The minister of state and finance for Portugal was in Hong Kong yesterday to drum up interest for investments in the beleaguered economy and to assure investors about its long-term future. 'It has been a positive set of contacts with very positive reactions from investors,' minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos (pictured) said. 'We have been able to convey the message that Portugal has already faced several difficulties in its past, we were able to overcome those difficulties, and we will do it again.' He talked to investors about participating in Portugal's privatisation programme, which is estimated to generate about Euro6 billion (HK$59.24 billion). The energy, transport and insurance sectors are among the opportunities for investment. He also drew attention to Portugal's sovereign bonds. Portugal has frontloaded efforts to reduce the fiscal deficit, cutting it from 9.3 per cent of the economic growth to an expected 4.6 per cent next year, Teixeira dos Santos said. 'Measures are being taken not only to achieve fiscal targets but also to [improve] the functioning of the economy,' he said. The Portuguese economy has been hard hit by the global downturn, contracting by 2.6 per cent last year, according to government statistics. Trade flows suffered as exports shrank by 11.8 per cent and imports by 10.8 per cent. The quarterly unemployment rate has been in double digits for the past three consecutive periods. And the government has been forced to cut expenditure and raise taxes in order to shore up its fiscal position. But Portugal said this week that second-quarter economic growth edged up a faster-than-expected 0.3 per cent from the first quarter. The high-level Portuguese delegation spent about a week in Asia and has also made stops in Tokyo, Beijing and Singapore. Teixeira dos Santos said he joined the trip in Singapore.