The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, confirmed that Argentina is “top of the list of countries eligible and capable of attracting investment” from the UK, as well as offering his country’s full support.
The Business Networking Day, organised by the Argentine Embassy in London and the British Argentine Chamber of Commerce to promote investments in Argentina, provided an opportunity to bring British and Argentine stakeholders together to make contacts. However, the focus soon turned to the UK’s endorsement of President Mauricio Macri’s efforts to achieve, through investment and employment, one of the three central objectives of his term in office: zero poverty.
"In many respects, our bilateral relations would be the most perfect in the world and an example of everything that two countries would want to see in the way they work together – Duncan said, before adding- in all the efforts you might be making you will have the full and enthusiastic support of this government on a diplomatic level, on a commercial level through UK export finance and organizations such as that and through the Department of International Trade ".
To conclude, he said he hopes, over the coming months, to learn of new deals, proposals, businesses, joint ventures and bilateral activity that is going to be heading the Argentina´s way from the UK.
“My message today is very simple: we want to see business between our two countries absolutely blossoming and booming”, he said, before he asked the overflowing room to “Go for it!".
Positive bilateral agenda
Earlier, during his introduction, the Argentine Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, stressed that Deputy Foreign Minister Duncan is “our main counterpart in everything that we are doing with the UK, which includes a very positive agenda”. And he added: “The Embassy´s aim is to facilitate foreign investments in our country. So, having such an audience today is an honour and a big deal”. Attendees included Michael Rake, Chairman of BT, MP Mark Menzies and the Argentine Secretary of Entrepreneurs and SMEs, Mariano Mayer.
The Ambassador stressed that Argentina “is implementing its economic stabilization programme with gradualism, which is the best way to avoid social conflict”. Without further delay, he introduced Mayer, as the “mastermind behind the law that promotes the internalization of Argentine SMEs”, a strategy to attract investments to the country.
“Progress, the search for investment and what we can learn”
Mayer´s speech, welcomed with warm applause, focused on three matters: sharing the progress of Macri´s administration so far (especially regarding regulations), seeking finance, and his seeking process to learn about crowd-funding models for Private Equity, a field in which the UK, he said, “is a world-leader”.
“SMEs are the major generators of employment; not the State, not large corporations. What they do need is foreign investment. Being in the UK is a good opportunity to hold 1-on-1 meetings with investors, both in Private Equity and in Venture Capitals and Social Finance. It is also an opportunity to learn from the UK in areas where they has a great deal of experience, like crowd funding, a matter on which we are seeking to push through new legislation”.
Argentina, he said, is a country with highly qualified human capital. In order to boost it, his Secretariat has opened an Academy throughout the country to encourage entrepreneurship. The institution has already registered 13,000 students. Progress elsewhere has come in the form of 30 entrepreneurial hubs and plans to develop business ecosystems, helping companies make the right decisions and supporting them with their business plans.
“Whilst we are very far ahead in terms of human capital, we must acknowledge that in terms of finance we are way back in last place, 11/11 in Latin America. We are trying to improve this area by changing regulations. Within 4 years we want to have opened 10 funds, representing around 30 to 50 million dollars each. Before the end of this year, we will have opened bids for at least three. In terms of technology, the idea is to secure investments for a total of 250 million dollars per fund”. Another key progress stressed by Mayer is the Seed Plan, which has garnered so much interest that it overcome expectations. “We have the difficult task of selecting 500 projects out of 13,000 submissions. We have a great challenge ahead: to achieve the objective set out by President Macri to reach zero poverty. There is a great deal that remains to be done”, he said.