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Madeira: Country and Foreign Investment

Economy and Currency

This page was last updated on 30 June 2021.

The four pillars of the Madeiran economy are farming, fishing, tourism and offshore financial services. Increased economic prosperity resulted in an unemployment rate of 6% (2008) which was extremely low by Portuguese standards. Inevitably this rose during the global recession, peaking at 14.3% in 2011. The unemployment rate has now fallen to 9.3% - though it should be borne in mind that emigration has helped to reduce this figure.

To cater for the labour demands that increased economic prosperity brought about, the government set up the Centro Regional de Formaçao Profissional whose objective was to train young Madeirans for the skills required in the new developing market place.

Fishing and farming are the traditional Madeiran industries, and winemaking has become a particular success recently. Tourism followed the coming of democracy in 1976 and was given added impetus by Portugal's accession into the European Community in 1986. 1990-3 saw an estimated €320 million of grants to Madeira resulting in a building boom.

The official currency is the euro. In September 2002, Moody's assigned an Aa3 foreign currency issuer rating to the region of Madeira based on the region's buoyant economy, its improving financial performance and manageable debt burden. 

Moody's said at the time that its rating took into account the rapid pace of growth recorded by the local economy, which enabled the region to partially catch up with EU and domestic GDP per capita and achieve very low unemployment rates.

In September 2011, Moody's downgraded the long-term issuer rating of Madeira from B1 to B3. 'Concerns over the region's poor governance and management as well as weak budget execution' where given as the main reasons for the decision. Unreported costs and debt rescheduling agreements not reported by Madeira's regional government since 2003 have had a combined impact of EUR1.1 billion in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 deficits. GDP per head in 2015 was €16,100.



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