LISBON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Wednesday the country's decrease of exports was due to a global slowdown and not because of a lack of effort by the government.
"I don't share the pessimism of those who say that this is an irreversible sign of a political error or instability in Portugal," Rebelo de Sousa said at a conference at Lisbon's Gulbenkian museum.
The president's comments come a day after the Portuguese national institute of statistics revealed that Portugal's exports dropped in March by 3.9 percent and imports decreased by 0.8 percent compared to the same month in 2015.
The figures showed that total exports of goods slipped 2 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2015, and imports rose 1 percent.
Portuguese exports of goods saw one of the biggest drops in the past seven years, due to a downturn in customer purchases from Angola, China, Germany and Brazil.
Portugal exited a 78 billion euro bailout program in 2014. After three years of harsh austerity, the new Socialist government, backed by the Left Bloc and Portuguese Communist Party, has promised to turn a page on austerity, leading to recent friction between the European Union and the government's budget plans.
Portugal's debt is still at 129 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) and international institutions have warned that Portugal is unlikely to meet the targets set in its budget plan.
Portugal's Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa predicted growth of 1.8 percent this year and a budget deficit cut to 2.2 percent of GDP.