Macao and Portuguese-speaking Countries have maintained cultural and other relations for centuries. Their administrative and legal systems share the same origin: Portugal. They also share the Portuguese language. In Macao’s case Portuguese is an official language of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) alongside Chinese.

Macao residents are used to experiencing the culture and traditions of Mainland China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. In addition, Macao’s business people have a good level of knowledge on markets in China and in Portuguese-speaking Countries. These advantages contribute to enhancing Macao’s role as a service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries.

Four Ministerial Conferences of Forum Macao have successfully been held so far, thanks to the support of China’s Central Government, of the Portuguese-speaking Countries and of the Macao SAR Government.

The establishment in Macao of the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries – also known as Forum Macao – and of Forum Macao’s Training Centre, has helped enhance Macao’s role as such a service platform.

Macao’s service platform role is also enhanced by the territory’s participation in the Fund for Co-operation and Development between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries and the launch of the “Three Centres” initiative.

The “Three Centres” is a strategy to help Macao become respectively: a business and trade service centre for the SMEs in Portuguese-speaking Countries; a distribution centre for Portuguese-speaking Countries’ goods; and a convention and exhibition centre for economic and trade cooperation between China, Macao and Portuguese-speaking Countries.

Since the establishment of the Macao SAR, the territory’s economy has witnessed a rapid development, ensuring a good quality of life for its residents, as well as stability, peace and harmony between Macao’s different communities. All these have been achieved via the principles of “One country, two systems”, “Macao ruled by its people” and a “High level of autonomy,” as well as other principles established under Macao’s Basic Law.

Since the Macao SAR’s establishment, international recognition for it has been growing. Additionally, in accordance with a number of policies and initiatives the Macao Government has been committed to positioning Macao as a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.

The policies and initiatives include: the 12th Five-Year Plan of China’s Central Government; the Framework for Development and Reform Planning for the Pearl River Delta Region; the Framework Agreement on Co-operation between Guangdong and Macao; the Common Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the Mainland and Macao; as well as other guidelines aimed at developing the SAR.

The Macao Government has also been accelerating the development of Macao as a Service Platform for Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, by actively taking part in regional and international co-operation initiatives, including co-operation with Portuguese-speaking Countries.

Several Macao Government services have been involved in that process. They include: the Support Office of the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao; the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM); the Macao Economic Services; the Macao Government Tourism Office; the Cultural Affairs Bureau; and the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM).

For historical reasons, Macao has sustained regular contact with Portuguese-speaking Countries, the European Union and Latin-American Countries in fields including economic matters, culture, law and trade. Macao has also positioned itself as a centre for promoting the teaching of Chinese languages and of Portuguese, enabling people to become fluent in a language not native to them.

Some Macao companies have already established long-term trade partnerships with Portuguese-speaking Countries, as Macao has been strongly encouraged to play a long-term role as a bridge and platform for such trade.

The Macao SAR Government has always tried to stimulate and support the efforts of small- and medium-sized enterprises in their co-operation with Portuguese-speaking Countries. It has encouraged companies to optimise the use of advantages offered by the Macao market, such as access to professionals – especially in the services sector – that are bilingual in Chinese and Portuguese. Staff with such skills can be especially useful in services such as: legal advice and consultancy; and for translation services relating to the agriculture, fisheries and natural resources sectors; to language teaching; cultural services; banking; insurance; engineering; electricity; pharmaceuticals; meat processing; logistics; health services; telecommunications and broadcasting; construction; and information handling.

Companies also have opportunities to enter European markets via Portugal; to enter South American markets via Brazil; to approach African markets through Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique; and to enter the markets of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) via East Timor.

Macao has supported companies in their search for business partners in Mainland China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. Macao has done so by offering information and consultancy services to business communities, associations, to Macao-based lusophone trade chambers, as well as to firms in Portuguese-speaking Countries’ firms and Mainland China’ companies. It has also supported companies that organise events related to economic, trade and cultural matters.