Portugal is a “totally different situation” than Greece, Ricardo Salgado, chairman of Espirito Santo Financial Group [ESFG], a financial services holding company that does business primarily in Portugal, told CNBC on Tuesday.
“Greece is much more oriented to the Eastern part of Europe, to the Balkans,” said Salgado, who also serves as director at NYSE Euronext. “Portugal is in the crossroads of the southern emerging countries.”
While Portugal is exposed to new markets like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, said Salgado, the Iberian country also enjoys close economic relationships with Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Our exporters move rapidly into those regions, and today, we have an increase in exports of over 14 percent,” he said. “We are exporting very well— engineering services, construction service, software service— and goods from machinery and agriculture.”
Unlike Greece, Portugal plans to allocate billions of dollars into public projects including a national airport and high-speed rail linking it to Spain. And, at 77 percent of GDP, Portugal’s debt is less than many other European countries, said Salgado.
This comes at a time when investors remain worried about European insolvency, especially the PIIGS, an acronym referring to five troubled European nations including Portugal. Just over the weekend, neighboring Spain seized a failing bank.
ESFG also has banking interests in France, Switzerland and Dubai.