Portugal–United States relations
Bilateral ties date from the earliest years of the United States. Following the American Revolutionary War, Portugal was the first neutral country to recognize the United States.citation needed On February 21, 1791, President George Washington opened formal diplomatic relations, naming Col. David Humphreys as U.S. minister.
The defense relationship between the United States and Portugal is excellent, centered on the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation and Defense (ACD). For 50 years, Lajes Air Base in the Azores has played an important role in supporting U.S. military aircraft (its importance such that the US had a contingency plan in 1975 to stimulate Azores independence in the event of a Communist takeover of Portugal2). Most recent missions are engaged in counter-terrorism and humanitarian efforts, including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Portugal also provides the United States access to Montijo Air Base and a number of ports.
Portugal defines itself as "Atlanticist" emphasizing its support for strong European ties with the United States, particularly on defense and security issues. The Portuguese Government has been a key ally in US, supporting efforts in Iraq, and hosting the Azores Summit that preceded military action. Portugal sees its role as host of NATO's "Joint Command Lisbon" (formerly the Regional Headquarters, Southern Atlantic – RHQ SOUTHLANT), located near Lisbon, as an important sign of alliance interest in transatlantic security issues.
The United States exported $1.47 billion worth of goods in 2006 and imported an estimated $3.04 billion. While total Portuguese trade has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, the U.S. percentage of Portugal's exports and imports has declined. The Portuguese Government is encouraging greater bilateral investment. US firms play some significant roles in the pharmaceutical, computer, and retail sectors in Portugal, particularly in Lisbon, but their involvement in the automotive sector has sharply declined in recent years.
Contributing to the strong ties between the United States and Portugal are the 20,000 Americans living in Portugal and some sizable Portuguese communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Hawaii. The latest census estimates that 1.3 million individuals living in the United States are of Portuguese ancestry, with a large percentage coming from the Portuguese Autonomous region of the Azores Islands.
Principal U.S. Officials include:
- Ambassador—Thomas F. Stephenson
- Deputy Chief of Mission—David Ballard
- Consul General—Eugene Sweeney
- Political/Economic Affairs—Richard Reiter
- Management Affairs—Jesse Coronado
- Public Affairs—Wes Carrington
- Regional Security Officer—Gazman Xhudo
- Commercial Affairs—Dillon Banerjee
- Defense Attaché—COL Karl Johnson
- Office of Defense Cooperation—CDR Ted Bradfield
- Consul, Ponta Delgada—Jean Manes
Media related to Portugal – United States relations at Wikimedia Commons