Portugal and Sweden have diplomatic and commercial relations dating back to the 17th century. Today, Portugal is on the list of the 30 largest export markets to Sweden, and both countries share concerns about digital and climate change, as well as the importance of a free and well-functioning European internal market operation. Culturally, the Swedish Ambassador to Portugal, Helena Pilsas, says that the two countries can still get to know each other better.
How do you characterise the political and diplomatic relationship existing between these two countries?
Portugal and Sweden have longstanding and excellent relations, celebrating 380 years. In 1641 a diplomatic mission was sent from Portugal to Sweden in order to i a negotiate a bilateral trade agreement which was concluded successfully. Today the co-operation is both bilateral and multilateral covering a wide range of areas.
An important part of our co-operation is our partnership as members of the European Union where we share fundamental values and are like-minded on many issues. One example is the Social Summit that was held in Porto during the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union in the spring of 2021. The first Social Summit, focusing on issues related to the labour market and sustainable growth was held in Göteborg (Gothenburg) in Sweden in 2017.Portugal and Sweden also put emphasis on the importance of multilateral co-operation, free trade and a well-functioning inner market. Other examples of areas of joint interest are climate related issues and digital and green transition.
What is the importance of the swedish community to Portugal and the portuguese community to Sweden?
Co-operation between countries becomes even stronger when it includes different actors and angles, also the local level, companies, organizations and people. It has been very interesting to meet with many members of the Swedish community here. Some have been for several decades and others have arrived more recently. Many have talked about how warmly welcomed they have felt here.
The Embassy maintains an active dialogue with the other Swedish entities here; the Portuguese-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, the Swedish School, SWEA, an international organization for Swedish women abroad, that has a branch in Lisbon and another on the Algarve, as well as the Swedish Club. Our four honorary consuls are also important bridges in the co-operation between Portugal and Sweden.
Portugal and Sweden are culturally distinct. What projects and actions are taking place to ensure that these two countries get to know each other better?
I think that there are differences but also many similarities. Portugal is very popular in Sweden and it is my impression that Sweden has a very good trade mark in Portugal. However we could get to know each other better.
Culture can play an important part in this. I have for example had the opportunity to participate in discussions at theatres here which I have found very rewarding. Ingmar Bergman´s “Scenes from a Marriage” was staged in Lisbon last summer and more recently a modern version of August Strindberg´s “Miss Julie” was performed in Porto. There we had very interesting exchanges about the role of the family, gender equality, transformations in the society and much more.
How important is Portugal for Sweden, in what regards to the development of new business and partnerships, and Swedish imports from Portugal?
Portugal is on the list of the 30 major export markets for Sweden. In 2021 the Swedish exports to Portugal amounted to 8 billion Swedish crowns and the imports from Portugal to Sweden to 6,1 billion Swedish crowns. The Portuguese Swedish Chamber of Commerce has around 100 members, large global companies as well as smaller newcomers. Portugal is attractive for Swedish companies i a as a member of the EU, aiming for innovation, green and digital transition.
What future projetcs are being developed and planned, in which the Swedish Embassy in Portugal takes part, which you would like to highlight?
The first one is preparing for the Swedish Presidency of the EU in the spring of 2023 when we look forward to working together with Portugal and the other member countries of the EU.
Another is the Web Summit in November of 2022 where we expect a strong presence of Swedish companies and participants.
There will also be general elections in Sweden on 11 September which are important for the Embassy to prepare for.
However my term in Portugal will come to an end in the summer after five years. I will leave with gratitude and com saudades!
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