By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Ms. Kim Jung-mi, Kim Sua
Ambassador Jorge Roballo of Argentina in Seoul said, “Currently, Argentina is executing its Plan on Public-Private Partnership and this program was launched in November 2017 and it already comprises 60 projects totaling over US$30 billion in investments for infrastructure works such as railways, roads, tunnels, bridges, housing, power generation and energy.”
Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language print and Internet news publications, Ambassador Roballo then stated: “ The Argentine PPP provides extra incentives for companies who participate early in the Program. Companies that join the program later will not receive the same benefits.
Therefore, NOW it is the right time to invest in Argentina. Our government continues to work and implement economic policies that strengthen the confidence of national and foreign investors in the new business and investment environment of my country.”
Ambassador Roballo discussed a wide range of topics at the interview conducted on the occasion of the National Day of Argentina on May 25, 2018, which, among other topics, included the National Day of Argentina, recent developments between Korea and his country, and introduction to the Head of Government Argentina. Details of the interview follow:
Question: Congratulations on the National Day of your esteemed country. Please introduce in detail the National Day for our readers.
Answer: Every year, on May 25th, the Argentine Republic celebrate the “May Revolution” that was a week-long series of events that took place from May 18 to 25, 1810, in Buenos Aires, then capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a Spanish colony that included the territories of present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The result of that “Revolution” was the removal of the Viceroy (Spanish envoy) and the establishment of the first local government on May 25 called the “Primera Junta”, composed by notables of the city. Although no formal Declaration of Independence was issued at the time and the “Primera Junta” continued to rule in the name of the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII (deposed in 1808 by the French Emperor Napoleon who occupied Spain for a few years), it was the first successful revolution in South American Independence process.
After a long negotiation process, on July 9th, 1816 Argentina declared the Independence of the Spanish Crown and became a free and sovereign State.
Q: What are the important developments scheduled between Korea and your country, including the possible visit of your Head of State/Government to Korea now that Korea has President Moon Jae-in as a relatively new President?
A: After the successful visit to the Republic of Korea of the Vice President of the Argentine Republic H.E. Gabriela MICHETTI in May 2016, a new chapter on the bilateral agenda had started and as a result both countries initiated a fruitful approach in different fields, such as dissemination of investment opportunities in Argentina in various sectors, the negotiations aiming to open the Korean market for our products such as beef, poultry, seafood and citric, etc.
On December 1st 2017, Argentina took over the presidency of the G20, the world’s preeminent forum for economic, financial, and political cooperation. We are proud to have this opportunity to show to the world our commitment to international cooperation, multilateralism and global governance.
Argentina seeks to play a constructive role in finding solutions to global challenges, has a leading role in the development of the agenda and will try to build a multilateral consensus in which all countries commit to fair and sustainable economic development that generates opportunities for everyone.
On May 20-21 2018, the G20 Foreign Minister’s meeting will take place and the Head of State & Government’s Summit is scheduled to be held on November 30th and December 1st, 2018, both in the city of Buenos Aires. We look forward to the participation of the H.E. President Moon Jae-in, together with all other Heads of State of the twenty major world economies, in order to strengthen the cooperation and results of the G20 Summit in Argentina.
Also, during 2018 we expect to receive several visits, not only of economic and business delegations but also of high level officials of the Government in order to promote business and deeper economic cooperation with the Republic of Korea, such as the recent visit of the Deputy Minister for Trade. We also hope that President Macri could soon pay a State Visit to Korea in order to exchange visions and projects with President Moon Jae-in and his Government with the aim to deepen our bilateral relations.
Q: What is the current volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: Bilateral trade between Korea and Argentina totaled USD 1,444 million in 2017, which marks a decrease of 11.3 % compared to the previous year. Argentina exported goods to Korea worth USD 607 million and its imports from Korea were of USD 837 million, which resulted in a 2017 trade surplus in favor of Korea of USD 230 million.
Among the exports from Argentina to Korea, there was a significant increase in zinc ores, carbonates, frozen shrimp, combed wool. Among the imports from Korea, there was an increase of LCD screens, vehicles, automobile parts and hand tools.
Argentina also exports animal feeds, edible oils, frozen fish, ores and inorganic compound to Korean market and more than 96 % of these consist of primary products. Although agriculture and mining products dominate Argentine exports to Korea, for the first time in 2016 we shipped FMD (foot-and-mouth disease) vaccine to Korea, as part of our efforts to diversify our exports. Today, the vaccine is in the top-ten list of our exports to Korea.
The trade outlook for 2018 looks very promising. Argentina is making an effort to become more integrated with the world and Korea has shown a great increase in its international trade. As a result, we expect to strengthen and increase the volume of our bilateral trade by not only favoring the current export sectors but also by adding new products and industries.
Q: What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?
A: Currently, Argentina is executing its Plan on Public-Private Partnership (PPP). This program was launched in November 2017 and it already comprises 60 projects totaling over US$ 30 billion in investments for infrastructure works such as railways, roads, tunnels, bridges, housing, power generation and energy.
The Argentine PPP provides extra incentives for companies who participate early in the Program. Companies that join the program later will not receive the same benefits.
Therefore, NOW it is the right time to invest in Argentina. Our government continues to work and implement economic policies that strengthen the confidence of national and foreign investors in the new business and investment environment of my country.
Moreover, we recognize the vast experience of the government of the Republic of Korea in the development of infrastructure projects, the expertise of its EPC companies and the capacities of banks and other Korean lenders. Therefore, there is a natural complement between the investment plans in Argentina and the business opportunities for Korean companies.
With regard to increasing cooperation between our private sectors, let me comment on the high potential that exists with IT services, software industry and startups development. Among the capacities that Argentina is developing are bioinformatics, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, automation (robotic control systems) and micro and nanotechnologies related to electronics. No other Latin or South American country offers so much opportunity for the tech sector.
By way of background, four of the six Latin American Unicorns (technological startups valued at more than USD 1 billion) were launched in Argentina: Globant; Mercado Libre, Despegar.com and OLX. They developed their businesses by creating software for worldwide companies, e-commerce, travel and tourism, and currently have associations with international technological companies such as Google, Expedia and E-bay, among others.
On the other hand, Korea has robust startups companies with successful international development and with high potential to penetrate more of the Latin American market. Hence, combining forces will bring a “win-win” scenario for IP companies of both countries. Mutual cooperation will allow Argentine startups to make business in the Korean and Asian market as well as for Korean startups to deepen their business in Argentina and Latin America.
Q: Who are the Korean companies actively engaged in the promotion of economic cooperation between Korea and your esteemed country?
A: Generally speaking, Korean brands are well known in Argentina. Everyone knows the great names of Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia.
In addition to Chaebeol, other Korean companies are making business in Argentina. “Hansung Enterprise” and “Dongnam” have been participating in the fishery business. Recently, “Ceragem” and “Nuga Best” began providing health care services in Argentina and “Careside” is importing a significant volume of FMD vaccines to Korea.
Q: Please introduce your Head of Government in detail, including major achievements.
A: H. E. Mauricio Macri is the current President of Argentina, in office since December 2015. A former civil engineer he was previously the Head of Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires for two periods, from 2007 to 2015. Before, he was President of the international renowned and popular football club “Boca Juniors”.
Mauricio Macri started his administration with several economic difficulties carried from previous governments. One of the first economic policies of his Administration was the elimination of the currency controls, the removal of the export quotas and tariffs for corn and wheat, and a contractive monetary policy aimed at reducing inflation, etc.
The new Administration also negotiated with the holdouts and ended the foreign debt default, thus putting the house in order and giving the country a chance to return to the international capital markets and benefit the national economy.
His Government aims to increase trade relations mainly with North & Latin America, European Union, Asia and Africa, in order to find new markets for our products, attract foreign direct investments thus, increasing national growth and more employment for our citizens. In the process of modernization of the government structure and facilitating commerce and better economic relations with the world, his Administration is also seeking to increase the digital economy in the country.
Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country?
A: Argentina has several tourist destinations that attract people from all around the world. Actually, it is the second most visited country in South America. In 2017 almost 31.000 Koreans visited the country where they could experience a variety of landscapes, climates, food and diverse natural wonders.
In all areas of the country tourist will find outstanding natural attractions.
In the northeast, in the border with Brazil, you will find the world famous “Iguazu Falls”, one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature”, the jungle and the wetlands.
In the west, marking the border with Chile, the majestic Andes mountain range, along its rich valleys with olives, fruits and vineyards in the provinces of La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza, where famous Argentine wines are produced, including our world famous “Malbec”.
The eastern part of the country has very long coastline over the Atlantic Ocean, where great and abundant rivers fall into the ocean, with extensive sandy beaches and cliffs along the coast.
In the southern part of the country, the majestic Patagonia, offering you indescribable valleys, lakes, snowy pics and glaciers, like Perito Moreno, Upsala and others, that brings thousands of international tourists every year. This is also a great region for flying fishing (rainbow trout, salmon, etc)
We should not forget the great city of Buenos Aires, located in the central-eastern part of the country by the Rio de la Plata, with its beautiful architecture, outstanding culinary experiences, active culture agenda and an amazing history, always ready to offer to visitors a magical evening of tango.
Argentina just launched a new program that might catch the attention of Korean tourists: the “Corredor Ecoturístico del Litoral” (Coastal Ecotourism Corridor). The program promotes nature and bird watching and trekking and Korean tourists can explore rivers, jungles, lagoons, national parks and one of the most important wetlands in the country, “Esteros del Ibera” from an ecotourism approach with sustainable tourism activities.
In addition, throughout the country, Korean visitors will find modern infrastructure, low cost and regular airlines flying to each of the destinations, hotel accommodation options from luxury five-star hotels to Youth hostels and tourist information offices deployed throughout the country
Q: Please introduce yourself in detail, including your career, family and hobbies
A: (Editor’s note: Please, see the CV of the Ambassador attached toward the end of this interview.)
Q: Please add whatever other details that we might have left out from our questionnaire.
A: Argentina is experiencing a solid recovery after a transition process in 2016. The Government of President Macri has acted quickly to implement relevant reforms and the Argentine economy has rapidly improved and it is expected to continue growing in 2018 at around 3 %, as a result of the solid and lasting foundations we are building since December 2015.
The Administration of President Macri has reconstructed the business environment, reestablished trust and recovered international credibility. As a result, domestic and foreign companies find in Argentina a prosperous country for business opportunities and amazing investments projects.
Soon, South Korea and MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay & Uruguay) will start negotiations for an eventual FTA (Free Trade Agreement) that will contribute to an increase of Korean Trade, Investment and Cooperation with our region.
Therefore, as Ambassador of the Embassy of the Argentine Republic to Korea I encourage Korean companies to familiarize with the actual argentine reality, start making more business and show interest to develop and implement new investment projects in my great country. Argentina is back..!!!
Curriculum Vita of Ambassador Roballo of Argentina:
Name: Jorge José Alberto ROBALLO
Place, Date of birth: Oberá, Misiones, October 1st, 1952.-
1969: High School Degree - Escuela Provincial de Comercio Nro.1 - Oberá
1973: Degree in Business Administration - Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE).
1973: Degree in Finances - UADE
1975: Chartered Accountant - UADE
English, Portuguese and French. Has a working knowledge of Italian, German and Japanese.
1975-1980: Senior Auditor at Deloitte, Haskin & Sells Auditing Company –
Promotions and responsibilities within the Foreign Ministry:
1981 (Feb): Joined the National Foreign Service Institute (ISEN).
1982: Graduated from the National Foreign Service Institute (ISEN).
Joined the National Foreign Service with the rank of Third Secretary.
1985: Second Secretary
1989: First Secretary
2002 (Jan): Minister Plenipotentiary
Assignments within the Foreign Minister:
1982: National Bureau of Protocol – Protocol Department.
1986: Posted to the Argentine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
1990: National Bureau of Protocol – Head of Protocol Department.
Deputy Consul General - Berlin (FRG).
1995 (Nov): Argentine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan - Head of Political Department
1999 (Mar): National Bureau of Protocol - Head of Official & State Visits Dept.
1999 (Nov): Deputy Chief of Protocol
2000 (Mar): Cultural Affairs Division
2001 (Mar): Asia & Oceania Division - Head of Japan Desk
2002 (Ene): Deputy Chief of Protocol
2003 (Apr): Appointed as Argentine Ambassador to the Dominican Republic
2009 (Ago): Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship.
2010 (Jun): Argentine Host Country Secretariat - Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee for the “XXXIV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM)”. Buenos Aires 2011
2012 (May): Charge d’Affaires a.i. to the Republic of Azerbaijan (in charge of the opening of the Argentine Embassy in Baku)
2013 (Mar): Charge d’Affaires a.i. to the Arab Republic of Egypt
2013 (Nov): Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to the Republic of Korea.
1982-1985: Member of several “Staff & Support Committees” in Official & State
1990-1993: Visits paid by the Argentine President to several foreign countries.
1984: Insignia of the Aztec Order - México
1984: Official Cross - Order of Isabel the Catholic - Spain
1985: Official - Order of Merit - Italy
1985: Knight - Order of San Carlos - Colombia
1992: Order of the Libertador Fifth Class - Venezuela
1992: Commander - Sovereign Military Order of Malta
1993: Commander - Order Simon Bolívar - Bolivia
2000: Commander - Order of Merit - Chile
2009: Great Cross Silver Plaque - Order of Duarte, Sanchez & Mella, Dominican Republic