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Podcast “Pontos Por Soldar” | Eng. Luís Mira Amaral, Former Minister of Industry and Energy

Podcast, Metalwork Industry

In this episode of the podcast, we talked with Eng. Mira Amaral about several topics, such as decarbonization and the importance of clusters in the Portuguese Industry.

You can listen the full episode on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud or Deezer and watch it on our Youtube channel. Below, you can read the highlights of this conversation.


André Ferreira (AF): To start our interview, and before we talk about Motofil and the industry in general, I want to ask a question about some recent news. Issues like the carbon dioxide emissions, or global warming, have been increasingly discussed nowadays, not only from a government perspective, not only from the perspective of the community in general, but also for industrialists. The main source of emissions is energy production, and to change this we have to adopt new production processes, and modify how we do things, how we produce our products. What is your opinion about how the Portuguese industry can, in some way, restructure itself to reduce its ecological footprint.

Luís Mira Amaral (LMA): (...) I must say that Portugal emits only 0.11% or 0.12% of the global CO2 and, therefore, the problem of global CO2 cannot be solved unless there is an agreement between the big polluters. The biggest polluters are the United States, China and India. The European Union only emits 8% of the world's CO2, so this idea that the European Union alone solves the global problem is totally wrong and Portugal is a small country whose emissions are perfectly irrelevant in the global context (...) There are many [companies ] that are investing in photovoltaic panels, to produce energy for self-consumption, which I think is an excellent idea. They must improve their energy efficiency efforts, and they must adhere to the concepts of circular economy in which we, more and more, must produce with the concern of later being able to recycle and reuse what was produced. (...) In the Portuguese case, there is another problem that still arises, which is the small size of many companies. We have a business fabric made up of very small companies, that can’t make investments in the field of productivity, digitalization or even internationalization. And for that reason, I am tired of saying that it is better for a businessman to have 20% of something that is worth money than to have 100% of something that is worth little, so business concentration efforts are still very important in our country.


AF: (…) As soon as China and the United States take any initiative for decarbonisation, will this be reflected in Portuguese industry?

LMA: (...) we should take a ride and take advantage of world trends, what I am just saying is that, in terms of co2 regulation, it is not Portugal alone that will contribute to this. Whatever they do good in this matter, we then take advantage and should take advantage.

AF: Do you think this is one of the problems that we are experiencing in society today? The know-how that is produced in Portugal is going abroad?

LMA: I am not worried that young people who graduate in Portugal go abroad in a first phase, the question I ask is whether the country is able to attract them, in a second phase, to return to Portugal. Because if they first go abroad to work and get to know the world, if we get them to return to Portugal, they come back with another view of the world, another capacity and another international competence that is very useful in the development of Portuguese companies in the global economy. I don't care at all that they initially go abroad, what worries me is that afterwards the country does not have companies or opportunities to make them return and retain them in Portugal in a second phase.

AF: (...) I would like to tell you, or ask you, about Porter's famous report. I am a big fan of Michael Porter and I know that, during your exercise in the government of Cavaco Silva, you commissioned this report on how we could, strategically, boost some Portuguese clusters. I know that there is now an intention to revise this report. (...) What does Portugal need at an industrial level to be more competitive?

LMA: (...) when Professor Porter comes to Portugal and, at my request, the Porter report was prepared, we had some industrial sectors that could not be forgotten, which are the traditional industrial sectors, such as textiles, clothing and footwear. There was an idea that this tradition was obsolete, it was meant to disappear, and they only cared about electronics or Silicon Valey models. Professor Porter came to help me. It came to say in English what I said in Portuguese, which is that the traditional industrial sector is not an obsolete sector, it is a sector that is part of our tradition and we have to reconcile the tradition of these sectors with their capacity for innovation. (...) fortunately, the country has evolved and is much better than it was 30 years ago when I brought [Professor] Porter to Portugal. For me, it makes perfect sense to revisit Porter's project to continue supporting not only the traditional clusters, but also these technological clusters that already exist today (...).


AF: And, as you know, Motofil is a family business, and there is a very strong cultural dimension here. Do you see that same dimension in other companies or even applied to the Portuguese business fabric as something that can reduce the speed of clustering in Portugal or something that could even help clustering in Portugal?

LMA: In today's world we cannot have an individualistic view (...) the very notion of cluster, implies a collaboration between companies and institutions in a given region that work together, that cooperate to develop, and therefore the model today, we often have to cooperate in a pre-competitive stage to then compete in the final stage. It is essential that even family businesses have a vision of cooperation and collaboration with each other, in order to be able to develop (...) Family businesse, have a culture, a set of values, which is instilled by the family, which are very useful for business development.

AF: What are your prospects for the future?

LMA: Well, I already told you that there are two major trends here that the Portuguese companies have to follow. Global trends that are irreversible, like the issue of digital transformation, with the industry 4.0 model, and the problem of ecological transition that obviously must be reflected in energy investments and concern for the circular economy. Then, more and more, there’s a need for qualified people, highly qualified staff, in order for companies to develop. As we, unfortunately, have very small companies, there is a whole movement of concentration and digital cooperation here that is absolutely necessary. We already know that we do not have the Portuguese market, we often have the Iberian market, or the world market. Therefore, our competition is on an Iberian, European or worldwide scale and is no longer on a purely Portuguese scale.

“Pontos por Soldar” is a podcast produced by Motofil that aims to discuss the various topics related to the Portuguese industry, more specifically the metalworking industry.
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Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/36OU9SaNT74vJ5AS80YXUq
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-335921122/promo-pontos-por-soldar
Deezer: https://deezer.com/show/2476772
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