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中国株レポート
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新興成長国基礎データ
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Geography

The Portuguese Republic has an area of 92,000 sq.km, including the Azores and Madeira, of which 36% is agricultural and 39% forestry (1985).

Demography

In 1992 the population was 9.9 million and about 32% of the population is urbanised. The main urban centres are concentrated on the Atlantic coast around Lisbon, population 2,131,000 and Oporto (1,695,000). The population growth rate is estimated to be 0.7% a year. Approximately 4 million Portuguese nationals live abroad, mostly in France, Brazil, South Africa and the USA, seeking better employment and living standards due to the relatively low level prevailing in Portugal.

Education is compulsory up to the age of 14, but many leave before this and more than 40% of Portuguese children fail to complete their education. As a result, the illiteracy rate of 13% is the highest in the EC. Only one in ten Portuguese school leavers goes on to higher education, compared with an EC average of one in three.

In 1990 the labour force totalled 4,716,000 of which 17% were engaged in agriculture, 25% in manufacturing and 8% in construction. Since 1980 most growth has been in the services sector, accounting for 45% of the total labour force. During 1987-91 employment picked up by 439,000 as the economy expanded.

History and Political Situation

During the 15th century Portual occupied the centre of the world stage with discoveries leading to the establishment of an extensive and wealthy trading empire, beginning with the opening of a trade route to India by Bartolemeu Dias in 1487. During the 16th century the sprawling empire continued to expand, but from the 17th century the economy declined steadily.

In the first half of the 18th century, the discovery of large quantities of gold in Brazil financed a second period of opulence. A second empire, replacing that of the dwindling mercantile empire, was established, based on exploitation of Brazil's resources. The Napoleonic invasions led to a weakened monarchy and subsequently, in 1822, to the declaration of independence by Brazil.

Republicanism grew more popular in the early years of this century, culminating in the assassination of the king and his son in 1908. After a military coup in 1910, the monarchy was replaced by a republican government. The following sixteen years were characterised by governmental instability and a worsening economy, as Portugal paid a high price for defending its colonies in the lead up to the First World War. In 1926 a second military revolt ended parliamentary rule. From 1928 to 1968 power was placed in the hands of a civilian Antonio Salazar, who attempted to establish the "Estado Novo" adopting anti-liberal and, initially, anti-capitalist policies. Politically, he wanted to preserve Portugal as a rural and religious society, where industrialisation, democracy and other modernising would be excluded. As the country continued to under-perform economically, it was obvious by the 1960s that inward looking isolation was becoming detrimental. In 1974, after 6 years of Salazarist government under Marcero Caetano, support for the regime collapsed and a military coup was mounted by army officers and groups representing the majority of the Portuguese people expressing dissatisfaction with the continuing wars in Africa.

A revolutionary period began in 1975, and Portugal has since had 17 governments in 14 years. Up to 1985 the country suffered continued political instability, and problems of economic structure and lack of international competitiveness were left unsolved. Immediately following the 1974 revolution, military and civilian leftists nationalised the major economic sectors, and the colonies were granted independence. A new Constitution was drafted by the Constitutional Assembly (but not implemented until 1982).

Over the next ten years early left-wing policies were gradually blunted, and the political mood swung back to the centre. In 1985, Anibal Cavaco Silbia became leader of the Social Democrats(PSD) and after the general election that year formed a military centre right government relying initially on the support of the opposition. However, the 1986 presidential election saw Mario Soares, a former socialist Prime Minister and leader of the Socialists (PS), installed as the new President, succeeding General Ramalho Eanes. In the same year, with improved economic conditions, Portugal joined the EC.

In a general election in July 1987, Cavaco Silva won a four year mandate as Prime Minister and has presided over a period of exceptionally rapid change and heady economic growth. The government, very much dominated by the prime minister, has initiated various successful and popular reforms, aimed at encouraging private enterprise and improving state finances. These include : reform and simplification of the tax system and commercial law; liberalisation and reform of the credit system and the financial markets; privatisation of the huge state enterprise sector; and more limited reform of the labour laws. The government has also demonstrated competent handling of a massive physical and human infrastructure investment programme, inspired and part-financed by the EC. As a result of these pro-business measures, foreign investment has grown enormously, contributing greatly to economic and employment growth.

Cavaco Silva's impressive economic record - except on inflation - and his commanding personality enabled the PSD to unexpectedly pull off a second convincing win in the October 1991 elections, when the party gained 50.4% of the vote translating into a 42 seat majority in the Assembly. The Socialists did better than the previous time, but not nearly well enough, while the other parties fared disastrously.

Economy

Following the stagnation of the Salazar years, then the near chaos in the first years after the 1974 revolution, which required two interventions from the IMF and were characterised by violent swings between growth and recession, the stable political base since 1985 has ushered in a period of unprecedented economic progress and opportunity. Portugal in 1985 was admittedly starting from a very low base after 50 years of neglect, and despite the rapid economic growth of recent years remains the poorest country in the EC. The young population, and high agricultural components of the work force provide a partial explanation.

As in many other developing countries, the government is undertaking structural reform, creating a more open economy and expanding the industrial base. While Portuguese industry is still largely based on the traditional textiles, clothing and footwear, cork, wood, food and wines, there has been heavy investment in recent years in the chemical, paper, mineral, electrical and motor component areas, partly as a result of EC accession, which is swinging the country away from its image of a low cost, low technology manufacturer. Hand in hand with the private sector investment has been a major push by the government to improve Portugal's infrastructure. Indeed the government remains acutely aware of the need to modernise further and to integrate the economy with the rest of the EC. With EC help and with a favourable external background, it has been dismantling the central controls which impeded a free market, and as a part of the process is returning many public sector companies to private hands. Portugal has been a major beneficiary of the regional development policies of the EC, with visible results.

Portugal's still heavy dependence on imports has led to a structural trade deficit, which the government attempts to restrain by operating a crawling peg system of currency depreciation, based on the inflation differential between Portugal and her trading partners. As this has come down to relatively low levels the rates of depreciation have been quite gentle. The growth in tourism results in a small surplus on invisibles, and remittances from the 4 million Portuguese working abroad allow the current account to remain in broad balance.

There has been a shift towards the services sector in the past decade with a corresponding decline in the contribution of agriculture to the Portuguese economy. However, in the last six years or so industry has also done very well, notably due to foreign investment in the electronics, automotive and paper sectors. The dominant and more traditional textile and clothing sectors have shown a much more uneven performance, although some companies have done well. Construction has regained its important role after shrinking for many years, due to huge EC related infrastructure investment, especially in roads, as well as to much new factory building. Nevertheless, tourism and textiles remain the economic mainstays while financial and retail services are booming. This is due to market liberalisation and the general modernisation programme under way.

Portugal continues to outperform most of the OECD, but serious problems are looming. By the mid-1990s, when the protection periods agreed at the time of EC entry in 1986 run out, Portugal will face crisis in three areas: agriculture, textiles and retail banking. All three sections are hopelessly overmanned and vulnerable to external competition (from outside the EC in the case of textiles). However, rapid investment has been under way for the last five years and is likely to continue. EC structural adjustment funds are making a visible difference to Portugal's infrastructure, and this flow is expected to continue at a high rate for the remainder of the decade. Indeed, the sums requiring investment - about $ 10 million per day - are running at a level which it may be difficult to spend efficiently. Nevertheless, the heavy investments in infrastructure and productivity, together with private sector investment, should allow Portugal a good chance to adjust between now and 1999, the planned latest date for European Economic and monetary Union. In the shorter-term, the demise of the ERM has permitted a rapid fall in Portuguese interest rates, which must be regarded as a positive development in accelerating the flow of investment projects.

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