|Environmental Technologies Industries
|Portugal Environmental Export Market Plan|
|Chapter 6-Positioning an American Company in the Market|
|Best Prospects: The Portugese Environmental Industry’s View|
Several Portuguese environmental specialists were asked to offer their views about the country's market and best prospects for American companies. No reliable estimates were obtained about the size of the market for areas of deficiency in local and European production and/or know-how. The purpose of this exercise was to determine industry's perception of areas in need of imported technology.
1. Several large Portuguese companies are interested in entering the environmental services area, as the government moves to privatize these services following EU directives. So far, European companies, particularly from Spain and France, have been successful in winning contracts for privatized services. The Portuguese would like these business opportunities for themselves. American companies interested in selling technical expertise to Portuguese companies in the environmental services area may be able to win important contracts that could also lead to some partnership or joint venture arrangement as a minority partner. Construction companies and engineering design and consulting firms offer some of the best opportunities in this area.
2. Technology and know-how for soil recovery and treatment of contaminated sites are not available locally or from European companies. This area offers good opportunities for American environmental companies, since they are recognized leaders in this area.
3. EU and national funding generally is allocated for building infrastructure-for example, water treatment plants, potable water distribution systems, and wastewater collection and treatment plants-and improving collection and treatment of urban solid waste. For the most part, these projects involve basic traditional building technology that is locally available. Portuguese and other European companies know how to pour concrete and build pipelines. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for American engineering design companies and equipment manufacturers with experience in specialty areas in environmental technology. For example, technology for secondary and tertiary treatment of wastewater, as well as for potable water treatment, is in demand. This technology includes microfiltration systems, membranes, separators, and water filtration systems.
4. Cost recovery for all environmental sectors is in high demand. The most important challenge faced by Portugal as new environmentally friendly practices are introduced is to find ways to recover costs and create systems that the nation can afford in the long run. Technologies which meet these needs include analytical accounting systems, information systems, municipal or concessionaire fee-collection systems, etc. Cost recovery is of prime importance in Portugal.
|Best Prospects in the Environmental Services Area|
Among the strategies suggested by the European Union (EU) and adopted by the Government of Portugal is the privatization of environmental services. The privatization has created a market for environmental services companies in Portugal. These are some of the areas that offer the best opportunities for U.S. environmental services companies:
Environmental impact studies. As of 1990, Portuguese legislation requires that environmental impact studies be carried out before any major project, including construction of new highways, airports, ports, agro-industrial projects, etc. Since 1990, approximately 411 environmental impact studies have been conducted. Although there are competent Portuguese companies with experience with these studies, there is a potential market for American consulting services in very technical areas.
Hazardous waste. American environmental services companies are regarded by the Portuguese as leaders in technology to handle hazardous waste. It is estimated that as of 1994, Portugal produced at least 1.37 million tons of hazardous waste annually, of which at least 55 percent was disposed of without controls of any kind. An estimated 15,000 tons of hazardous hospital waste were produced in 1994, with most of the treatment provided at individual hospitals with a wide degree of effectiveness. A new integrated system for treatment of industrial waste (STRI) has been designed, with the goal of improving the system by the year 2000. This offers excellent potential for American companies to provide consulting services to Portuguese organizations interested in expanding their business operations in this area.
Privatization of water and wastewater treatment. American environmental services companies could benefit from market conditions by offering consulting services and technical know-how to Portuguese companies that want to branch out into becoming service providers. Competition from European companies, however, will be
very strong. Since 1995, the Portuguese Government has been moving toward privatization of water treatment services. Portuguese construction companies have attempted to move into this area, in part, to obtain steady business and shelter their companies from the ups and downs associated with public works projects. In some cases, they have associated themselves with Spanish, French, and British firms to enter this business. In other cases, they have tried to do it on their own. Some municipal authorities have also attempted to retain their traditional service operations by creating new government-owned corporations to bid for projects, but the national government has moved to disqualify them and keep them from circumventing the intent of the national government in truly privatizing the sector. There is a tug-of-war over privatization of services with private companies naturally supporting the exclusion of government-owned companies.
Privatization of street cleaning, waste collection, separation, recycling, incineration, and operation of sanitary landfills for urban solid waste. American companies have potential for selling technical consulting services, possibly taking equity positions in startup Portuguese environmental services firms. Subsidiaries of construction companies are good candidates for joint ventures. As in the case of municipal water and wastewater treatment, the national government is pushing for the privatization of urban solid waste services traditionally provided by public institutions. Essentially the same group of Portuguese construction companies that has tried to capture the waterworks has moved to enter the solid waste privatization's, but they have faced very strong competition from experienced foreign European firms with know-how and capital. Specific technical support services in environmental technologies are needed.