The Portuguese influence over Macau first came during the 16th century when the Chinese Empire had loaned Macau to the Portuguese as a trading port. Under these circumstances, Macau quickly became a prosperous area through which the Portuguese developed several profitable trade routes, namely the Guangzhou-Macau-Nagasaki route. This golden age, however, came to an end in 1637 when Japan’s shogun sealed off all borders from foreigners. The decline was further accentuated in 1842 with the acquisition of Hong Kong by the British, which in turn diminished Macau’s position as a major trade center in the region.
In order to circumvent this, the Portuguese administration declared Macau a free port and later received jurisdiction over Macau from China through the Beijing Treaty signed in 1887. In 1987, however, the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration on the future of Macau was signed by both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Portuguese Government, the provisions of which would then give rise to the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) on December 20, 1999, under the sovereignty of the PRC within the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”.
In accordance with the Joint Declaration as well as Macau’s Basic Law, Macau SAR will enjoy the large amount of freedom given to that of a Special Administrative Region of China for at least 50 years; being granted its own executive, legislative and judicial powers as well as social and economic independence until 2049. All laws, decrees, administrative regulations and other acts previously in force will be maintained, unless they contravene the Basic Law and will therefore be amended to comply with the SAR ordinance.
In order to promote economic growth and maintain social and political stability, Macau SAR’s Basic Law lays out several precepts to ensure that the socialist system and its policies will not be practiced here.
Situated at the entrance of the Pearl River Delta, nearby Hong Kong and Guangzhou, Macau SAR is located in one of the fastest growing economic areas in the region. The major driving force of Macau SAR’s economic growth lies in both the gaming industry as well as businesses that cater to tourists. Macau SAR ranks 32nd on the global economic freedom index and, between 2002 and 2016, its average annual GDP growth rate was 8.7%.
Moreover, having a Portuguese public administration until 1999, Macau SAR has privileged relations with Portugal and other Portuguese speaking countries such as Brazil, Angola and Mozambique; Macau SAR naturally becomes a trading and economic platform for investors from the these countries who wish to invest in China and vice versa, as well as for international investors in China and in these Portuguese speaking countries.
Although the majority of the population speaks Cantonese, Portuguese is the second official language and may be used in the legislative council, courts and government departments. Nowadays, Macau SAR is a truly multicultural hub where East meets West, possessing a distinctive blend of South Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese cuisine, architecture, and festivities.
Aside from the Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese, Macau has also received many who have immigrated from abroad, namely from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom; making Macau a truly diverse city in terms of demographics and economic activities. This in turn makes Macau a cosmopolitan city where people can enjoy a high degree of freedom and tolerance as they take in its unique heritage.
A small yet thriving city, Macau has flourished tremendously these past two decades, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by potential investors looking to turn their ideas into business opportunities. In order to protect the interests of these investors, Macau SAR has an autonomous industrial property rights legal system, which has mechanisms in place to protect and accord a complete range of industrial property rights. Ever since the enactment of the industrial property rights legal system, Macau SAR has taken great strides in ensuring the protection of intellectual property rights, exerting greater control over the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit goods. As Macau SAR is a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) all international agreements related to intellectual property protection are applicable.