SEATTLE — In 2008, the massive economic recession hit Europe and many countries around the world. Countries like Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States have since been able to recover, but others, like Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal, are still recovering. Unfortunately for Portugal, the prolonged recession has turned the country into a stronghold for the black market. Here are the three things you need to know about the black market in Portugal.
- The black market in Portugal is large and growing
The Portugal News Online reported that in 2013 unofficial and undeclared work was at a high of 19.4 percent. This number was higher than the European average at the time of 18.4 percent. Today, the black market in Portugal makes up around a fifth of the nation’s economy. The Portugal News Online also reported that “it is estimated that this number could actually be larger than reported. Accurate data about illegal activities is notoriously difficult to obtain because of its very nature.” Studies have also shown that the black market in Portugal could make up about 26.7 percent of the nation’s GDP.
- Illegal Clam Poaching is Growing
The seafood market has been significantly affected by the black market in Portugal, and citizens have now resorted to illegally poaching clams. The act of illegal fishing is categorized as fishing during closed sessions, using illegal drift netting and without the proper legal authorization.Other countries with worsening economies have also turned to illegal fishing as a form of black market trade, including Colombia, Italy and Ecuador. In 2015, seven people died poaching. In an effort to avoid getting caught, poachers wait to enter the sea during the night and during high tides, making it a dangerous battle in exchange for very little money.
- Portugal is in Major Debt
The nation’s major inclination to the black market is due largely to the weak economy. Portugal has yet to recover from the 2008 recession, and by the beginning of this year, the country had accumulated about EUR 12.4 billion in debt. The country has been able to stand on its feet with the help of loans from the European Central Bank, but these will only remain available while Portuguese government bonds have enough value to be used as collateral. In 2011, at the height of the European debt crisis, Portugal was bailed out with EUR 78 billion from the EU and the International Monetary Fund. Reuters reported that, following the bailout, “fiscal consolidation fell short of expectations and debt levels were not stabilized as hoped.”
Although Portugal’s new president was voted in last year, the country’s economic growth has been slow. In 2016, the economy grew by one percent and it is already estimated that in 2017, it is only set to grow by a little over one percent.
– Maria Rodriguez