The permanent secretary of CEIB and CEOE of International CEOE, Narciso Casado, spoke at the XII Forum of the Private Sector of the Americas in Medellin, under the theme "Innovation from the private sector: driving development in the Americas", to talk about future of integration in the Americas. The conclusions of the Forum will be presented at the 49th Assembly of the OAS, as a substantive contribution of the private sector to the dialogue among the OAS Member States.

The forum brought together representatives of business organizations and leading business leaders in the region. He had as main topics of debate: the opportunities and challenges for the Americas before the IV Industrial Revolution; the future of integration in the Americas; innovation from the private sector, as a development tool; and smart energy in the Americas. The forum has been organized by the General Secretariat of the OAS together with the government of the Republic of Colombia and the support of the business organizations of Ibero-America and Spain.

The general director of CEOE International and permanent secretary of CEIB, Narciso Casado, took part in the panel: "The future of the integration of the Americas", in which opportunities for collaboration and public-private solutions were addressed to deal with the challenges of technological changes that disrupt integration, trade and production. Likewise, the role of business organizations in the integration processes of the Americas was discussed, as well as what can be achieved with public-private partnerships and the importance of the links between the European and American regions.

Role of business organizations

Casado stressed from Medellín that at a time like the present, characterized by the growing rivalry between large economic blocs, countries, especially South America, should make a greater effort to integrate their economies to boost trade and intraregional investments, facilitate the integration of the local productive fabric in global value chains and enable companies to acquire more scale and competitiveness. In this sense, it is striking, he pointed out, the contrast between the high degree of intraregional trade in North America and Central America, and the low level of South America, on the other hand.

This will not only imply, according to Casado, a tariff disarmament between the countries, but also the elimination of non-tariff barriers, the homologation of standards and the development of regional infrastructure projects that better market the region's markets. He also reported that business organizations and, in particular, the Council of Ibero-American Businessmen -CEIB-, represent the most appropriate instance to transfer to their respective governments the urgent need to promote regional integration, in order to increase the weight of the region in global trade and investments.

European and American region links

The permanent secretary of CEIB explained that being aware of the importance of America for Spain, CEOE has been a strong advocate within the European Union and BusinessEurope of the new Association Agreements signed with Central America and Cariforum, the Multipartite Agreement with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, and the Free Trade Agreement with Canada. Likewise, "we support the modernization of the Association Agreements with Chile and Mexico, as well as the commercial agreement with MERCOSUR," he said.

If these three negotiations are successfully concluded, according to Casado, the European Union will have signed new generation agreements with all the American countries, with the exception of the United States, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela. These agreements are also important for the improvement of access conditions for goods, services and investments on an equal footing with respect to companies on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, he indicated, they establish common standards and rules, which contributes to the legal security and predictability that companies so much need to trade and invest. On the other hand, these agreements serve to establish an institutional framework that allows to settle the differences and adapt the agreement to new business needs. Finally, he said, they help foster regional integration in Central and South America, by setting a series of common rules between the Central American countries and several South American countries.

Public-private partnerships

"Business organizations in Ibero-America have never been as coordinated as they are today," said Narciso Casado. Proof of this is the role developed by the Ibero-American Business Council, CEIB, in collaboration with the Ibero-American General Secretariat, SEGIB. Casado also recalled the importance of belonging to the most important global business institution, the International Organization of Employers, OIE, which supports CEIB, and the more than 150 business organizations in the world integrated into the OIE.

He also referred to the prominent role played by business organizations of young entrepreneurs and the support that should be given to them. They are a fundamental piece in the development of future business vocations and in the defense of companies, he said, and mentioned as an example the Spanish Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs, CEAJE and Iberoamericana, FIJE, with which CEIB collaborates closely.

Regarding public-private partnerships, Casado emphasized that partnerships should be varied in nature and recalled that both CEIB and its organizations are suitable partners to develop projects and initiatives with companies, public administrations, universities, training centers and technological clusters, among others.

Casado also referred to three fundamental axes, the dialogue with governments, institutions and, above all, with union representatives, and recalled that social dialogue is the best infrastructure available to countries, training and the need to retain talent in the region. He highlighted the message from the Foreign Minister of Colombia at the inauguration of not "suffocating the private sector," support for multilateralism, in which the private sector is an essential factor, and intraregional trade that should be strengthened.

He also assured that in the current digital age, training is one of the areas where a greater effort should be made to facilitate the employability of workers throughout their working life. "Both CEIB and its member organizations can facilitate and promote agreements between companies and business organizations, governments, universities and training centers to develop digital training programs," he explained.

In this sense, Casado mentioned the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), promoted by the OIE, which aims to modernize the curricula to adapt them to the needs of the economy, eliminate barriers to the formation of public-private partnerships and develop global and national initiatives through of the national GAN ​​networks.

On the other hand, as a concrete example of public-private partnerships, he stressed that the Fundación Telefónica and the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) have launched a training program of the Foundation, which offers free online modules and content, and aims to promote the digitization of workers from different productive sectors through 'Connect Employment'.

The creation of the Iberoamerican Arbitration Center, CIAR, supported by CEIB and its member organizations, is another clear example of collaboration that already works in Ibero-America, through a common instrument to resolve conflicts, economically accessible, with a language and close jurisdiction and in line with our social, political and economic environment.

In the area of ​​technologies and trade, it could be through specific transnational and national work groups (freight forwarders, technology companies, and law firms), working with the country's Authorities to improve customs processes, he concluded.

The Forum was inaugurated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo; the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro; the president of the Private Sector of the Americas, Eduardo Eurnekián; the mayor of Medellín, Federico Gutiérrez, and the governor of Antioquia, Luis Emilio Pérez. The day was closed by the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque, and the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

Bilateral meetings

Casado also participated in the 49th OAS General Assembly and met in Medellín with official authorities and business organizations in the country, and institutions such as the OECD (the Latin American and Caribbean Division), the Latin American Federation of Banks and the IDB , among others, to look for synergies and collaboration opportunities.

In addition to reporting the conclusions reached at the XXX Meeting of Presidents of Iberoamerican Business Organizations CEIB-OIE, which was held last week in Geneva, the CEOE CEOE International presented the activities developed by CEIB in the last year , both in Spain and in other countries of the Region, and informed of the preparatory work of the XIII Ibero-American Business Meeting, in which the Council has been working for months together with the Ibero-American General Secretariat-SEGIB, as the Forum of Mipymes the days July 2 and 3 in Buenos Aires or the Open Innovation Forum, to be held in autumn in Madrid. The next Summit will take place in November 2020 in Andorra and will have as its theme "innovation for sustainable development".

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