Portugal Plans Loans to Help Firms Adapt to a No-Deal Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- The Portuguese government will provide financing to help companies that need to adapt to a possible no-deal Brexit by changing their internal procedures or diversifying export markets.

The initial amount available for these loans is 50 million euros ($57 million), Portuguese Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira said in Lisbon on Tuesday at a presentation of contingency measures. A no-deal Brexit could add costs for companies trading goods with the U.K., and Portugal will provide incentives for studies on the impact that Britain’s split from the European Union may have on individual companies’ exports.

Brexit could trigger a drop of between 15 percent and 26 percent in Portugal’s exports to the U.K. in the medium-to-long term, according to a study released in October by the Business Confederation of Portugal. It could also knock 0.5 percent to 1 percent off the nation’s gross domestic product, the study showed.

Tourism has boosted the Portuguese economy, which in 2017 posted its strongest growth since 2000, helping the country’s minority Socialist government lower the jobless rate and manage the budget deficit. Tourism represents about 14 percent of Portugal’s GDP, and the British rank as the biggest group of visitors.

“We’ll try to ensure we keep the flow of tourists,” Siza Vieira said. The government plans a campaign to promote Portugal’s image as a friend of the U.K., as well as measures to assist British tourists at airports in Faro and Funchal so that passport-control procedures are as simple as possible, he said.

Portugal said on Jan. 11 that it won’t require that U.K. tourists get a visa if there’s a no-deal Brexit, and that it wants reciprocal treatment on this and other measures. There are 22,431 Britons who are permanent residents in Portugal, and 22 percent of all passengers who arrive at Portuguese airports are British.

About 302,000 Portuguese citizens are registered at the country’s consular services in the U.K., including 245,000 in the London region, according to Portugal’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

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