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Portugal Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The current loose governing alliance between the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista: PS), left-wing Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda: BE), and Unitary Democratic Union (Coligação Democrática Unitária: CDU) has proved resilient despite divergent ideological positions. This stability has reflected a benign external environment and sustained economic growth. We project a moderate deceleration in GDP growth from 2.0% in 2018 to 1.7% in 2019, but this is unlikely to change fundamental relationships within the governing alliance. Prior to a general election in October 2019, the three alliance members are increasingly likely to seek to differentiate themselves to boost their electoral popularity. In particular, BE is likely to argue for increased social spending and against austerity, while all three parties will claim credit for expected declines in unemployment. The governing alliance is unlikely to separate, but infighting will probably make legislation more contentious, slowing policy implementation. The fragmented political landscape and imminence of an election potentially allow space for a new populist nationalist party to emerge, as in various other EU member states and most recently in the Spanish regional elections in Andalucía. However, without high levels of Euroscepticism or sizeable migratory inflows, there are currently no strong indicators suggesting a significant upsurge in populist nationalism. Opinion polling in late 2018 suggested that the PS would be the leading party, but without a majority. In that scenario, a new governing alliance characterised by continuity is the likeliest outcome. The main risk to the economic outlook stems from a deteriorating external environment, while banks' asset quality, profitability, and capital buffers remain under pressure from elevated impairment. We do not expect Portuguese sovereign bond yields to increase substantially despite the ending of the European Central Bank's (ECB) asset purchase programme in December 2018, with Portugal gaining weight within ECB reinvestment flows. Nevertheless, borrowing costs will gradually trend upwards in 2019. © 2018, IHS Markit Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Last update: January 5, 2019

Operational Outlook

Portugal’s benign social climate, low crime rate, and high security standards mean that it offers a generally positive operational environment. The country continues to benefit from previous reforms that aimed to improve education levels, contain nominal wage growth, reduce public-sector bureaucracy, improve infrastructure, and expedite the creation and closure of companies. Excessive bureaucracy remains a problem, however, as does corruption in public works contracts. The PS’s rollback of austerity and privatisation have reduced the likelihood of widespread industrial action, although isolated sectoral strikes over wages and conditions continue to affect ports, marine cargo, railways, and the public sector.

Last update: January 15, 2019

Terrorism

Moderate

Portugal does not face a high terrorism threat, either domestic or international, and there are no indications that this will change over the 12-month outlook. No group that advocates political violence is currently present in the country. The most credible terrorism threat is the possibility of a low-capability attack by a lone actor. Although unlikely, such an attack would probably come from jihadist militants. The most likely targets would be state institutions and foreign embassies in Lisbon and public places most frequented by foreign tourists.

Last update: January 15, 2019

War Risks

The risk of inter-state war is likely to remain low. The country’s principal diplomatic disputes are with neighbouring Spain over uninhabited islands in the Atlantic (Olivenza and the Savage Islands; known as ‘Ilhas Selvagens’ in Portuguese), fishing rights, and environmental concerns. Nonetheless, the strong ongoing commercial relationship between the two, coupled with their shared membership of the EU and NATO, mean any disputes are highly likely to be addressed at the political and diplomatic levels rather than through armed conflict. Beyond Europe, Portugal’s ties with its former colonies including Angola are likely to remain stable overall.

Last update: January 15, 2019

Social Stability

Moderate

Risks of social instability have declined under the current PS administration, largely thanks to the economic recovery and the end of Portugal’s bailout programme in 2014. The current centre-left administration continues to ease austerity and has increased social welfare spending, most recently in its 2019 budget. Such moves have largely eradicated the anti-austerity disturbances evident under the previous administration. Disputes over pay and conditions among transport and public sector workers are likely to ignite occasional protests, especially in the run-up to October 2019 elections. However, these remain small and almost always peaceful.

Last update: January 15, 2019

Health Risk

Elevated

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers entering the country from an endemic zone and wishing to travel to the Azores or Madeira islands.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B : a vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio : a booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: November 28, 2013

Natural Risks

Very high

Portugal is struck each year by a number of forest fires, some of which cause significant damage. Always obey safety instructions issued by authorities. From June 1st to September 30th, it is strictly forbidden to create fire in forest zones. This interdiction includes camp fires, barbeques, fireworks and firecrackers, matches, candles, and cigarettes. It is also forbidden to smoke on the roads crossing forest areas.

Furthermore, there is a substantial risk of earthquakes in the country; in 1755, Lisbon was destroyed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, which was responsible for the deaths of nearly 100,000 people. Moreover Portugal as well as Acores and Madera can be subject to dangerous storms.

Beach goers should be aware that ocean currents along Portugal's coasts can be dangerously strong. It is advised to strictly follow advise provided by authorities; a fine of EUR 55 is imposed for swimming when a beach flag is red or yellow.  

Last update: February 13, 2018

Transportation

Moderate

The quality of public transportation is high. However, it is necessary to be vigilant due to the presence of pickpockets on public transport, especially the Lisbon tramway system (electricos number E25 and E28).

The Portuguese motorway network is in good condition. Most of the country is connected by physical roads, except in very remoted areas or in historical centers. The toll system is entirely electronic. After taking a picture of the license plate, the payment can be done by direct debit or in a post office. This last option is only possible if the license plate is Portuguese. If you are driving a vehicle with a foreign license plate, it is necessary to consult the Portuguese toll website.

Driving in the Acores can be challenging due to the narrow paved streets, blind curves and herds of livestock on countryside roads. Unlike continental Portugal, in the Acores, toll payments cannot be made directly. Violations of road regulations are registered by radar and sent to the offender by mail.

Buses and taxis are reliable. It is advised to check the price of a taxi ride on the meter before paying. It is recommended not to use informal taxi companies. In the Acores, taxis do not have meters: the fare is based on a starting fare price plus an indicated kilometric rate. Buses are inexpensive. The services start at 07:00 and usually finish at 20:00 depending on the destination.

Portugal is served by five international airports: Acores - João Paulo II airport (PDL), Faro (FAO), Lisbon - Humberto Delgado airport (LIS) -, Madera - Cristiano-Ronaldo airport (FNC) and Porto - Porto-Francisco Sá-Carneiro airport (OPO)-.

The Acores (PDL) and Madera (FNC) airports are subject to temporary closures due to strong winds.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Practical Information

Climate

Portugal has a Mediterranean climate in the south and an oceanic climate in the north.

The average annual temperature inland is 13°C in the north and 18°C in the south. Springs and summers are generally sunny while autumns are rainy and windy. In the winter temperatures can fall very low in the north of the country (-12°C) while being very high in the summer in the south (44°C). Coastal regions have a milder climate, with temperatures fluctuating between -2°C on the coldest winter mornings to up to 37°C during the summer.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +351
Police: 112
Fire Dept.: 112
Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: January 21, 2014