Juan Pablo Tripodi
PRESIDENT OF THE ARGENTINA INVESTMENT AND TRADE PROMOTION AGENCY
Argentina 2017 I Economy I Leader
BIOGRAPHY He graduated as an industrial engineer from the Institute of Technology of Buenos Aires and holds a Masters in Management from Stanford University in California. Prior to joining the Agency, he spent 20 years in the Techint group, where he held various positions until being appointed General Manager of the Ternium international area.
“ARGENTINA IS IN A UNIQUE MOMENT, FACING A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO REINSERT OURSELVES AGAIN IN THE WORLD AFTER MANY YEARS OF BEING ISOLATED, OUTSIDE THE MAP OF INVESTMENT AND BUSINESS.”
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVES AND PRIORITIES FOR 2017/18?
In these first 19 months, the Agency’s team contributed to re-positioning Argentina as an investment destination to the world and made essential advances in promoting business and training exporters. Since its creation in February 2016, we have redefined the strategy of the former Exportar Foundation and set up a new structure that actively works to reintegrate Argentina into the world through the attraction of productive investment and the transformation of SMEs into exporting SMEs.
We have participated in national and international forums and missions to the leading countries that originate foreign investment to present our country’s opportunities. We have organized the first Business and Investment Forum of Argentina, involving 1,688 companies from 68 countries and more than 4,191 participants, including over 1,000 CEOs. As a result, until July 31, 2017, 584 investment projects were announced for 453 domestic and foreign companies for more than USD 69 billion. More than 50% of the projects announced are already under execution or implemented.
In the area of international trade, the Agency focused on redefining the strategy to achieve the integral development of exports, assisting more than 3,000 Argentine SMEs throughout the entire export process. It is also working on the National Export Plan and advancing in different promotion strategies to bring Argentine products to the world, for example, with the Buy Argentina exportable offer platform and the Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba. In this new stage, the Agency will focus on identifying, along with the private ecosystem, obstacles that affect the investment and export process, and propose alternatives to make it easier and less bureaucratic.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE AGENCY’S INITIATIVES TO REDUCE THE COST OF INVESTING IN ARGENTINA?
After many years of being completely isolated, outside the map of investment and business, Argentina is in a unique moment, facing a great opportunity to be reinserted in the world. In the first months of government, President Macri took difficult but necessary measures to normalize the economy, including: the unification and lifting of restrictions of the exchange rate; standardization of imports and reduction of export retentions; resolution of the conflict with the holdouts and the return to the international financial markets; monetary policy to gradually control inflation and fiscal deficit clear.
The President’s reforms also included changes in the income tax; elimination of the obligation for capital to remain in the country for 120 days; autonomy of the Central Bank and respect for the independence of the judicial and legislative branches; transparency in the management and recovery of the quality and accuracy of public statistics, among others. A series of measures were also promoted to encourage investment, employment and performance of SMEs, including the following laws: SMEs, National Autoparts, Entrepreneurs, Competition (in Congress) and the Provider Development Law (in preparation). Six agreements were signed to promote strategic sectors: Vaca Muerta, automotive, motor vehicles, construction, textile and footwear industry, biotechnology. In addition, the Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade (BICE) was relaunched as a real development bank.
Trade and investment negotiations were pursued with special emphasis on Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Colombia, Qatar, Canada, China, the United States and South Korea. We have reopened relations with the WTO and Argentina will host the summit in December 2017. These efforts have begun to bear fruit and in June the INDEC confirmed that the economy began to grow by 4%, the best in almost two years, with the creation of almost 40,000 new jobs and reaching 10% exports growth. Of the 12 sectors of the economy, 11 showed year-on-year growth in June. These results put an end to recession and allows us to lay the foundations for the recovery of consumption and employment generation. Inflation has also began to fall with the Central Bank meeting its goals and in May 2017, monthly inflation was 1,3%, half than compared to April. Inter-annual inflation was 23,9%, 12 points below inflation in 2016 and this year we will have the lowest inflation since 2009. Between 2015 and 2016 the fiscal deficit was reduced from 5,2% to 4,6% of GDP.
THE NATIONAL PRODUCTIVE PLAN IS AMONG THE MOST IMPORTANT INITIATIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT TO TRANSFORM ARGENTINA. WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THIS INITIATIVE?
The government will continue to work sector by sector, throughout the entire value chain, to define clear rules and agree on a long-term collective vision while implementing measures to promote both investment and exports. We are working interministerially to improve the competitiveness of our industrial sector and regional economies, so that products reach the world with better conditions. The National Productive Plan is expected to boost production, accelerate growth and achieve full employment and better quality of life for Argentines. This plan is based on eight key areas to improve competitiveness: reduction of the cost of capital; improvement of human capital and labor productivity; infrastructure and energy; innovation and technology; fiscal equity and efficiency; defense of competition and the transparency of markets; intelligent international integration; administrative facilitation and debureaucratization. Argentina needs to accelerate growth and increase productivity to become a developed, high-wage economy, with employment and intelligently integrated into the world.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS INTERESTED IN ARGENTINA?
Argentina is in a unique moment, facing a great opportunity to reinsert ourselves again in the world after many years of being isolated, outside the map of investment and business. In the last year and a half, the government has taken very important steps to rebuild confidence with the international community, to normalize the economy and to be able to grow and develop again. The mission of the Agency is to facilitate investment processes and promote exports. We want to assist investors and exporters to understand the opportunities that our country presents and accompany the companies in the investment and export process, with clear rules of game, transparency and confidence.