Saturday, July 11, 2020

OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 26-12-2017 16:08

B20 offers a world of opportunities for local firms and sectors

Argentina’s presidency of the G20 offers our nation's productive sectors and their representatives a unique chance to closely observe and participate in the critical debates taking shape in the global entrepreneurial arena.

Argentina’s presidency of the G20 offers our nation’s productive sectors and their representatives a unique chance to closely observe and participate in the critical debates taking shape in the global entrepreneurial arena. The vehicle for this will be the Business 20 (B20) international business summit, which will bring key business leaders from the G20 member nations to our shores. 

Formally, the B20 works toward influencing public policies, suggesting recommendations for the final document that will emerge from the G20’s member states at the end of 2018. But the event should also have a good impact locally. In theory, the forum will help our local entrepreneurs to better understand the key challenges facing the global business community and to understand the priorities that lie ahead, how to diversify sources of investment and commerce, and how to accelerate the process of defining a vision of productive development. 

The group’s activity has already begun. There was a recent launch event in Rosario, where the B20’s German chair in 2017, Jürgen Heraeus, passed the baton onto Daniel Funes de Rioja, Argentina’s own chair for 2018. With Argentina’s sherpa, Pedro Villagra Delgado, in attendance too, the event helped to introduce local businessmen to the G20’s activities.

Germany’s theme for its presidency was "Shaping an interconnected world." If Argentina’s own theme – “Building consensus for fair and sustainable development” – is to be successful, the B20 will have a crucial role to play. 

For example, through active engagement and interaction with their international peers, local representatives will be able to internalise the international business and production debates that take place in the G20 environment and understand how they will impact on our own local economy. The G20 will discuss complex themes such as the future of jobs, the challenge of technological change, the instruments to finance infrastructure projects and e-commerce, for example, and the vision and experience of productive sectors will be invaluable in ensuring that these debates hold a sense of realism and practicality. 

On another level, the opportunities provided by the B20 can help to accelerate the implementation of the government’s ‘diverse horizons’ approach to foreign policy, which seeks to maintain positive relations simultaneously with our neighbours, established powers, and emerging ones. The productive component of this strategy entails diversifying the sources of foreign direct investment. This is true for the most evident sectors – infrastructure, energy, manufacturing – as well as for the growing sectors such as "green metals," lithium and copper, renewable energy, shale oil and shale gas. Through formal and informal contact in the context of the G20, there should be opportunities to generate a wider diversification of export destinations for our competitive sectors, at a global and regional level.

The B20 can also contribute by further involving the productive sectors in the crafting of a development vision that accurately includes the role of exports and foreign direct investment. As we face a complex environment at a global level, it becomes increasingly important to understand what Argentina's real and potential export capabilities truly are. Then we must determine what are the measures that must be taken in order to fully realise this potential. The government must work closely with the globally and regionally competitive sectors. This is an even more urgent issue if we consider that exports barely grew in 2016, and will not grow substantially in 2017.  

Active participation and leadership through the B20 is a fantastic opportunity for Argentina’s more dynamic productive sectors – those which are export-orientated and have aspirations of international expansion, for example – to play an integral part in our nation’s foreign policy. By assuming responsibilities through the group, our businesses and their representatives will be able to gain greater knowledge, legitimacy and influence. 

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Patricio Carmody

Patricio Carmody

Patricio Carmody is author of "Looking for Consensus at the End of the World: Towards an Argentine Foreign Policy With Consensus (2015-2027)," published by CARI and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

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