On the economic significance of Buenos Aires
How important are non-traditional markets for boosting investment in the city of Buenos Aires?
ALEJO BALTASAR RODRÍGUEZ CACIO: Our intention is to strengthen existing relations with traditional partners like Chile and, at the same time, explore new potential markets to attract further investment in our city. To that end, our first trip was to the UAE, as this country represents a great opportunity for the exportation of Buenos Aires services. The UAE is a great example of how to grow the economy largely based on innovation and technology, with a long-term vision on how to develop cities in the next 15 to 20 years. Given Argentine talent in these areas, the potential synergies and commercial bonds we can create are quite significant. Dubai is a commercial hub for countries in the Middle East, which means that establishing links with the Emirates would give Argentina and Buenos Aires preferential access to such markets.
What steps need to be taken in order to help local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs increase their exports?
RODRÍGUEZ CACIO: There are examples of Argentine companies today that were conceived and developed with a clear aim to export, as is the case in the videogame and software industries. We work closely with SMEs, showcasing these examples and providing assistance with the first steps in the process, building a strong and clear understanding of target countries. To address the need for a better circulation of information regarding investment opportunities in Buenos Aires, we recently launched “Observatorio Económico”, a report that generates useful information for decision-making. One of our latest reviews showed that 96% of all exports coming from Buenos Aires are services, representing 7.2% of local GDP and generating more than $7bn in 2016. Buenos Aires became the first city in Latin America to measure service exports, and we are confident this will help the local government better understand our economy, which in turn will allow us to draft better public policies.
What are the main projects in terms of infrastructure and connectivity in Buenos Aires?
RODRÍGUEZ CACIO: The city’s transport infrastructure will see great improvements in the immediate future, with several projects being launched by the local Ministry of Urban Development and Transport. One of these projects is the Paseo del Bajo underpass, which will connect the northern and southern highways in the city, greatly improving connectivity within the city and the province. Additionally, the Regional Express Network aims to connect all train stations in the city with 16 km of above- and underground networks, making it the biggest transport infrastructure project in recent years. About 3.5m people commute to Buenos Aires each day for work or study, and this project is instrumental in helping alleviate the transport needs of this influx. Other projects include the continuous development of the Subte (metro) and the Metrobus, which has already been successfully rolled out.
How would you define the current level of cooperation and collaboration among different investment agencies across the country?
RODRÍGUEZ CACIO: investBA was founded in January 2017, and we have since worked to replicate the best practices of cities worldwide. However, we are just one part of the whole equation, and it is extremely important to work hand-in-hand with the Argentina Investment and Trade Promotion Agency. In a recent visit to Chile, we held meetings with real estate investors, businesses and investment funds in order to promote both Buenos Aires and Argentina as a whole. Additionally, there are several specific agreements in place with other investment agencies throughout the country to bring in higher levels of foreign trade and investment. We are at a crucial moment of political and economic transition in Argentina that requires unity and collaborative efforts. There are significant opportunities in many sectors of our economy; the challenge lies in regaining trust from international investors that has been lost in the last decade. In order to do so, we first need to send a strong message of unity across different spheres, and then create a productive and attractive business environment.