Photo via: Presidencia

President Mauricio Macri kicked off this morning the first ever business forum of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference highlighting the importance of multilateral trade and calling for more cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Macri began his address by assuring Argentina has gone back to having a relevant place on the international scene and encouraging the representatives of the WTO’s 164 member states, as well as the national and international business leaders present at the Kirchner Cultural Center (CCK), to share his government’s “enthusiasm for the future.” In other words, calling for investment in the country: “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, but finding the way to face them will be easier with good partners,” said the President, who also pointed out the fact that this is the first forum of the kind the WTO organizes.

Some of the most high-profile business leaders listening to Macri’s words were Adelmo Gabbi, head of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, Fiat Argentina CEO Cristiano Ratazzi, Vice President of the Argentine Industrial Union Daniel Funes de Rioja, State-run oil company YPF head Miguel Gutiérrez and Jack Ma, CEO of Chinese giant Alibabá.

When emphasizing the need to boost international trade, the President argued trade is a “virtuous circle that starts to work when we take down obstacles to trade and expand our borders.”

However, he conceded that “we know the reservations that opening to more trade can generate,” using Argentina as an example and saying the country “was isolated for many decades.” As a result of this, he continued, the government has decided to implement its intended reforms in a gradual manner, “having dialogue as the method” to do so.

Macri went on to indicate that nonetheless, governments can’t take up this task on their own, and used the argument as a way to introduce the need to work along the private sector: “the dialogue between the public and private sectors that will take place in this forum will be extremely important. It has to do with our willingness to dialogue. With including the private sector in the conversation, bringing them to the table to debate about how international trade has to be like. The more fluid this relation is, the larger the impact will be on people’s lives,” Macri said.

Photo via: Presidencia
Photo via: Presidencia

Moreover, he highlighted the importance of small and medium-sized businesses as drivers “of private employment and a fundamental part of emerging markets,” highlighting “the key role they play to promote social inclusion.” “We need to find the way to integrate them to the regional and global scene,” he urged.

The Macri administration officially launched in November a plan to promote “alliances” between the public and private sectors. Back then, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña assured that, as a result of this, infrastructure works will increase by 60 percent in 2018, compared to this year.

Peña also highlighted “this will be the most transparent plan of this kind in [Argentine] history,” arguing it would “detach forever the concept about infrastructure being tied to corruption.” In September this year, Cronista reported there will be 52 projects of the kind next year, and that altogether they will demand an investment of roughly US $ 21 billion.