The following are excerpts from a recent interview with Ambassador Jorge Roballo of Argentina in Seoul conducted by The Korea Post media for publication for the purpose of promotion of cooperation and friendship between Korea and Argentina.—Ed.
Question: What are the major development plans of your esteemed country in economic and political fields in the 2017?
Answer: The new administration of President Mauricio Macri, who took over on December 10th, 2015, found the Argentine economy very deteriorated, with a reduced level of activity in the last two quarters of 2015.
The problems stayed in the macroeconomic imbalances, the obstacles to the normal functioning of the exchange market, the restrictions on foreign trade and the impossibility of accessing to international financial markets, as the most important factors.
Facing this situation, significant measures were adoptedimmediately, such as the re‐establishment of a single free exchange market with a flexible exchange rate; the elimination and/or easing of restrictions on foreign trade (both on exports and imports); a contractive monetary policy aimed at reducing inflation; the way out of public debt default and the recovery of international financial market access.
Therefore, it is expected that these strong measures implemented during 2016 will trigger a recovery in the level of the economic activity during 2017, which should be reflected in improved levels of consumption and investment, exports growth and a considerable decline in the inflation rate within the context of a normalized economy. According to the IMF, a 2.8% growth is expected in 2017, in a context of slow global growth that exposes the world economy to negative risks.
Q: Any promotional plans for further development of relations between Korea and Argentina, including the possible dispatch of an economic delegation to Korea?
A: In 2016, Argentine Vice-President, Mrs. Gabriela Michetti, visited Korea on her first tour in East Asia, showing the importance that Argentina gives to the relations with this country. During her official visit, the Embassy organized a “Seminar on Investment opportunities” in Argentina, with the presence of the Vice Ministers of Finances, Commerce, Industry and Mining, who accompanied Vice-President Michetti to spread the news of great business opportunities in my country.
In 2017 we expect to have the visit ofnew economic and business delegations to continue the dissemination of investment opportunities in various productive sectors in Argentina, in the form of seminars anddirect meetings with Korean companies’ representatives.
Also, we are planning to hold in Seoul the “6thJoint Economic & Commercial Committee” meeting sometimes during the second quarter of 2017. The argentine delegation will be presided over by the Vice-Foreign Minister, who will also be accompanied by an important businessmen delegation.
The Embassy is working hard with the Ministries of Agriculture, MSDF and the Quarantine Agency (QIA) in order to overcome the difficulties that arises during the intricate and bureaucratic process of opening the Korean market for our products, such as beef, poultry, sea food and citric. The argentine beef is found in any supermarket in Europe and other countries and we would like to give the Koreans the opportunity to taste it properly. The good Malbec wines are already in the market and are becoming one the favorites of Korean wine drinkers.
Q: Please introduce the Head of Government of your country with a copy of the portrait photograph of the Head of Government.
A: The Head of State of the Argentine Republic is Ing. Mauricio MACRI. He sworn in on December 10th, 2015 for a period of four years, with the possibility of been reelected for another four years.
Q: In what areas of the economy where Korean companies are welcome in your country..? Do you have any specific Korean business organizations in mind favorably considered for economic cooperation with your country?
A: Argentina is developing a huge investment program, which can be attractive for Korean Companies and, in that regard, we work closely with majors Korean business associations, such as KOIMA, KOTRA and KCCI.
Argentina has identified investment opportunities for approximately USD 240 Bn across multiple sectors, both at federal and provincial levels. The largest opportunities are found in the Energy, Mining, Transportation, Telecommunications and Infrastructure sectors.
There is a USD 35 Bn investment plan in power generation which includes an increase in 20% of renewable energy sources by 2025, implying 10 GW of additional generation capacity. In mining,thereis a plan of USD 32 Bnfor investmentopportunities to begin production on 44 highly attractive projects that includesLithium, Boron, Silver, Gold, Copper, Lead and Zinc. In transportation, the business opportunities reach USD 80 Bn in improving ground, air and maritime infrastructure national wide. In Federal infrastructure, Public-private partnerships plays a crucial role of the plan, where there are opportunities for USD 60 Bn for developing projects on water and sanitation works, land irrigation systems, health and educational facilities. Also, in Oil and Gas, there is a USD 20 Bn annual investment opportunity to participate in projects connected with conventional resources across the country as well as the vast shale oil and gas resources in the early stages of development.
Finally, the government has made cell phone/internet access expansion development a priority which is opening a number of opportunities for private investment, including the expansion of the cell phone coverage and the fiber optic network, reaching USD 2 Bn in business opportunities.
So, in all this sectors we are trying to draw the attention of Korean companies to start doing business with Argentina. In this regard, I would like to mention the presence of POSCO in the northern provinces of Jujuy and Salta with the intention to do business in the mining sector. There are -no doubt- great opportunities to improve our economic and commercial relations.
Q: Please state whatever other important details we might have left out from the above questionnaire.
A: Argentina is seen by foreign companies and governments as a thriving place for investment and development of productive investments.
-President Mauricio Macri has rebuilt trust and confidence for an appropriate business environment, showing commitment to foreign investment by promoting policies that favor the introduction of productive investment in Argentina.
The business opportunities in Argentina are based on our diversified economy, our abundance of rich natural resources and skilled human resources as well as an infrastructure system that is wide spread throughout all of the country.
Argentina invites more Korean based companies to develop business opportunities in the country.
Argentina is reconnected to the world.Argentina is back on tracks!
Rediscover and invest in the new Argentina!