Interview : Juan Pablo Tripodi
What is the role of international trade in President Mauricio Macri’s economic development policy?
JUAN PABLO TRIPODI: Argentina is once again becoming an important global player, which means we must create the right conditions and tools to integrate ourselves into the international market. To achieve this, we have been working on an ambitious agenda that requires not only facilitating and attracting investments, but also strengthening the export competitiveness of Argentine companies. No country can grow, create employment and become a developed economy if it fails to attract investment and increase exports.
Promoting investment requires basic conditions, which President Macri’s government has worked to establish through the elimination of exchange controls, unification of the exchange rate, re-entrance to international markets, and renewal of a dialogue with the rest of the world. In addition, we launched the National Productive Plan, which aims to modernise the country, maintain a healthy economy, achieve fiscal balance and lower inflation while protecting the most-vulnerable populations, improve infrastructure and connectivity to reduce logistics and energy costs, lower non-wage labour costs, cut taxes, step up competitiveness, de-bureaucratise and intelligently integrate into the world.
What are the most strategic sectors to invest in?
TRIPODI: We are developing investment projects in all sectors; however, some are receiving more attention, such as oil and gas. This sector has been a top priority since President Macri took office and announced a $50bn public investment. Following this, the agreement to promote Vaca Muerta – the second-largest reserve of shale gas and fourth-largest of shale oil worldwide – entailed further capital outlays and substantially improved production costs. The unconventional energy segment is experiencing a revolution, as the output of all the Vaca Muerta wells have exceeded expectations. The development of this basin will allow us to quickly re-export gas, and by the early 2020s we will have the most-competitive energy value in Latin America.
Argentina has opportunities that attract significant investor interest. In a world of exponential population growth, we are a key food producer; we have abundant mineral and water reserves; and we offer optimal conditions to develop renewable energies, such as wind and solar. In addition, Argentina has skilled labour and is a regional leader in the knowledge-based services industry. Infrastructure – especially with the increasing implementation of public-private partnership projects – is also entering a phase of notable development.
Which sectors do you expect to raise exports?
TRIPODI: As an investment and export agency, we are working to support trade across a diversified portfolio, with particular export potential in the manufacturing of agricultural goods – which includes value-added food and beverages, and excludes commodities – as well as industrial products and professional services.
There is clear potential to increase agricultural exports, especially given the growth in demand from China and other countries in Asia. Meanwhile, stepping up industrial production will require finding niche industries in which Argentina has a global competitive advantage. For example, local companies have become parts suppliers for international sports car manufacturers. We must study and replicate such success stories in other sectors. Lastly, the services sector – specifically knowledge-based services – was previously underdeveloped, but now represents one-third of exports.
There are notable investment opportunities in all these activities, and we are developing a variety of related projects. In addition to promoting these industries, we aim to assist investors in their efforts to participate in international markets. We are working to minimise obstacles by simplifying processes, eliminating bureaucratic hurdles and bridging different governmental agencies to achieve our goals more efficiently.
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