Workers at the Pedrosa & Rodrigues clothing factory in Portugal are worried that something 2,000 kilometers away could endanger their jobs.

Sales to Britain make up about half of this family business’s yearly earnings of about 14 million euros. But a British withdrawal from the European Union could make products from Portugal more costly.

The factory could possibly lose up to 7 million euros a year, says Ana Pedrosa Rodrigues, who works with buyers of the company’s products. “It would be extremely worrying.”

Businesses like Pedrosa & Rodrigues fear they could be hurt by Brexit – Britain’s exit from the EU’s single market. Portugal says Brexit could destroy up to 26 percent of Portuguese exports of goods and services and take 1 percentage point off the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that if Britain leaves without an agreement on new trade terms with the EU, it could reduce the EU’s GDP by about 1 percentage point by 2020. 

Last year, the European Committee of the Regions said Ireland would be greatly hurt by Brexit because it is so close to Britain. That closeness has tied their economies.

Cities like Stuttgart, in Germany, could also have economic problems, it said. The automobile industry in and around Stuttgart earns a lot from exports to Britain. Chemical and plastics companies in Belgium and the Netherlands also are at risk, the committee said.

Portugal has had close ties with Britain since the Treaty of Windsor in 1386. The Portuguese textile industries could be badly hurt. Its factories are based in one of the poorest areas in Portugal and Western Europe.

The Pedrosa & Rodrigues factory sits on the end of a small town in Portugal’s industrial center, where textile companies make about 130,000 jobs.

Ana Pedrosa Rodrigues remembers when her parents started the company with five employees in 1982. She and her two older brothers recently joined their parents at the company. The other employees include husbands and their wives, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters. Almost all of the workers live in town.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

endanger /ɪnˈdeɪn(d)ʒə/ - v. Put (someone or something) at risk or in danger.

  • He was driving in a manner likely to endanger life.

withdrawal /wɪðˈdrɔː(ə)l/ - n. The action of ceasing to participate in an activity.

  • Italy's withdrawal from NATO could happen soon.

term /təːm/  - n. Conditions under which an action may be undertaken or agreement reached; stipulated or agreed requirements.

  • Their solicitors had agreed terms.

textile /ˈtɛkstʌɪl/ – n. a fabric that is woven or knit

  • His family had for generations been in the textile industry, first in wool and then cotton.


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. Why are the workers at the Pedrosa & Rodrigues clothing factory worried?

2. How could Britain's exit from the EU affect Portugal?

3. Which other countries might be affected if Britain leaves the EU?


Exercise 3


Please give your opinion on the following statement and give your reasons behind it.

  • Britain should stay in the EU.

Exercise 4 


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think about the problem that the Portuguese workers are facing?

2. How will Brexit affect other European countries in your opinion?

3. Would you like to visit Portugal? Why/why not?

4. Which countries does your country have economic ties with?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.