage.
Today, we are both confronted with similar challenges, too. Brexit, for example. As our prosperity depends largely on exports, both Portugal and Belgium are concerned about the unavoidable re-emergence of trade barriers, which Brexit will cause. Increasing trade and investments between Portugal and Belgium could compensate. The double bridge over the Douro, built by the Belgian company Société Willebroeck, might inspire us to build new bridges between our countries. Let me mention some of the many opportunities.
At this moment, our delegations are holding talks about a sustainable blue economy and are meeting with innovative digital start-ups. Our shared vision of a more sustainable and innovative economy can and will produce concrete results. Another opportunity lies in social entrepreneurship, combining social objectives with real job creation and profitability. Let us provide our social entrepreneurs with the tools to develop their projects across borders. Thirdly and finally, we belong to Europe, but our horizons stretch out into Africa. Portugal and Belgium share a history, considerable expertise and genuine commitment to our relationship with Africa. We are both ideally placed to deepen economic relations and investments with that continent and to give the new alliance with Africa a solid start.
Reflecting on some of the opportunities for co-operation, I had almost forgotten that we are approaching the end of our visit to the magnificent “Terra Lusa”. We have been welcomed by yourself and by your citizens, with great professionalism, sincere enthusiasm and generous friendship. We have truly felt at home, and I wholeheartedly thank you for that. I regret just one thing: that our trip to Portugal could only last for three days, rather than three weeks !
Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to raise your glass to the health of the President of Portugal.