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Portuguese Ambassadors Tour Newark

Officials look to strengthen two-way trade between U.S. and Portugal

Vieira's Bakery in Newark got a special visit Monday from members of the Portuguese delegation, which was in town for the first leg of a three-city trip aimed at boosting trade opportunities between the closely allied United States and Portugal.

The delegation, which included U.S. Ambassador to Portugal Allan J. Katz, Portuguese Ambassador to the U.S. Nuno Brito and top officials from various Portuguese-owned businesses, donned hair nets as they toured the Avenue K bakery, which specializes in European-style breads. Vieira's Bakery, founded in 1969 by Carlos Vieira, is one the largest in Newark, making more than 400 daily deliveries and processing more than 500,000 lbs. of flour a week.

"It could always be useful," said Rui Gaspar, the bakery's general manager, of the opportunities that may come of the visit. He said the brief tour of the plant likely served as a way for the delegation to learn more about successful Portuguese businesses in Newark.

Rui Boavista Marques, the trade and investment commissioner for North America for the Portugal Business Development Agency, said he was impressed by the state-of-the-art facility and that it uses some Portuguese machinery like baking ovens and silos.

Earlier that day, the group of roughly two dozen people enjoyed a networking lunch at Casa Seabra and met with Mayor Cory Booker at a business symposium at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Before departing to their New York hotel, the delegation met with the Portuguese-American Chamber of Commerce at Sol Mar restaurant.

"The opportunities that exist for these Portuguese businesses to work closely with American businesses is something that should be taken advantage of," said Katz, a Florida lawyer who became ambassador in 2009. Katz has been at the forefront of strengthening business ties between the U.S., Portugal and Africa through the Access Africa Forum, to be held this May in Lisbon.

In 2010, more than $450 million in exports and imports was traded between Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal, one of the largest shipping ports in the U.S., and Portugal, according to World Port Source.

The delegation will also travel to New York and Florida this week.

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