PRESIDENT OF THE ARGENTINE INDUSTRIAL UNION
Argentina 2018 I Industry I Leader
BIOGRAPHY Born in 1932 in Buenos Aires, son of Armenian immigrants in Argentina, he is one of the most successful businessmen in Latin America. Mr Eurnekian has been honoured by Italy with the “Leonardo Award”, granted the Business for Peace Award in Oslo, Norway, decorated by the Brazilian Government with the Orden de Rio Branco, and named National Hero of Armenia for his philanthropic endeavours and investments in that country.
“OUR COUNTRY HAS A KEY ASSET ON WHICH UIA BUILDS ITS INSTITUTIONAL WORK EVERY DAY: WE ARE AMONG THE 20 COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD THAT HAVE A PRODUCTIVE NETWORK RICH IN COMPLEXITY AND SOPHISTICATION.”
IT HAS BEEN ONE YEAR SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN ELECTED PRESIDENT OF UIA. CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR MAIN CHALLENGES AND ACHIEVEMENTS DURING THIS PERIOD?
Since I took office, our priority has been to provide the National Government with proactive proposals towards the strategy of intelligent international insertion of Argentina. We are also focused on promoting SMEs, regional development, intensification of productive and technological development processes as well as balanced tax system that supports federalism and production.
The various departments at UIA have actively worked on the analysis and preparation of complementary proposals that were set out in the new law that contemplates the Investment Promotion Regime for MSMEs. UIA has also proposed to encourage investment by eliminating distortions and rationalizing local taxation to balance the tax burden. This has been achieved by granting incentives to companies that invest in productive activities and we were pleased that some of these issues have been included by the National Government in its tax reform.
AS UIA CONTINUES TO WORK CLOSELY WITH THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT TO REFORM THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR, WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ACHIEVE ITS FULL POTENTIAL?
The industrial sector has presented on average positive growth results, and we remain expectant to other segments that are not having the same dynamism as others like concrete, construction materials, steel or automotive. Some key competitiveness aspects remain to be improved such as logistics access and cost of financing as well as tax pressure and energy costs. It is important to highlight the improvements in the business climate and the increasing links with the international community. For this growth process to continue, it is essential to deepen the connections between industry, agriculture and services. It is through the convergence of sectors that the Argentine economy can be strengthened in the long-term. This is the first foundational step to design an intelligent international insertion.
The reclassification of Argentina as an emerging market according to MSCI is good news for the country and its possibilities. However, we believe that particular attention is needed in providing new financing lines and capital market instruments for SMEs. We have to continue to focus on easing the challenges facing the productive sector of our country which is fundamental to our country’s economic growth. There are already some results from the National Government such as the tax reform approved in December 2017 which reduces tax distortions, both national, provincial (through the Fiscal Pact) and non-wage labor costs. The National Government is committed to continuing to implement reforms that improve the country’s competitiveness.
UIA HAS BEEN A SUPPORTER OF AN INTELLIGENT INTERNATIONAL INSERTION OF ARGENTINA INTO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS?
Our efforts are moving in the direction of promoting economic activities with increased added-value and knowledge-intensive base that uses state-of-the-art technology, serving as the basis for sustaining a global integration for Argentina. This also means being clear about the different ways in which commercial relationships are deployed. In that sense, another axis is to make our production more sophisticated in order to sell to the world what it is consuming. The advances of Industry 4.0 allow us to advance in that direction towards a production based on dynamic changes and trends. The international insertion is also the complementarity between agriculture, industry and services. From this virtuous dynamic, today, Argentina can confirm that it already has important advances in sectors such as agricultural machinery, packaging, food and beverages, among others.
THE 2018 ANNUAL INDUSTRIAL CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY UIA HAS CHOSEN “INDUSTRY 4.0” AS ITS MAIN THEME. HOW CAN ARGENTINA’S INDUSTRIAL SECTOR BE BETTER PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE?
The Argentine industry is taking ownership of opportunities offered by the new revolution of multipurpose technologies. We belong to a productive transformation wave that will allow us to gain new places that are gestating in global commerce. Among other issues, we refer to adding aggregated value to production processes and scaling along global value chains. For the process to continue to evolve positively, a series of proactive and bold policy initiatives will be necessary and will enable dialogue and consensus among the different actors involved. The role of National Government will be paramount, not only in articulation but also outlining productive policies aimed at accelerating, encouraging and enabling technological changes that will imply new labor, productive development policies, labor and educational system.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS INTERESTED IN INVESTING IN ARGENTINA’S ECONOMY AND PARTICULARLY IN ITS INDUSTRIAL SECTOR?
Our country has a key asset on which UIA builds its institutional work every day: we are among the 20 countries in the world that have a productive network rich in complexity and sophistication. This is the indispensable basis to think about how we are going to face industrial and development challenges that this century proposes. As the institution that led the B20 this year, our international role, as well as our constant and permanent participation in the main world business forums, shows that Argentina has an important role to play in a constantly changing world.