Ekonomske analize
Portugal

Portugal

Population 10,4 million
GDP 19117 US$
A4
Country risk assessment
A2
Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2014 2015  2016(f) 2017(f)
GDP growth (%) 0,9 1,6 1,2 1,3
Inflation (yearly average) (%) -0,2 0,5 0,7 1.1
Budget balance (% GDP) -7,2 -4,4 -2,5 -2.1
Current account balance (% GDP) 0.1 0,4 0.1 0.5
Public debt (% GDP) 130,6 129.0 130.2 129.5

 

(f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • High-quality infrastructure
  • Tourist attractiveness
  • Start of sector and geographic diversification, research and innovation capacities
  • Lower labour costs and reform effort

WEAKNESSES

  • Limited size of the manufacturing industry, specialising in low and average value-added sectors (fuel, food, chemicals, automobiles, clothing, metals)
  • High level of public and private debt
  • Rigidity of the labour market and lack of domestic competition, insufficient investment
  • Deterioration in the quality of bank portfolios

RISK ASSESSMENT

Weak investment is impeding growth

Economic activity slowed in 2016 due to a loss of momentum attributable to a contraction in investment, particularly in construction, and a slowdown in private consumption and exports (despite a rebound in sales abroad in the 3rd quarter). Growth is expected to remain modest in 2017 due to a very tentative recovery in investment and a slight loss of momentum in private consumption, a weakness that is expected to result from continued high levels of corporate and household debt, weak credit, an inadequate fall in unemployment, rising energy prices and an environment which has become more uncertain in the Euro zone. Exports are expected to increase only slightly, mainly because of rising wages, which will affect competitiveness.

In this context, inflation is expected to remain contained, despite the rise in oil prices.

The current account balance returned to positive territory in 2013 and has remained in equilibrium since. This should still be the case in 2017 thanks to tourism and manufacturing sales, although growth outside the EU (Angola) and fuel sales remain sluggish.

 

Corporate and government debt remain high; banks are struggling from the burden of non-performing loans

Business failures, primarily affecting the wholesale and retail trade, as well as the property sector, declined slightly in 2016, a trend which is likely to continue in 2017. Although declining, corporate debt remains high (152% of GDP in mid-2016) and is dampening investment, also hampered by cumbersome administrative procedures, ineffective judicial proceedings (insolvency regime in particular) and the lack of competition in professional services.

The banking sector remains very fragile, still burdened by the weight of non-performing loans (about 12% of all lending) and posting low profitability. This concerns mostly low-productivity firms in the non-tradable goods sector and limits the ability of banks to lend to viable firms, while making the financial system vulnerable to shocks. In a context of low inflation, low growth and low interest rates, the sector is struggling to generate the profits which would allow it to strengthen its equity margins. The government has already had to intervene to bail out a number of banks in recent years, including, most recently, Banif. The capital requirements of Caixa Geral de Depósitos and potential losses related to the sale of Novo Banco, established in 2014 from the ruins of Banco Espirito Sento, are likely to require the injection of additional public funds.

Although the country posted an excessive budget deficit in 2015, partly related to the rescue of Banif, Portugal avoided European financial sanctions. The country obtained a one-year extension to bring its deficit below 3% of GDP, which was made possible by freezing some government expenditure (intermediate consumption, investment). The continued recovery and a specific transaction (repayment of a guarantee granted to a bank) should help further reduce the deficit in 2017. However, the heavy burden of public debt (130% of GDP) continues to generate substantial risks regarding the sustainability of the debt. The debt dynamics are likely to remain sensitive to macroeconomic shocks and to a potential underestimation of the cost of rescuing the banking sector.

 

An unprecedented alliance rules the country

The Portuguese left was united during the no-confidence motion in November 2015, bringing down the centre-right government one month after the parliamentary elections. António Costa's Socialist Party has come to an agreement with the Left Bloc, the Communist Party and the Greens, and has since governed the country with the support of these groups in the Assembly (although they have refused to become part of the government). The prime minister took office on a promise to break with austerity (civil service wages were increased in early 2016, caps on pensions removed and the minimum wage raised) but made a commitment to respect European budgetary rules. This unprecedented alliance appears fragile but, for the moment, the electoral agreement was broken only very temporarily, in late March 2016 on a foreign policy issue. The Prime Minister has so far managed to balance the demands of the European Commission and those of his political allies, but they are urging him to negotiate over debt relief, which could complicate his task.

 

Last update : January 2017

Payment

 

Cheques too widely used and it is common to establish payment plans with post-dated cheques. They are payable on presentation and, if the bank account is not provisioned, they borne by the bank until the maximum amount of 150,00 € . In the case of bounced cheques, a individual person or a company is inhibited of receiving and issuing further cheques until the maximum term of two years (or, by court decision, by the maximum period of six years).

 

Bills of exchange are commonly used for commercial transactions inPortugal. In order to be valid, however, they are subject to stamp duty whose rate is set each year in the country's budget. The current rate of stamp duty is 0.5% of the amount of the bill, with a minimum of one Euro.

A bill of exchange is generally deemed independent of the contract to which it relates.

 

While creditors, in the event of payment default, are not required to issue a protest notice before bringing an action to court, such a notice can be used to publicise payment default and pressure the debtor to honour his obligations, albeit belatedly.

 

In the event of default, cheques, bills of exchange and promissory notes offer effective guarantees to creditors as they are enforceable instruments in law and entitle holders to initiate “executory proceedings”. Under this process, creditors may petition the court to issue a writ of execution and notify the debtor of such an order. Where the debtor still fails to pay up, creditors may request the court officer to issue an attachment order against debtor’s property.

 

Electronic transfers via the SWIFT network are also widely used by Portuguese companies and are a quick, reliable and cheap way of payment.

 

If the buyer fails to order a transfer, the legal remedy consists in instituting ordinary proceedings, or summary proceedings based simply on an unpaid invoice.

 

Debt collection

 

Out-of-court collection starts with the debtor being sent 4 demands for the payment of the principal amount. Interests can be requested to debtor but are normally difficult to collect inPortugal.

 

Since 1st October 2004, interest rate set henceforth by decree of the Treasury Department, will be published in theDiário da República during the first fortnight of January and July each year and be applicable for the six coming months. Unless the parties have agreed different interest rates in their commercial agreement, the default interest rates to be considered are the above mentioned

 

The order to pay procedure (Injunção) applicable to commercial claims considered uncontested – and, since 19 March 2003, whatever the amount involved – is heard by the court in whose jurisdiction the obligation is enforceable or the court where the debtor is domiciled. Since September 2005, the injunction may be served as an electronic file.

 

The National Injunctions Office (Balcão Nacional de Injunções / BNI) located inOporto, has exclusive jurisdiction throughout the country with the electronic processing of the order to pay procedure.

 

Such action must be performed under electronic form when it is instituted by a lawyer.

Now, the majority of orders to pay procedure are electronically submitted to the BNI.

 

For disputed claims, creditors may initiate formal and costly “declarative proceedings” (acção declarativa), to obtain a ruling establishing their right to payment. They must then initiate the "executive proceedings" (acção executiva) to enforce the court’s ruling.

 

Under the revised Code of Civil Procedure, any original deed established by private seal (i.e. any written document issued to a supplier) in which the buyer unequivocally acknowledges his debt is henceforth deemed an instrument enforceable by law. Since the 1st of September 2013, with the recent revision of the Code of Civil Process, the written signed payment plans can no longer be used to initiate “executory proceedings” unless they are recognized by notary.

 

Recourse in civil matters allows the judge to adapt the procedure to the needs of each case and accelerate the pace of the proceedings.

As well, a decree-law seeks to improve the process of the executive proceedings by suppression of some procedural formalities and by a better distribution of tasks between the judge of execution and the servant of execution (agente de execução).

 

In the scope of the recent restructuring of the courts in Portugal since 01 September of 2014, it was created more courts specified in commercial issues. The Courts of first instance were reduced to 23 Courts (in each capital of district) and there are 21 sections specialized in commercial issues called“secção de Comercio” (Secções de Competência Especializada).  These sections deal specifically with insolvencies and matters related to commercial companies. It was created too 16 sections specialized in Enforcement Procedures (“Secções Especializadas”).

insolvency trend Portugal 2015
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