About Us India-Portugal Relations

Ministry of External Affairs

Portugal - Bilateral Brief

Historical Connections

  • Relations between India and Portugal date back 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.

  • In 1502 AD the 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 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, diplomatic relations were restored following the Portuguese Carnation Revolution in April 1974 which overthrew Salazar’s, Estado Novo. India and Portugal 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.

  • 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 gathered steam with 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 the 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 supported India’s permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The idea of starting an 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 Costa visited India from 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 etc. A Joint Stamp depicting the 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 standalone bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Portugal, 11 MoUs were signed in areas like Space, avoidance of double taxation, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Public Administration and Governance Reforms, Culture, Youth & Sports and 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 Sousa accompanied 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.

  • From 26-27 April 2022, the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs João Gomes Cravinho participated in the Raisina Dialogues’ panel on world expectations chaired by EAM Dr S Jaishankar. They also had a bilateral meeting with EAM reaffirming our relationship, during his visit to New Delhi.

  • From 27 June to 1 July, an official delegation led by the Minister of State (IC) for Science and Technology and Minister of State (IC) for Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh visited Portugal to participate in the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. On 28 June, the latter presented India's statement before the full house of the UN meeting. He outlined that India has already taken a lead in Green Technology and that it, as per PM Narendra Modi’s 2030 goal, is set to reduce India’s emissions by 45% by adding 500 gigawatts of renewable energy generators to the country’s power usage, thereby reducing almost one billion tonnes of its CO2 emissions.

  • On 12 October 2022, India and Portugal held the third round of Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) in Lisbon to review bilateral relations and discuss cooperation in areas like joint efforts in multilateral fora, trade, defence, education, air connectivity, migration, climate action, people-to-people interactions and cultural ties. The consultations were co-chaired by Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma and Director General for Foreign Policy Rui Vinhas. Secretary(West) also interacted with FM João Gomes Cravinho at a round table discussion organised by the Oriente Foundation. The former also called on Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francisco André. And Executive Secretary of Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) H.E Zacarias Costa in Lisbon.

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 the promotion of the Portuguese language were approved by the Council of Ministers Meeting and formally endorsed at the Heads of States Summit. Several events have been organized including the celebration of World Portuguese Language day in collaboration with CPLP member countries in New Delhi in May 2022 which was attended by MoS Meenakshi Lekhi. Similarly a ‘Lusophone Cultural Week” is being planned to be held in Goa from 4-6 December 2022 with the particpation of cultural troupes from all the CPLP member countries.

  • 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 a 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 regarding 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 the 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 2021-22 amounted to US$1,356.34 million. Indian exports stood at US$1,191.80 million and Portuguese exports at US$164.54 million.

  • Financial Year (April-March)

  • 2017-18

  • 2018-19

  • 2019-20

  • 2020-21

  • 2021-22

  • EXPORTS

  • 747.32

  • 743.27

  • 744.79

  • 837.14

  • 1,191.80

  • IMPORTS

  • 190.15

  • 132.83

  • 141.82

  • 113.96

  • 164.54

  • TOTAL TRADE

  • 937.47

  • 876.09

  • 886.60

  • 951.10

  • 1,356.34

  • % GROWTH

  • -

  • -6.55

  • +1.20

  • 7.27

  • -

Figures in US$ million: (Directorate-General of Foreign Trade - DGFT, India), retrieved 22-11-2022.

As per Portugal’s Institute of National Statistics (INE), India-Portugal trade between January and September 2022 amounted to €1,057.84 million (up 52.56% year-on-year), with the trade balance firmly in India’s favour. In the same timeframe, Indian imports were worth €119.54 million (up 19.34% year-on-year) whereas Indian exports were worth €938.30 million (up 58.16% year-on-year).

Major Indian exports to Portugal: Textiles and apparel 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.

Investment: Portugal ranks 51st in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India with total cumulative FDI equity inflows from 2000-2022 worth US$ 120.91 million (DPIIT; June 2022).

Major Portuguese companies present in India include Visabeira, Vision Box (technology company), Portind Shoe Accessories (ancillary of the Portuguese footwear 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 to be in the range of up to US$ 450 million. Major Indian companies include Generis (part of the Aurobindo Pharma Group), the MGM Group (hotels), the Sugee Group (real estate) as well as Mahindra. WIPRO, HCL, TCS and Zomato.

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 initiative has been established for supporting bilateral business initiatives.

A Joint Economic Committee exists at the level of Ministers of State for Commerce from both sides.The 5th Joint 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 cooperation in January 2017. Both sides have regularly exchanged delegations and participated in defence expos. A Portuguese defence delegation anchored by IdD participated in the DEFEXPO in Lucknow in February 2020. The second round of the Joint Working Group was held virtually in September 2021.

  • On 17 June, the Indian Navy training ship INS Tarangini called on the Port of Lisbon as part of its Lokayan-2022 voyage, which included visits to 17 ports in 14 different countries before hoisting the Indian flag in London as part of the AKAM celebrations. Members of the local Indo-Portuguese community, interlocutors and media persons were also present on the sailing ship, about which an article was later published on the website of the newspaper Diário de Notícias on 21 June. On its return trip, the INS Tarangini called at the port of Porto from 26-28 August where its crew members enjoyed professional interactions and visits to Portuguese naval ships and installations. A friendly football match was also organised between the Indian sailors and the Portuguese Northern Maritime Zone Command team. Several visitors from the local Indo-Portuguese community toured the vessel and interacted with the sailors.

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 workshops were 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). Most of the 15 mobility projects announced in the 5th Joint Science and Technology Cooperation (JSTC) are in the process of completion.

An India-Portugal Technology Summit was held virtually in 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.

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(DST) and its Portuguese counterpart FCT. Nearly 422 proposals have been received by each side for 15 funded slots which are being scrutinized by both sides. are now being evaluated. The proposals also include projects for Covid-19 related themes. 10 projects worth 2 million euros under the MoU between DST & FCT have started in the beginning of 2022.

Cultural Cooperation

  • An 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 its people, culture and achievements. Several events have been organized notably LED Tricolor Projection on the statue of King Joseph I located in the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon on India’s Independence day, lectures on Yoga and Ayurveda, 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 January 2022 showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage through art, dance, music, cuisine etc.

On 21 June, the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated at the Belém Tower gardens in Lisbon, under the theme “Yoga for Humanity” an event was organised along with the Municipality of Lisbon and the Portuguese Yoga Federation. Around 400 yoga enthusiasts. In his message on IDY, President Rebelo de Sousa meanwhile welcomed the growing number of Portuguese citizens who practise yoga, recalling “the importance of activities associated with the promotion of physical, mental, spiritual and intellectual well-being".

Several other events have been organized in association with the Indo-Portuguese community groups namely: Punjabi Mela; the National Handloom Day exhibition by ISHA Artes; Homage to Mahatma Gandhi by the Portuguese flautist Rão Kyao; Gandhi Festival hosted by the Casa da Índia association with workshops and events on Yoga, Ayurveda and Indian gastronomy, dance and art; A virtual narration of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Global Leadership for Peace, Non-Violence & Satyagraha’ was organised with the internationally acclaimed speaker on Gandhi, Shobhana Radhakrishna; the Gandhi Citizenship Prize – an initiative that had originally been announced in December 2019 during the visit of PM Costa to New Delhi; Durga Puja Festival, Diwali Celebrations and India@75 celebrations by Bhoomi Association; The annual Diplomatic Bazaar organised by the Portuguese Diplomatic Families’ Association from 11-12 November, an Indian stall was set up, selling Indian attires, handicrafts, jewellery, snacks, tea and many other things. The stall was visited by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who on the occasion was gifted a piece of traditional Indian headgear.

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(KIP) and in the ‘Know Goa’ Programme(KGP). This year, a young doctor from the Indo-Portuguese community was selected to take part in the 62nd Edition of KIP 2022 held in India from 01-21 November 2022 with Rajasthan as a partner state. 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 and culture and also organizes a 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 more than 25000 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 a 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)

As on 23nd November 2022