In its fifty-second year of serving the automotive industry in Portugal and internationally, Portuguese automotive suppliers association Afia believes that being involved in trade shows, conferences and expos plays a significant role in creating relationships with countries, such as South Africa.
Afia secretary-general Adão Ferreira tells Engineering News that shows, such as those of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers, are beneficial in fostering bilateral trade investments.
Drawing data from its 2016 bilateral trade between Portugal and South Africa, he notes that Portugal’s exports to South Africa amounted to €57-million and hopes this will grow by 5% in the next few years.
“Afia promotes growing competitiveness and exports, as well as the internationalisation of all associated companies. We also foster incentives from potential buyers towards the development of local suppliers.”
Ferreira notes that, to date, two of its member companies –CR Moulds and Sodecia – have established operations in South Africa to service the automotive industry.
The Portugal Trade & Investment Agency’s (Aicep’s) added support contributes to the success of Portuguese companies abroad and that of the association, Ferreira indicates.
With a strong focus on Africa, Afia signed a memorandum of understanding with Moroccan Association for the Automotive Industry and Trade (Amica) to promote mutual interest in the exchange of information regarding potential trade between the two associations’ member companies.
In fostering these close relations, Afia – in collaboration with the Portuguese mould industry association Cefamol, Aicep and Amica – will promote the participation of Portuguese companies in the Subcontracting Show to be held in Tangier, Morocco, in April.
“We are focused on surpassing the huge dependence on Europe, so we are organising trade missions in other continents as is the case with Africa. Other continents we are also considering are Asia and North America,” Ferreria points out.
Salvador Caetano Group has been partnering with Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota’s brand representation in the Portuguese market since 1968.
Toyota Caetano Portugal Ovar plant GM Carlos Rodrigues says that, since 2015, it has been supplying the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series to the South African market.
“We supplied 1 281 units in 2015, 1 823 in 2016 and 1 913 last year. We are scheduled to export about 2 488 units by the end of this year. Currently, we produce about 12 units a day at our plant.”
He mentions that the relationship it has created with South Africa regarding the Land Cruiser 70 series has been going extremely well.
Afia member company, automotive metallic components manufacturer Epedal, aims to export its products to Morocco in the fourth quarter of this year.
Epedal board member Paulo Ferreira says the company forecasts a production increase of about 12% this year, which will benefit its exports to Morocco.
Portuguese leather seats and steering wheels manufacturer Couro Azul also looks to expand its global presence through the assistance of Afia, of which it is a member. Couro Azul exports about 90% of its products and Couro Azul CEO Pedro Carvalho hopes to grow business in South Africa through ongoing Daimler projects.
Another member company, metallic components manufacturer Inapal, hopes to grow its global footprint in aiming to add value to clients. Inapal administration officer Pedro Roquette says the company is investing in two press machines to boost production, subsequently ensuring that its export rate grows significantly.
Mouldmaking and tools company Simoldes plans to invest in additive manufacturing, polishing and coatings in the next few years.
To ensure that its investment yields positive results, Simoldes Group tooling division process engineer João Viera says the company is investing €25-million in a new test plant. In the past five years, global investment in the plastics and tool divisions has reached €140-million.
Robotics company Motofil Robotics CEO João Carlos Novo says the company is assessing the possibilities of finding commercial business partners in South Africa and servicing the metal fabrication and renewable- energy sectors.
“We already have a footprint in South Africa through the wind energy sector; however, with our growing laser-cutting and welding-systems business, prospects for growth into other sectors are part of our long-term goals.”
FMT Tooling Systems – the business unit of Frezite Group and manufacturer of polycrystalline diamond tools for the machining of aluminium parts – says 95% of its business is in the automotive industry. FMT Tooling Systems general director Nicolas Mehrle says that, with aspirations of a global footprint, the company has to adapt organisationally to market needs.
Moreover, exhausts and emissions control company Veneporte CEO Abílio Cardoso says it is open for integration into African countries. “Predominantly serving the European market, the improvements and upgrades we have made to our plant will also provide us with the flexibility to infiltrate other markets.”