The Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce is pleased to mark today, for the first time, the World Portuguese Language Day.
The official language of nine countries and an autonomous territory (Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor and the Special Administrative Region of Macau), the language is spoken by more than 250 million native speakers around the globe, being present in the 5 continents and being the 4th most spoken language in the world. In addition, there are at least 7 million people who speak Portuguese and live outside their home countries in the diaspora
Being the language one of the main vehicles of trade and business, it is no surprise that the Portuguese language was already used in international trade even before the globalization era, when the first Portuguese caravels crossed oceans and the first trading posts were created, in the XV century.
The trade ties between Portugal and Flanders date back to the very foundation of Portugal. The dynastic ties between the two trade partners date back to the 12th century, with the marriage of Theresa of Portugal, daughter of the first Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques, to Philip I, Count of Flanders. Later, in the XV and XVI centuries, two other Portuguese princesses, both named Isabella, married two sovereigns of the region, Duke Philip the Good and Emperor Charles V.
In all cases, the princesses were accompanied by businessmen and tradesmen, who created Portuguese trading posts in several cities in the region that has since become Belgium. Naturally, the Portuguese language was commonly used in these trading posts, having left many traces of its presence to the present days, namely in Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels.
Today, in the age of information technology, networks also pass through cyberspace, and it is increasingly important to have a presence in that sphere. Our Chamber of Commerce integrates that world, not only through its presence in social networks, but also, and more importantly, by integrating the Network of Portuguese Chambers of Commerce, coordinated by CCIP, the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Next year, since the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented us from doing so this year, we will celebrate the World Day of the Portuguese Language not only virtually, but also physically, with the organization of an event, which is intended to be held annually, to promote our language as a cultural and business vehicle, thus reflecting the growing importance of the Portuguese language in the global panorama.
The event, which will be attended by Ambassadors, Diplomats and Cultural and Commercial Attachés from the member countries of the CPLP – Community of Portuguese Language Countries, and the Macao Special Administrative Region, as well as representatives of bilateral Chambers of Commerce, export and investment promotion agencies and the European Commission and the European Parliament, has as main objectives to increase synergies among the Portuguese speaking communities in Brussels, the Region and Europe in general; to disseminate the potential of the Portuguese language as a commercial and cultural vehicle of great global importance; to disseminate the importance of the Portuguese language and the World Day of the Portuguese Language to non-Portuguese-speaking communities; to promote networking among the Portuguese-speaking communities in Belgium and neighboring countries and to promote the establishment of commercial and cultural relations among Portuguese-speaking countries and territories.
Rui Faria da Cunha is the President of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.