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Portugal seeks to bolster ties with ex-colony Mozambique

Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on Wednesday kicked off a two-day visit to Mozambique by signing a raft of cooperation agreements with his country’s former colony.

“There is no doubt that there are many areas where we can work together,” Passos Coelho said at the start of bilateral talks with his Mozambican counterpart in the capital Maputo.

The two countries signed 16 agreements ranging from fisheries to transport to defence.

“This is an important time for Mozambique to augment its capacity for investment,” Passos Coelho said.

Portugal’s current investments in Mozambique are mainly in construction and services linked to the country’s recent natural resources boom.

The booming economy has also attracted a large number of Portuguese nationals who fled the eurozone economic crisis that severely hit the country.

Passos Coelho is accompanied by a large delegation of ministers and 45 business executives looking for opportunities in the southern African country.

Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza said his country was looking to “expand the exploration and development of our natural resources” with the former colonial power.

After a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, Mozambique has emerged as a new gas frontier, with several discoveries made in the last few years. The country is also poised to become one the leading coal exporters on the continent.

But despite its newfound growth, the country remains one of the poorest in the world, with many people living on less than $1 a day.

Portugal is a key donor country for Mozambique, and Passos Coelho also extended 400,000 euros ($550,000) in aid.