Relations with the U.S.

Bilateral Relationship between Portugal-USA

Portugal was one of the first nations to recognize the United States. The two countries maintain diplomatic relations since 1791, sharing common values and strong ties that span most fields, including security and defense, political and diplomatic cooperation, science, technology and education, trade, and investment. The United States is historically one of the main destinations for Portuguese emigration, with an estimated population of almost 1.5 million people of Portuguese-origin in the country for generations.

Cooperation in the areas of security and defense

Portugal and the United States are NATO allies and founding members. In that context, the respective Armed Forces have jointly participated in various operations on multiple locations.

The defense bilateral relationship is equally intense and has as its cornerstone the Agreement on Cooperation and Defense signed in 1995. This Agreement regulates the United States’ military presence – uninterrupted since 1944 – at the Lajes Field, on Terceira Island, in the Azores, and establishes a biannual consultation mechanism (the Standing Bilateral Commission), whose agenda covers every aspect of the bilateral relationship.

Economic and Trade Relations

In 2016, the United States remains Portugal’s largest trading partner outside of the European Union (5th in total), with the bilateral trade of goods and services reaching around 5.8 billion Euros. The flow of American tourists to Portugal has also seen one of the largest increases in the past few years.

The total value of Portuguese exports to the US has been increasing on average 6.1% per year since 2012, reaching almost 4 billion Euros in 2016. The main export groups are mineral fuels, pharmaceutical products, mechanical and electrical appliances, wood, paper, cork, and textiles. Portuguese imports from the US have also increased (on average 4.8% per year since 2012), reaching almost 2 billion Euros in 2016. These consist, mainly, of machinery, mechanical and electrical appliances, mineral fuels, vehicles and other transport material, agricultural products, and precision instruments.

Justice and Home Affairs

Cooperation in this domain aims to prevent common threats to both countries, such as terrorism and organized crime. Portugal participates in the Visa Waiver Program which allows for the increase of Portuguese and American citizens’ security by sharing traveler’s information.

Science, Technology and Environment

In recent years, Portugal and the United States have deepened the bilateral relationship in the scientific and technological domain. Through the International Partnerships Program of the FCT (Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation), Portugal promotes cooperation between Portuguese universities and research institutions and American universities, as well as with other industrial and business partners. Particularly noteworthy is the recent renewal of partnerships between our country and three American universities: Carnegie Mellon, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the University of Texas at Austin.

This cooperation with American universities and institutions has also been one of the main factors for the development of the important project of creating an AIR Center (Atlantic International Research Center) in the Azores.

Portuguese and Luso-descendent Communities

According to the 2016 “American Community Survey”, there are 1.375.288 Portuguese-origin citizens living in the US. Portuguese immigration to the United States began at the end of the 19th century. Today, the Portuguese and Luso-American community is mostly present in the State of California (about 355.000 Portuguese and/or of Portuguese descent), Massachusetts (278.000), Rhode Island (95.000), Florida (80.000), New Jersey (79.000), New York (51.000), Connecticut (50.000) and Hawaii (50.000). In this context, there is a very active community and associative life, which has become one of the main assets in promoting the Portuguese language, culture and traditions in the United States.

Teaching of the Portuguese language

The Portuguese language is taught in Portuguese community schools, American public schools, and universities. In 2017/2018, it was taught to about 18 thousand students from 1st to 12th grade, and to another ten thousand students attending higher education. The teaching of the Portuguese language in the United States is supported by the Camões, I.P., in both the West and East Coast of the United States.

Taking into consideration the added value of knowing Portuguese, the National Examinations in World Languages (NEWL), recognized by the College Board, have included Portuguese as one of the foreign languages that give credits in high school and when applying for higher education.

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