Mission accomplished? An evaluation of the impact of EFTA's industrial development fund on Portugal

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Abstract

The European Free Trade Association's Industrial Development Fund for Portugal completed its operations in 2002 after 25 years of contribution to the country's economic evolution. During this period, the Fund approved almost 1,750 preferential loans worth over 789 million euros, which in turn generated some 3 billion euros of overall investment. This article evaluates the role of the IDF by focussing upon the difficulties associated with creating jobs and developing the human resource base through vocational training schemes. It shows that the Fund's financial activity was spatially channelled mainly towards Portugal's western coastal margin, and remained biased in favour of the country's traditional manufacturing industries. It critiques the validity of such a focus on process and evaluates the spatial efficacy inherent in promoting a scheme that appears to work to the detriment of disadvantaged interior regions, instead of achieving its goal of equitably distributing funds throughout the country.

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