Portugal minister says 2018 growth could beat expectations

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Portugal is hoping to beat its official growth forecast of 2.2 percent this year on the back of strong investment, tourism and exports, Economy Minister Manuel Cabral said on Tuesday.

Last year Portugal’s economy grew 2.6 percent, its strongest performance in at least a decade, and Cabral said the country is set to continue to benefit from positive tailwinds this year.

“I think in 2018 the prospects for growth are between 2 and 2.5 percent, which is positive and strong,” Cabral told Reuters in Davos. “What we are working on is to surpass those expectations, which is exactly what we have done in 2017.”

Last year the government initially forecast growth of 1.8 percent.

“I think that we may have (growth) upgrades, we had a lot of upgrades in 2017,” the minister added. “We are moving to 2018 with very positive prospects.”

Portugal’s economy has rebounded strongly from its 2011-14 debt crisis, including bringing its budget deficit down to the lowest levels in modern history.

The economy has been spurred by a boom in tourism, which had generated a 20 percent rise in revenues last year, Cabral said. Investment, both domestic and foreign, has helped and the minister said it reached its highest levels in 18 years in 2017.

Without giving details, Cabral said he was talking to several companies at Davos about the prospects of investing in Portugal.

“In Davos you have investors from all over the world, who are very curious and positive about Portugal at this moment,” he said. (Reporting By Mark Bendeich, writing by Axel Bugge; Editing by Keith Weir)