Policy & History

United States-Portugal bilateral ties date from the earliest years of the United States when Portugal was among the first countries to recognize the United States following the revolutionary war. The oldest continuously-operating U.S. Consulate is in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Contributing to the strong ties between the United States and Portugal are the presence of sizeable Portuguese communities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Hawaii.

A strong, vocal pro-American sentiment across most of the political spectrum has combined to make the relationship between the United States and Portugal one of three pillars of Portugal’s foreign policy, along with the European Union and the Portuguese-speaking world. The United States and Portugal cooperate in the United Nations, in various regional organizations, and bilaterally for peace, prosperity, and security.

Portugal became a charter member of NATO in 1949. It is an active member of the Alliance whose forces in 2015 and 2016 were deployed to NATO operations in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Central and Eastern Europe, as well as to EU and UN missions in the Mediterranean, Mali, the Central African Republic, and Somalia.  The U.S. Air Force’s 65th Air Base Group operates from Lajes Field, a Portuguese airbase on Terceira Island in the Azores that serves as a logistics hub for U.S Transportation Command, U.S. European Command, and NATO allies. Portugal is a strong partner in combating terrorism, most recently having deployed military trainers to Iraq in the fight against ISIL.  Portugal’s law enforcement cooperation with the United States and other international partners to combat drug trafficking is outstanding, featuring multiple, highly successful joint investigations throughout 2014 and 2015.

Pursuant to the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation and Defense, the U.S.-Portugal Bilateral Commission meets semi-annually to review all aspects of the bilateral relationship, including defense cooperation, science and technology cooperation, bilateral trade and investment, cooperation in the Azores, justice and home affairs, and political and diplomatic cooperation. The U.S.-Portugal Fulbright Commission was founded in 1960 and funds graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting professors.

U.S. Assistance to Portugal

The United States provides no development assistance to Portugal, but does fund limited military education and training.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States is Portugal’s largest trading partner outside the European Union. Portuguese exports to the United States were approximately $4.2 billion in 2015, a 60 percent increase from six years earlier. The U.S. exported more than $1 billion of goods in the same period. U.S. direct investment in Portugal reached $2.1 billion in 2014, and U.S. companies are significant investors in the insurance, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, among others. Portugal and the United States have enacted an income tax agreement to prevent double taxation, and signed an agreement on implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act in August of 2015.  Portugal ratified the agreement in September 2016.

Portugal’s Membership in International Organizations

Portugal and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Portugal is an observer to the Organization of American States.