About Us India-Portugal Relations

India – Portugal Relations

Historical Connections

  • Relations between India and Portugal date back to over 500 years when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama led a sea-faring expedition to Calicut (Kozhikode) in Kerala in May 1498, making him the first to discover a direct sea route between Europe and India, across the Atlantic Ocean and the African continent. This enabled Portugal to directly access the highly profitable Indian spice market and emerge as a dominant colonial trading power.
  • In1502 ADthe Portuguese established a trading centre at Kollam (formerly Quilon) in Kerala. They later acquired several other enclaves on the western coast including Diu, Daman, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Goa in 1510. Goa subsequently became the capital of the Portuguese activities in the Orient, which stretched from Malacca (Malaysia) in the east to Mozambique in the west.
  • Relations between India and Portugal began amicably in 1947 after India’s independence and diplomatic relations were established in 1949. However, they soon went into decline in 1950 after Portugal's dictator Antonio Salazar refused to surrender the Portuguese enclaves.Indian military action under Operation Vijay  liberated Goa on 19 December 1961, ending over 450 years of Portuguese rule. However, the strained diplomatic relations were restored following the Portuguese Carnation Revolution in April 1974 which overthrew Salazar’s Estado Novo. India and Portugal finally signed a treaty on 31 December 1974 on recognition of India’s sovereignty over Goa, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and related matters. The treaty came into force on 3 June 1975.
  • While relations were cordial, bilateral engagement was sluggish owing to Portugal’s preoccupation with restoring domestic political stability and integrating with the EU and India’s focus also on its region. The exchanges of presidential visits in 1990, 1992 and 1998, followed by the visit of PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lisbon in 2000 for the first India-EU Summit and the visit of Portuguese PM José Socrates to Delhi for the 8th India-EU Summit during the 2007 Portuguese Presidency of the EU provided the much needed momentum to contemporary relations. The bilateral relations really gathered steam with the reciprocal visits by PM António Costa and PM Narendra Modi in January and June 2017 respectively, followed by the visit of PM Costa in December 2019 and State Visit of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to India in February 2020.

Political Relations

  • India’s relations with Portugal are warm and friendly.Portugal views India as a vibrant pluralistic democracy, a major world economy, and an ancient civilisation with which it has close historical and cultural ties. Portugal has consistently supported India’s permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The idea of starting a India-EU Summit was mooted for the first time by Portugal when the current UNSG Antonio Guterres was Prime Minister in Portugal and the first India-EU Summit was subsequently held in Lisbon under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union in 2000. It was attended by PM Vajpayee.

High Level Exchanges

  • PM  Antonio Costavisited Indiafrom 7-12 January 2017 with a Ministerial and business delegation. PM Costa is the first Indian-origin Head of Government in the Western world. During the visit, 8 MoUs were signed in Defence, Agriculture, Marine Research, IT & Electronics, Startups, Renewable Energy, establishment of an ICCR Chair at the University of Lisbon etc. A Joint Stamp depicting dances of both countries was released to commemorate 500 years of diplomatic relations.  Portuguese novel Signo da Ira, set in Goa and authored by PM Costa’s father, was translated into English and released during the visit.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Portugal on June 24, 2017. During this first-ever standalone bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Portugal, 11 MoUs were signedin areas like Space, avoidance of double taxation, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Public Administration and Governance Reforms, Culture, Youth & Sports, Higher Education (IITs).
  • On 19 December 2019, PM Costa visited India to attend a meeting of the Organising Committee overseeing the 2-year global commemorations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (Bapu@150), set up by PM Modi.
  • Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousaaccompanied by three Ministers, Parliamentarians and business people visited India from February 13-16, 2020. 32 MOUs/ outcomes were signed. President Sousa visited Delhi, Mumbai and Goa.
  • From 12-14 September 2021, Minister of State for External Affairs (MoS) Meenakshi Lekhi paid an official visit to Portugal to review bilateral relations with her counterpart, Secretary of State (SoS) for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Francisco André, they signed the Bilateral Agreement on the Recruitment of Indian Citizens to Work in Portugal. The agreement is to establish an institutional mechanism for partnership and cooperation between India and Portugal on sending and receiving Indian workers through legal channels. Portugal is the first EU country with which India has signed a dedicated agreement on labour mobility; it is also the first such document signed by Portugal with a non-EU partner.

UN Security Council and Cooperation in Multilateral Fora

  • India and Portugal have actively supported each other for various candidatures at the United Nations and other multilateral forums, including for UNSC non-permanent seats (India in 2021-22 and Portugal for 2027-28). Mr António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, assumed office as UNSG on January 1, 2017.
  • India was formally accepted as an associate observer in the 13th CPLP summit held in Luanda on 17 July 2021. India’s formal application and proposed Action Plans for promotion of the Portuguese language were approved by the Council of Ministers' Meeting and formally endorsed at the Heads of States Summit.
  • On 8 May 2021, the first full-fledged India-EU leadership Summit was held under the EU Presidency of Portugal with the participation of PM Modi, the EC and European Council Presidents and all 27 EU member state leaders. The Summit was conducted in hybrid format owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ‘Joint Statement’ issued thereafter underlined the intention to boost cooperation in health security and pandemic crisis preparedness and response, especially in regard to Covid-19. It also addressed India-EU cooperation on issues like climate change, security, data protection, migration/mobility, modernisation and human rights. India and the EU vowed to resume trade talks, stalled since 2013 over market access issues. A virtual EU-India Business Roundtable with presence of PM Costa and CIM was held on 8 May, encompassing sector debates on climate, health and digitalisation.

Trade and Investment
•As per DGFT data, India-Portugal trade in FY 2020-21 amounted to $ 951.1 mn. Indian exports stood at $ 837.14 million and Portuguese exports at $113.96 mn.

  • Financial Year (April-March)
  • 2017-18
  • 2018-19
  • 2019-20
  • 2020-21
  • 2021-22*
  • 747.32
  • 743.27
  • 744.79
  • 837.14
  • 787.93
  • 190.15
  • 132.83
  • 141.82
  • 113.96
  • 109.83
  • 937.47
  • 876.09
  • 886.60
  • 951.10
  • 897.76
  • % GROWTH
  • -
  • -6.55
  • +1.20
  • 7.27
  • -

Figures in USD million: (Directorate-General of Foreign Trade - DGFT, India)
    *Data as of 27-01-2021, thus not encompassing the entire FY 2021-22

•As per the Portuguese national trade promotion agency AICEP, India -Portugal trade between January and November 2021 reached US$1.16 billion in 2021  indicating a significant revival of bilateral trade of which US$1,00 billion were Indian exports to Portugal and 0.16 billion were from Portuguese exports to India.
Major Indian exports to Portugal: Textiles and apparels including ready-made garments; agriculture products; metals; chemicals; plastic and rubber; footwear; machinery and appliances; leather and its articles; vehicles and transport materials.
Major Portuguese exports to India: Machinery and appliances; metals; minerals; plastic and rubber; chemicals; textiles and apparel; paper and pulp; wood and cork; optical and precision instruments.

  • Investments: Portugal ranks 51st in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India with total cumulative FDI equity inflows from 2000-2021 worth US$ 104.30 million (DPIIT; September 2021).  Major Portuguese companies present in India include Visabeira, Vision Box ( technology company), Portind Shoe (an ancillary of the Portuguese shoe manufacturer Soprefa); Martifer (metals); Efacec (industrial machinery, equipment and tools); and the Petrotec Group (retail petroleum and oil distribution industry).
  • Indian investments in Portugal are estimated in the range of up to US$ 450 million. Major Indian companies in Portugal include Generis, part of Aurobindo Pharma Group, MGM Group of hotels, Zomato, WIPRO, HCL, Sugee Group(real estate) etc.

• Potential areas for Portuguese companies in India include Infrastructure & Construction, Renewable Energy (especially solar and wind power), Footwear, Textiles, Tourism & Hospitality, Defence & Aerospace, IT & Electronics, Water & Waste management, Startups, Agriculture & Food Processing. The Portugal-India Business Hub (PIB Hub), a diaspora initiativehas been established for supporting bilateral business initiatives.
A Joint Economic Committee exists at the level of Ministers of State for Commerce from both sides. 5thJoint Committee Meeting took place in New Delhi on 8 April 2021. Bilateral Joint Working Groups are in such fields as: (i) IT &Electronics (ii) Renewable Energy; (iii) Defence; (iv) Agriculture and Allied Sector;
Defence Cooperation

  • India and Portugal signed the MoU in defence cooperationin January 2017.
  • Both the sides have regularly exchanged delegations and participated in the defence expos. A Portuguese defence delegation anchored by IdD participated in the DEFEXPO in Lucknow in February 2020.
  • The second round of Joint Working Group was held virtually in September 2021.

Science and Technology Cooperation

  • An Agreement for Cooperation in Science and Technology was signed in December 1998, establishing the Indo-Portuguese Joint Science & Technology Committee (JSTC). Every two years, the JSTC calls for research proposals and selects about 15 joint research projects in areas of mutual interest like Ocean Science, Biotechnology, Materials Science, IT, Nanotechnology, Chemical Sciences, and Engineering Sciences.
  • The 5th Joint Science and Technology Committee meeting was held in Lisbon (March 2017) and concluded a Programme of Cooperation including joint funding of 15 selected projects. As an outcome of this meeting, 3 joint workshopswere also held: in Marine Science (in July 2017 where ISRO, NIO and INCOIS from India participated), in Nanotechnology (October 2018 at the Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Braga where a delegation from JNCASR and IISc Bangaluru participated) and in Tissue Engineering (February, 2018 between the University of Minho and IIT, Kharagpur)

• A MoU for launching a €4 million joint fund for S&T research collaboration was signed on 1 March 2019 between the Department of Science and Technology and its Portuguese counterpart FCT. Nearly 422 proposals have been received by each side for15 funded slots which are being scrutinized by both sides. are now being evaluated. The proposals also include projects for Covid-19 related themes.
 • An India-Portugal Technology Summit was held virtually from 7-9 December 2020. The summit included thematic sessions on Healthtech, Cleantech, Energy, Climate Change Watertech, Agrotech, Space-Ocean Interactions and IT/ICT & Advanced technologies. Minister of Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences inaugurated the summit and the digital exhibition on 7 December that was also addressed by Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor.

Cultural Cooperation

  • A MOU on Cultural cooperation was signed on 24 June 2017 during PM Modi’s visit to Portugal. A large number of cultural performances, youth and literary exchanges, seminars, art exhibitions etc. have been held across Portugal.
  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, India@75- An initiative of the Government of India to commemorate 75 years of progressive India and its glorious history of it’s people, culture and achievements. Several events have been organized notably LEDTricolor Projection on the staue of King Joseph I located in the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon on India’s Independence day 2021, lectures on Yoga and Ayurveda, celebration of International day of Yoga, Gandhi Jayanti, Ekta Diwas, Mahaparinirvan Diwas, Parakram Diwas , Tagore birth anniversary etc commemorating the life and teaching of the great Indian leaders. A special iconic week was celebrated in the month of January 2022 showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage through art, dance, music, cusines etc.

Academic and Youth Exchanges

  • Regular academic exchanges were being held until the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions. Indian diaspora youth from Portugal have so far participated in the ‘Know India’ Programme and in the ‘Know Goa’ Programme. Under the framework of the MoU in the field of Youth Exchange & Sports, a 10-member Indian youth delegation visited Portugal (Jan-Feb 2018) . Reciprocating the visit, a 10-member Portuguese youth delegation visited India (September, 2019).
  • The Centre for Indian Studies at the University of Lisbon,started in 2016 is the first such centre dedicated to the study of India in Portugal and hosts a Distinguished Lecture series on art, culture and also organizes conference on Hindi. Many students also take Hindi classes offered by the centre.

Indian community in Portugal
Portugal has a sizeable Indian-origin diaspora including 25,000 Indian nationals and around 9500 OCI/PIO card holders. The community is mainly concentrated in the Lisbon metropolitan region, the Algarve region in the South and Porto in the north.

High Level Visits
From India to Portugal:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi (24 June, 2017)
  • Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the First India-EU Summit in Lisbon under the Portuguese Presidency of the EU (June 2000)
  • President K. R. Narayanan (1998)
  • President R. Venkataraman (1990)

From Portugal to India:

  • State visit of the President of the Portuguese Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (13-16 February,2020)
  • Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s visit to New Delhi to attend the meeting of the Organizing Committee on global commemorations of Bapu@150; he also had bilateral meeting- with PM Modi (19 December, 2019)
  • State visit of Prime Minister António Costa (6-12 January, 2017)
  • Prime Minister José Sócrates visit to attend the 8th India-EU Summit during the 3rd Portuguese Presidency of the EU (December 2007)
  • President Aníbal Cavaco Silva (January 2007)
  • Visit of President Mário Soares as Chief Guest at the Republic Day Celebrations (January 1992)
  • Prime Minister Mário Soares to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (October 1984)

16 February 2022