Interview: Mauricio Macri
What sectors of the Colombian economy are of greatest interest to your government?
MAURICIO MACRI: I would like to highlight that we have great hope for the peace process in Colombia, and that we will continue to support this process through international observers, agricultural development and humanitarian involvement in the coming years. We are working within the healthy bilateral relationship we already have to reach a wider commercial agreement.
Due to the size of our economies, which are complementary, we believe that greater bilateral trade will generate more opportunities. For this reason, during my visit to Colombia in 2016 we made a commitment to advance trade and investment between both nations and expand the current Economic Complementation Agreement. To achieve this, we signed a number of agreements on issues such as logistics, rural and agricultural development, science, education and infrastructure. We also have a strong commitment to working on research and development programmes with a strong focus on the agricultural and food sectors. Furthermore, given that Colombia is an associate state of Mercosur, our work with them under the initiative of the bloc aims to strengthen the relationship between all countries within the region.
How will the economic reforms currently being implemented in Argentina help bolster foreign direct investment (FDI)?
MACRI: Our main objective for Argentina is to completely eradicate poverty. The state must help those in the greatest need, and the only sustainable way to reduce poverty is through job creation. To do so, it is mandatory to generate trust so we can attract local and international investments from big and small companies, as well as the public sector, and in infrastructure above all. In that regard, we have inherited a complicated legacy, as in the last five years the economy has not created jobs and we continue to suffer high inflation. With the measures we are taking, inflation is decreasing, some sectors are experiencing growth and, above all, we are starting to witness an increase in FDI.
It must also be said that we are moving rapidly forward with the restructuring of our economy. We eliminated currency exchange controls and stabilised the exchange rate; put an end to default; and restored the independence of the National Institute of Statistics and Census. We believe that the best approach to take towards building an inclusive economy is through trust, job creation and investment. In 2017 Argentina will host the annual World Economic Forum for Latin America, as Colombia did last year, and we look forward to showcasing the results of the reforms currently being implemented to the international business community.
What challenges are facing the region, and how can both countries collaborate to achieve positive political and economic outcomes?
MACRI: The main challenge is to guarantee environmentally sustainable, socially focused and prolonged economic growth, capable of giving every family in the region a better quality of life with more opportunities. This requires unity and commitment, and a coordinated effort between countries and the public and private sector, along with a consistent commitment to this strategy over the coming years. Public-private partnerships are a key part of this wider policy. We have to work together to prioritise key issues in the economy, such as infrastructure, innovation and the provision of quality public services. Ultimately, it is not just about being able to show improvements on paper or in economic statistics, it is about creating more tangible opportunities for Latin Americans and offering them a comfortable and peaceful life. Of equal importance is ensuring human development, maintaining peace within our nations, fighting drug trafficking and insecurity, and collectively tackling the biggest challenge of our time – global warming – by protecting our environment.
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