Friendship, Prosperity, and Security – Deepening the U.S.-Portugal Relationship

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(As prepared)

Good afternoon and thank you so much for such a wonderful introduction.

Before I get into my formal speech, I want to start off by reiterating my deepest sympathies to all the victims and communities in Portugal that have been affected by fires.  My home state of Oregon, unfortunately, has also experienced the pain and destruction of wildfires.  While I know we cannot replace all that was lost, I am committed to doing everything in my power to support Portugal as it responds and recovers.

Last week, we announced the U.S. government is providing $50,000 to organizations in Portugal responding to the victims of fires.  While it is a modest amount, it is just the first of a number of steps we will take.  Just yesterday, I was in Viseu and saw, first-hand, not only the devastation, but also the people who are working in recovery efforts.  We are inspired by their dedication to these efforts, and I have personally spoken to officials in the United States to see what technical assistance we can provide in the coming months.  We do this because it is the right thing to do.  We do this because when a friend, like Portugal, needs help, the United States is there.

Now, I want to thank the American Chamber of Commerce, the American Club of Lisbon, and the U.S.-Portugal Friendship Association for inviting me to speak. Don’t think it was lost on me that today is Halloween.  I’m really looking forward to the party that I assume follows this lunch.  I can’t wait to see what you’ve all got for the costume contest.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting many of you during my first two months, and I look forward to getting to know all of you soon.  As Anne, Carlos, and Antonio will tell you, I am very interested to learn, not only about what you are doing, but how I can help strengthen your organizations.

During my swearing-in ceremony in Washington, Vice President Pence reminded me that I am following in the footsteps of giants.  He challenged me to live up to the legacy of my predecessors.  The legacy of Frank Carlucci, of Henry Dearborn, and even of President John Quincy Adams.  So no pressure there!  The Vice President also acknowledged the strength and depth of our relationship with Portugal and then charged me with the responsibility for maintaining this historic relationship.

Now, let me just say, that’s a lot for just one guy.  But fortunately for me, this is not a mission of one.  Our Embassy here in Lisbon is over 200 strong.  And I am honored to be leading a dedicated team of American and Portuguese employees, many of whom have been working for decades to strengthen and deepen our bilateral relationship.  I also know the strength of the U.S.-Portugal partnership was primarily forged, not by the work of our governments, but by our citizens.  Americans and Portuguese who invest their time, money, energy, and hearts to establish and expand the ties that connect our people and our cultures together.

And that is why I am so honored to be here today to introduce myself and to layout America’s policy priorities in Portugal.  In short they are: Friendship, Prosperity, and Security.

To begin, and by way of introduction, I want to briefly talk about how I got to be standing in front of you today.  If you tried to search for me online when my nomination was announced, you probably realized I have been a fairly private person.  If you googled George Glass, you probably saw YouTube links for an episode of The Brady Bunch where Jan has an imaginary boyfriend named George Glass.  Or maybe you found the picture of me duck hunting.  In truth I am neither a secret Brady boyfriend nor do I get the opportunity to hunt much anymore.

So, as much as it goes against my nature, let me tell you a little about who I am and why I am here in Portugal in the first place.  Simply put, I am here because I love my country and I love Portugal.  I first came here in 2014 on a pilgrimage to Fatima with my wife Mary and we were so moved and affected by our time here that upon our departure, we committed to each other that, one way or another, we were going to come back.  Our experience with the people and the culture, the connection we felt was immediate and strong.  Now, we didn’t know in what capacity we would be back here.  But when an opportunity presented itself after the election, there was only one place, and one job on our minds.  Only one opportunity could take us from our home, our community, and our first grandchild.  It was Lisbon or bust.

I should also say that getting us to move away from Oregon, even to as nice a place as this, was not easy.  We are both Oregonians by birth, University of Oregon Duck fans, and yes, I wear Nike.  We are proud to be representing the Beaver State, and look forward to making special connections between Portugal and our home state.

Let me be clear – the friendship the United States and Portugal share is special.  Promoting that relationship is at the core of my work here.  It is also my top priority.  Before I came out here, many people in Washington talked to me about economic deals and security issues, and we will certainly focus on those important issues.  But last month, President Rebelo de Sousa stood up at a podium like this one, some of you may have been there, and delivered an impromptu discourse on how the friendship between our two countries is the fundamental element – indeed friendship underpins our relationship, creates trust, understanding, and honesty, which in turn allows us to pursue prosperity and security.  He was absolutely right.

In fact, I kind of wish he were here right now, so I could show him the title of my speech, and point to “friendship” being listed as my first priority as well.  So if you see him, please let him know that’s what I did.

So, as I layout my vision for my tenure here, I will start with reaffirming my commitment to protecting the historic friendship of our two countries and to focus on ensuring that the amity we enjoy continues for the next generation.

We all know and cherish the roots of our relationship, starting from the moment the signers of our Declaration of Independence displayed their impeccable taste by toasting the occasion with Madeira wine, to Portugal’s early recognition of American’s independence, and including our oldest continuously operating consulate in the world in the Azores.  And, if I may emphasize, we still have a continuously operating military installation in Lajes too.

But Portugal and the United States are also connected in ways we don’t always realize.  For years, every new immigrant arriving in New York read the words of Emma Lazarus, whose stirring words of hope adorn the Statue of Liberty.  Nor is any American county fair or homecoming parade complete without John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”  And any time an American football referee makes a bad call, America learns why from Mike Pereira, who has become a household name from his work on the Fox network’s NFL broadcast.

And while the historic elements provide a strong foundation for our relationship, we must continually work to renew and revitalize the linkages between our countries.  Connections we make today in science, education, culture, and sports will lead to economic development, innovation, and understanding tomorrow.

The United States has long invested in the power of exchange programs and education because we know that when you provide avenues of dialogue, both sides benefit.  And it is clearly working.  You only have to look down the list of Fulbright and other exchange alumni, from President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, to the late João Lobo Antunes, whose memory we will always hold dear, to see successful leaders who have contributed greatly to our relationship and to the world.

But now we need to find the next generation of leaders and connect new segments of our populations together.  And, I am glad to have such strong partners here that are working hard to find them and connect them across the Atlantic.  The U.S.-Portugal Fulbright Commission is coming up on its 60th anniversary and continues to recruit some of the best Americans and Portuguese students and scholars, including one from the University of Oregon this year.  I am thrilled the Portuguese government, through FCT, is supporting 25 additional spots for Portuguese researchers through Fulbright, and other partners, like the Camões Institute and IPMA, have developed Fulbright projects related to language and ocean issues.

FLAD has been another stalwart partner committed to strengthening the ties that bind us and forging new ones.  Its educational, cultural, and economic programs on both sides of the Atlantic have provided many new and creative pathways for Americans and Portuguese citizens to interact and learn from each other.  FLAD has taken stewardship of the landmark Connect to Success program in support of women entrepreneurs, has hosted events and workshops to support our budding LNG relationship, and has helped to produce a one-stop guide on how Portuguese companies can do business in the U.S.  Their Study in Portugal Network encourages Americans to choose to study in Portugal.  We are very happy to see the overall numbers of American students here has doubled in two years, in large part to their work, but I want to see a significant bump when the next report comes out.  Over 28,000 American students study abroad in Spain a year, yet only a little over 400 choose Portugal.  Why is that?

And, of course, one of the greatest assets we have is the more than 1.5 million Portuguese-Americans.  Their success in virtually all sectors of American society, from business, to politics, and sports, elevates the reputation of Portugal, which I might add is riding very high these days.  While I have had the chance to meet with a lot of Portuguese Americans, with full disclosure, my favorite remains Nate Costa – whose father hails from Terceira.  Nate was the Oregon Ducks’ quarterback in 2010, and he led them to the national championship game.  Given the Ducks’ record this year, maybe I should invite the team to come to the Azores and start scouting that Azorean talent.

Looking ahead to next year, President Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Costa will be making an extended visit to celebrate Portuguese national day with the Portuguese-American community.  I am looking forward to working with my friend, Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital, the Portuguese Ambassador to the United States, to make sure their visit is a huge success that showcases all the opportunities that our strong relationship offers.

I am sure these leaders will underscore our historic friendship because they know, as I do, that friendship is the basis for prosperity and security.  They will build on our foundation of friendship and understanding to promote the image of Portugal as a country that is not just for tourists and pop stars, but a resurgent nation that is ready for economic partnerships and investment.

When I first visited Portugal in 2014, the economic situation here was different.  One of the reasons I was captivated by this country, and the Portuguese people, was that even during the pain of the recession, the people demonstrated enormous kindness, generosity, dedication, and resilience.  These values helped Portugal turn the corner on the economic crisis.  They will be necessary as the country enters the next phase, post-recovery.  Having registered its lowest budget deficit since the restoration of democracy and with S&P upgrading its sovereign bonds to investment grade, Portugal is now experiencing an exciting period of growth.

As someone who comes from the investment world, believe me when I say that this is an incredibly important time.  I know from experience that growth companies can be the most difficult to manage. That is why the second priority that I’d like to outline is my commitment to promote economic prosperity and trade between the United States and Portugal.

As I have said previously, this Administration understands that for Americans to be prosperous, our allies and partners, like Portugal, must also be prosperous.  We can already see this in the over 130 U.S. companies operating in Portugal – including some represented here in this room – that employ nearly 30,000 workers, and generate about five billion euros in sales.  That’s around three percent of Portugal’s GDP – or it was, until that GDP grew three percent this year.

And the type of investment they are making here has evolved as well.  Hasbro was an early investor in plastics and industrial molds, and there was a time in the U.S. when most Hasbro toys would have been made right here in Portugal.  Now it is cutting-edge companies like Amyris that are working to help create a biotechnology hub in Porto.  Heinz was also a pioneering investor in Portuguese agriculture.  Now Portugal is moving up the value chain and its produce is going into organic products like Amy’s Kitchen.

And more companies and investors are coming.  We’re just seeing the beginning with Lone Star’s recent acquisition of Novo Banco.  I am incredibly gratified that it was American capital that ultimately stepped in and provided the solution in the wake of the Banco Espirito Santo collapse.  U.S. capital taking over Portugal’s fourth largest bank sends an invaluable vote of confidence that I know will open more doors.

For example, I was just in New York last week when Spring Board announced Lisbon would be the new home for its presence in Europe.  If you don’t know Spring Board already, you soon will.  It’s an organization dedicated to investing in women-run companies, and has been the launch pad for companies like Zipcar, iRobot, and others.

And you can be sure I’ll be letting all these new folks know the value of joining organizations like yours.

I should also point out that investment and trade are flowing both ways.  The United States is now Portugal’s largest trading partner outside the EU.  EDP has helped transform the U.S. renewables sector with billions of dollars of investments and over one thousand jobs.  Logoplaste is another great example of a Portuguese company that invested millions in the Midwest and created hundreds of jobs in the United States.

This is all great news.  But I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do even more.

Because there are so many areas where the U.S. and Portugal can partner, starting in the energy sector.  The U.S. is undergoing a revolution in natural gas, and we’ll shortly go from being one of the largest global importers of energy, to the largest exporter.  Bigger than the Middle East; bigger than Russia.

You may know that Portugal received the very first shipment of U.S. LNG exported to Europe in April 2016.  What you may not know is that Portugal has now received more U.S. gas than any other country in Europe.

Between Portugal and Spain, the Iberian Peninsula possesses over a third of Europe’s LNG import capacity.  The fact that the world’s leading gas companies will be in Lisbon at the end of November for the World LNG Summit is a testament to the significant role Portugal could play in this arena in the coming years.  I want to work with Portugal to forge a partnership on natural gas that improves energy security and diversified options for the rest of Europe and Africa too.

Beyond natural gas, Portugal’s focus on harnessing its ocean-based, or “Blue Economy,” is also exciting.  Portugal has one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world, and is poised to become even larger.  And to help make safer this vast expanse, just this year we signed a bilateral Search and Rescue Agreement, to strengthen cooperation and effectiveness in assisting persons in distress in the Atlantic.

Whether working together to develop floating wind energy, sustainable fishing, smart ports, or hi-tech aquaculture, we have a wealth of ways we can work together as companies and governments to responsibly manage and benefit from the ocean’s resources.

And everything we do together is made easier by the growing number of direct flights that connect us.  American Airlines, Delta, TAP, United, and Azores Airlines are all flying more frequent flights with more destinations in North America than ever before.

TAP has been expanding in the U.S. and around the world after its infusion of American capital, and Delta and United have both been launching new routes with future connections planned from Lisbon to Atlanta, Porto to Newark, and New York to Ponta Delgada.

While many of those planes may be bringing tourists on vacation it is really exciting to me to see all of the American business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who will be coming to WebSummit in next week.  It is an incredible opportunity for Portugal and for the United States to establish even more partnerships and networks.

These economic opportunities extend well beyond Web Summit and startups, to some core industries that can be strengthened by enhanced defense spending.  Whether it’s air-lift capability that enables Portugal to deploy peacekeepers to strategic points or ships to patrol Portugal’s maritime exclusive economic zone and prevent illegal activity, these assets can be built right here in Portugal, employing both Portuguese innovation and labor.  This will contribute to Portugal’s economic and political security and, to be frank, to the mutual security of the U.S. and the rest of our NATO allies.

This brings me directly to the issue of security, which is the final piece of my strategic focus.  We must always remember that our historic friendship and our shared prosperity, is predicated on our joint security.  And ensuring and enhancing that security, for both American and Portuguese citizens, is another tie that binds our two countries.

This year marks an important anniversary of a lesser-known event, but one that I think is particularly salient.  It is the 100th anniversary of the United States Navy repelling a German U-Boat attack on Ponta Delgada during World War I.  While the event may not appear in any Hollywood blockbusters, it shows just how our two countries have had each other’s backs for a very long time.

Today, there is a strong dialogue between the U.S. and Portuguese government under the Trump Administration.  Foreign Minister Santos Silva was in Washington in July meeting with Secretary of State Tillerson, and Defense Minister Azeredo Lopes met with Defense Secretary Mattis in September.  Since then, actually in just the last month, we’ve had three separate 4-star military officers visit Portugal, all discussing how we can best work together to tackle our shared global challenges.

These challenges include North Korea, which is threatening the world with a new nuclear menace that could now reach both our continents.  Portugal was among the first countries to join us in increasing pressure on North Korea by cutting off diplomatic relations.

Around the world, Portugal stands shoulder-to-shoulder with us and the international community, with nearly a thousand troops stationed overseas, many in dangerous and difficult places.  These troops are training Iraqi soldiers to defeat ISIS in Iraq; are contributing to de-mining and post-conflict stabilization; providing reassurance to our NATO allies in the Balkans and Baltics in the face of an aggressive Russia; contributing to maritime and border security and combatting human trafficking in the Mediterranean, and promoting stability in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Mali, and Somalia.

Portugal has also contributed to the security of our NATO ally Romania by selling 12 F-16s to replace Russian-built, Soviet-era MiG fighter jets.

Devoting the necessary resources to ensure the stability and prosperity of our citizens and generations of citizens to come is an investment in our collective futures.  To that end, I am gratified Portugal has reaffirmed its commitment taken in at the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014 to reach 2 % of GDP spending on defense by 2024, including 20 % of defense budgets on equipment.

While Portugal is doing much, the challenges and burdens are many, and we urge and encourage our partners to take on more through the increased capabilities that increased defense spending brings.  The United States is committed to NATO and the security of our allies, and we hope countries like Portugal, who are on the rise, recognize the importance of contributing more to our shared security.

So, there you have it, my friends.  The priorities of the United States here in Portugal:  Friendship, Prosperity and Security.  I hope you will agree that these priorities are right for both of our countries.  Now, I need your help in achieving them.  Together, we need to invest in our friendship, built over centuries, to ensure the foundation of our relations remains strong into the future.  Together, we need to promote economic partnerships, investments, and trade between Portugal and the United States.  Together, we need to commit to investing in and continually strengthening our Alliance.

I look forward to working with all of you to achieve these goals, as much as I’m looking forward to the costume contest.  Anne, are we ready to begin?

And thank you all, once again, for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon.