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Beja airport perfect as 'import:export hub,' write Jack Soifer

alentejoview1Two weeks ago, EDIA and MELHOR ALENTEJO held meetings to detail proposals to accomplish what politicians just talk about. Portugal’s interior has great wealth, can increase exports and create jobs.

Already in 2009, the handbooks COMO SAIR DA CRISE A, B, and C, listed hundreds of niches to develop in rural areas for A-lgarve / Alentejo, B-eiras and Baixo Tejo, C-entro and Cumes.

All required small investments for each small to medium enterprise, if rail and roads were improved.

The crisis made things worse and another crisis is coming soon. Governments have done little more than to pay interests to foreign banks.

Then the books PORTUGAL RURAL and TRANSPORTES, with comprehensive summaries in English, detailed what and where to develop and how to export.

Ex: Ethanol (biofuel) from Ribatejo to Sweden. Fig of India (Opuntia ficus-indica) of the Algarve /Alentejo to the drug industry of France /Germany. Extracts of Lavender, Rosemary, Agar to the cosmetic industry. Salicornia of Southern Portugal to Denmark, for biodiesel.

Wood from the north of Portugal would be better used to make and then export furniture. Vale do Ave already exports but can do more. The wines of Alentejo, Dão, Douro, Minho could export more.

"680 passengers? If the PM electrifies the Beja line and uses the Light Fast Train, already detailed in 2011, tourists arrive in Lisbon and Faro in 50-55min. It is better than Montijo; what they save on the flight, they spend on local handicrafts and gifts."

TRANSPORTES details how to improve existing infrastructures with nano-investments. It would cost little to improve and electrify the line to Beja and from there, make one to Faro.

In Portugal only Beja airport can receive huge aircraft that carry 680 passengers. When the government electrifies the Beja line and uses the Light Fast Train, already detailed in 2011, tourists arrive in Lisbon and Faro in 50-55min. It is better than Montijo; what they save on the flight, they spend on handicrafts and local gifts.

Beja’s huge airport could serve as a hub for air cargo coming from Africa and the Americas. The large freighters would descend at dawn and the small ones would leave for some 20 airports in Central Europe.

In order to export fabrics and furniture from Minho, wines/cheese from Alentejo and Algarve, stones from Elvas, Ribatejo's ethanol, Beiras’ herbs, almonds and figs from the Algarve, all to niches in Central Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, we need the European train gauge. The Spanish insist on using the Iberian rail gauge so they handles the transshipment to those destinations - and keep the profits.

On page 71 of TRANSPORTES there is a table of what each project would cost, totaling €495 million over seven years.

If they had started in 2011, investing only €70 million a year, it would all be ready by now, we could be exporting 15% more than we import; instead of the contrary which is a position expected for the next decade.

Jobs in the interior could attract unemployed youth who could use the 98,000 closed homes, many that, with simple revamp, would bring back life to Portugal’s our inland culture.