WASHINGTON. Global ratings agency S&P on Friday upgraded Portugal’s sovereign debt, citing the country’s declining level of indebtedness and expectations for “balanced” growth.

The decision followed September’s upgrade to Portugal’s outlook as the once troubled European economy continues its recovery.

In 2014, Portugal exited an international bailout program that began at the height of the European Union debt crisis.

S&P raised its rating to the lower-medium-grade “BBB,” with a stable outlook, up from “BBB-.”

The agency said Portugal should continue to run budget surpluses, steadily reducing the ratio of debt to GDP, while posting growth of between 1.5 per cent and 1.7 per cent through 2021.

Last year’s primary budget surplus of almost three per cent of Gross Domestic Product was “one of the highest in the euro area” or among OECD members, the agency said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Lisbon’s plans to operate at an overall surplus by next year, including spending on interest costs, are “credible,” despite the cyclical economic slowdown in Europe, according to S&P.

Portuguese authorities have also made efforts to protect the economy from a no-deal Brexit.

“UK residents make up about one-sixth of tourist arrivals in Portugal, meaning a no-deal Brexit would at least initially incur a cost,” the statement said.

“The government has introduced measures to facilitate the arrival of UK nationals in Portugal in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”