On February 25, the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao) held a Spring Festival Reception at the Grand Hyatt Beijing Hotel, with more than 200 guests.
Dignitaries attending the reception included: China Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr Wang Bingnan; the Secretary for Economy and Finance of the Macao SAR, Mr Leong Vai Tac; former Vice Ministers of Commerce of China, Mr An Min and Mr Chen Jian, who helped establish Forum Macao; the respective Ambassadors to Beijing from the Portuguese-speaking Countries; representatives of the follow-up action committee from the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China that liaises with Forum Macao; former secretaries-general of the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao; representatives of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Offices and the Departments of Commerce of relevant provinces and municipalities; representatives of the Co-operation and Development Fund between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries; representatives of member companies of the Chinese Council of the China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Federation of Entrepreneurs; representatives of trade associations; and representatives of academic institutions and of the media.
The Secretary-General of the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao Ms Xu Yingzhen delivered a welcoming speech at the reception. China’s Vice Minister Wang; Secretary Leong; and Mr Malam Sambú, senior member of the Portuguese-speaking Countries’ Diplomatic Corps in China as well as Ambassador to Beijing of Guinea-Bissau, respectively delivered speeches during the ceremony.
2018 was a special year, marking celebrations for the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up; the 5th anniversary of the launch of the “Belt and Road” initiative, and the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Forum Macao. In 2020, the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao) will be held. Vice Minister Wang pointed out that – as provider of the only multilateral economic and trade cooperation mechanism with language as its very basis – in the last 16 years Forum Macao has played an indispensable role in the promotion of economic and trade exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, achieving remarkable successes.
Trade between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries reached a new record high of US$147.35 billion in 2018, a 13-fold increase since Forum Macao was established. Meanwhile there has been a notable 130-fold expansion in direct Chinese investment in Portuguese-speaking Countries. Within the Forum Macao framework, Mr Wang identified 20 areas of intervention as most promising. As well as more conventional areas such as intergovernmental cooperation, tourism, culture, and public health, there were also emerging sectors – including maritime cooperation, environmental protection, capacity production – being added. This development demonstrated the interdependence between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries and the realisation of mutual benefits and gains, said Mr Wang.
Secretary Leong emphasised that, following the recently announced “Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”, Macao will hasten its integration into the national development guidelines, pursuing new ways of achieving its transformation into a Commercial and Trade Cooperation Service Platform between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. The city will strive to implement the new measures announced by Forum Macao and its “Strategic Plan (2020-2023)”, to boost links between the China and Portuguese-speaking Countries’ platform and the Belt and Road initiative, while moving forward with several tasks, namely meticulously conducting preparations for the 6th Ministerial Conference. Mr Leong also mentioned the benefits of interaction between sectors such as Macao’s distinctive financial services sector, the conventions and exhibitions industry and other sectors and activities; the promotion of exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries; bilateral cooperation in capacity production, investment and trade; and human resource training, and cultural exchanges.
Ambassador Sambú said last year’s celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Forum Macao confirmed the success and positive work of this cooperation mechanism, on which all member states place great importance. He thanked the Permanent Secretariat for its efforts in implementing the Strategic Plan, the new measures announced by China, and the documents signed at the last Ministerial Conference. Looking ahead to next year’s drafting of the next Strategic Plan, Mr Sambúexpressed confidence that it will yield even better results than had been achieved in previous years, taking economic and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries to an even higher level.
Secretary General Ms Xu reiterated that the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao will maintain, as always, close collaboration with all stakeholders, while seeking to take full advantage of all upcoming development opportunities. The integration of Macao into national development guidelines will be actively promoted through economic and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, she said. Forum Macao’s active role in international cultural exchanges will create fresh opportunities for the future development of cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, seeking to make the most of Macau’s location as an integral part of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and of the “Belt and Road” initiative, said Ms Xu.
The representatives of various institutions, trade associations and companies attending the Spring Festival Reception highly praised the achievements – as showcased during the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Forum Macao– of the cooperation mechanism; as well as the works completed last year. They also took the opportunity to exchange views on the transformation of Macao into a Commercial and Trade Cooperation Service between China and Portuguese-speaking Countriesas a way to strengthen economic and trade cooperation between Mainland China, Macao and Portuguese-speaking Countries, while promoting the sustainable and diversified development of Macao’s economy.