Interview : Miguel Acevedo

How have technological advances transformed the landscape, and how are domestic industrial businesses adapting to this shift?

MIGUEL ACEVEDO: Industry 4.0 is not the future; it is already here. Technological change is happening at a very fast pace. Factories have new machines and robots, which means that less labour is required in a wide variety of sectors. This is a global challenge, and we must adapt to a new and continually changing situation. Local industrial employers know this and act accordingly, always within possibilities.

The country is working to address this challenge through education, with a long process of adaptation for our younger generations, as well as a clear focus on the use of digital tools to access a vast amount of information available online.

The private sector plays a decisive role in this regard, as companies are experts in using these tools to enhance their human capital. We also need to join forces with labour unions, anticipating regulatory changes that may allow companies to reach their full potential in the use of technology in their facilities.

Complete technological implementation in industry has begun and is unstoppable. Therefore, we must clarify how to go from being simple observers of change to active contributors in the paradigm shift.

How have economic fluctuations affected long-term productive investments?

ACEVEDO: A stable regulatory business framework is the most immediate need. The recent tax reform carried out by President Mauricio Macri’s administration will address this, giving greater predictability in terms of the taxes levied on companies.

The economy has experienced many fluctuations in recent decades, but it has managed to progress regardless of the circumstances. The latest episode with the depreciation of the peso is an example of this volatility, which resulted in IMF intervention.

Several significant investments were announced upon President Macri’s arrival in the Casa Rosada, but many of these did not take place as expected, which is understandable, given the process of normalisation that the country is undergoing. Positive progress is being made, but we need considerable time to consolidate long-term productive investments.

In this process, national companies have a primordial role to play: they are the first to adapt to economic, political and social changes, so they know how and where to invest. This will steadily lead to greater confidence of foreign investors, who finally have sufficient opportunities to participate in the economy. Argentina’s recent designation as an emerging market may help further attract foreign investment.

What will help develop inland regions and increase their contribution to GDP?

ACEVEDO: The most important aspect underlying these regions’ development is transport, given Argentina’s geographical extension. In the past this was not a government priority, but the authorities now have a plan to fully develop the air transport sector. The Airplane Revolution plan aims to boost the number of air passengers, particularly to interior regions. This has led to expectations that related industries, such as the tourism sector, will also develop.

Moreover, the cargo train concept – which can transport up to 3500 tonnes of products such as minerals, oil and grains – is being redesigned as part of the Belgrano Cargas Plan. The government is working to develop the inland economy by making substantial investments in this initiative, helping boost connectivity with other domestic export infrastructure. It will be fundamental that this cargo train connect with private ports, as approximately 80% of exports use private ports on the Paraná River. This is especially important given the lack of public investment in past decades, which has caused inefficiencies.