Madeira bid to woo investors

PORTUGAL is aggressively wooing Hongkong investors to Madeira island, which is being promoted as an international business centre, a fast developing free trade zone and an up-and-coming offshore financial centre.

Mr Jorge Veiga Franca, executive senior manager of Madeira Development Co, said the island attracted a Hongkong jeans manufacturer 18 months ago and was now processing two applications.

One is a joint venture involving Hongkong and Chinese capital to set up a footwear factory and the other is from a Japanese company for setting up a factory for smoking fish.

''An investor can get up to 75 per cent of total physical cost [in the form of subsidy grants from the European Commission] and also grants for training local people,'' Mr Franca said.

He added that the jeans manufacturer had recently obtained a second grant from the EC for training people.

A company would receive about US$2,000 per job created and the amount would be doubled if the job was a technical one, he said.

Mr Franca said Hongkong companies could qualify for such grants if they applied to set up factories in Madeira this year. These grants were expected to be reduced next year.

Mr Franca, who regularly visits Hongkong to promote Madeira, said he expected more companies to apply to establish on the island once they were familiar with the incentives.

He said Madeira offered one of the most advantageous tax systems in Europe.