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The CEOE headquarters has hosted the celebration of the I Forum of the Pacific Alliance, which highlighted the need to give greater institutional support, to digitize, to give access to financing and to facilitate the inclusiveness of SMEs . The objective is to achieve greater productivity and competitiveness within the region. These and other issues are those addressed by the speakers at the I Forum of the Pacific Alliance, inaugurated by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto; CEOE CEO Antonio Garamendi; and the deputy general secretary of the Ibero-American General Secretariat, Marco Pinta Gama. The day was closed by the president of CEPYME, Gerardo Cuerva.

The Forum, entitled 'The future of the Pacific Alliance: Vision on SMEs in member countries and observers and their business organizations', brought together experts in the Pacific Alliance (PA) from more than 40 countries, in which was attended by representatives of governments and institutions of the member countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), as well as their Observer States. It is the first time in Spain that a Forum on this integration process emphasizes SMEs of full members and the 59 observer countries and their business organizations. The meeting was organized by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), CEOE and the Council of Ibero-American Businessmen (CEIB), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, with the support of ICEX Spain Export and Investments.

Pacific alliance

The CEO of CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, stressed that the Pacific Alliance is an ambitious, pragmatic, dynamic and flexible process that seeks to build a regional market of 225 million inhabitants around four fundamental axes, such as the free movement of investments , people, goods and services; as well as developing joint initiatives in fields such as education, innovation, science or business cooperation. Another of the main objectives, he continued, is to strengthen the presence of the countries of the Pacific Alliance in third countries and in regional areas. All these aspects, he stressed, led the Ibero-American Business Council (CEIB) to pay special attention to this process, as it attempts to respond to the main challenges facing the region.

Thanks to the Pacific Alliance, he explained, it is intended to build a network of alliances with institutions and related countries in values ​​and interests, aimed at developing collaborative frameworks and joint initiatives in areas such as regulatory cooperation, trade, the environment, digitalization or the R&D. Garamendi stressed, in this regard, that the Joint Declaration signed in 2007 by the Spanish government and the member states of the Pacific Alliance, was a first milestone towards a framework of collaboration, which could be extended to new areas of common interest such as cities Sustainable, energy, digitalization, education, innovation, professional training and business cooperation.

Spain, observer country

The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, stressed that Spain was the first European country to be an observer of the regional integration process and advocated strengthening our bilateral cooperation. Maroto insisted that in order to help SMEs in the Region, the stimulus of their entrepreneurial activity is required; make an effort in innovation and digitalization; establish a new regulatory framework that guarantees legal certainty and promotes its development; improve access to financing, through aid instruments by public administrations; and boost and enhance its internationalization process, in order to improve its productivity and competitiveness, in order to achieve sustained, determined and inclusive economic growth.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Ibero-American General Secretariat, Marco Pinta Gama, stressed the importance of digitalization for SMEs and MSMEs, since they are at greater risk and must adapt to the technological changes that occur in the Region. He also pointed out his problems in accessing financing, so they need more support from public institutions to improve their situation, promote their digital transformation and achieve greater productivity.

Trade Facilitation

In the first session of the day, which focused on trade facilitation, the director general of the Productive Development Unit of the Ministry of Economy of Mexico, Alfredo González Reyes; the Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez; the representative in Europe of the Development Bank of Latin America CAF, José Antonio García; and the director of Sales Spain of Iberia and director of the On Business program, Guillermo González. The table was moderated by the president of the Ibero-American Business Foundation, Josep Piqué.

During the session, the importance of supporting multilateralism in the current context, respecting international law and seeking effective cooperation mechanisms was highlighted. Likewise, the Pacific Alliance process was considered fundamental for its concept of affinity and projection to the world and the importance of developing infrastructure in the region was stressed. The speakers also highlighted the need for large companies to incorporate SMEs into production processes and support them for their future adaptation.

Digital transformation of SMEs

During the table dedicated to the necessary digital transformation of SMEs in the Pacific Alliance, it was insisted on providing SMEs with the capabilities to internationalize and be competitive in international marking, and all this must be done through digitalization. However, the speakers said that this process must be led by the public sector, but always in collaboration with the private sector and, for this, we must build information exchange ecosystems, both national and international, specialized by sectors. Everyone agreed that digital transformation is not an option, but an obligation. It is necessary to encourage young entrepreneurs through the opening of borders, eliminating tariff and non-tariff entry barriers, they said.

To address all these issues, the director general of Multilateral Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile and national coordinator of the Pacific Alliance, Angélica Romero; the general director of RED.es of the Ministry of Economy and Business, David Cierco; the Latin American member on the OIE Board of Directors and Vice President of Legal and Social Affairs of ANDI, Alberto Echevarría; the president and founder of SNIPPET, Carlos Sánchez; the general secretary of FIJE, Antonio Magraner; the president of the OITA-OIE Commission of Fedecámaras, Jorge Roix; the country manager in Spain of Enable S.C. (Mexico), Vivente Viniegra; the executive president of Grupo Mérica Foods (Peru), Jhony Guevara; and the general director of Grupo Alto (Chile), Todd Hooper. The table was moderated by the global director of Public Affairs Strategy at Telefónica, Trinidad Jiménez.

AP SMEs in global value chains

In the panel on SMEs in the Pacific Alliance in global value chains, moderated by the executive director of the Regional Center of the Private Sector in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Diana Chavez, the Vice Minister of Business Development participated from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, Saúl Pineda; the deputy director general of Support to the Pyme of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Antonio Fernández Ecker; the general director of TOTTO (Colombia), Carlos Martínez; the director of Administration and Finance of the FAGRO Group (Mexico), José Alberto Saro; and the founding partner and CEO of Mark Venture, Fernando Rodríguez.

The speakers highlighted in this area the need to facilitate financial support to meet the challenge of global value chains and that there is a unified regulatory and regulatory framework. In this sense, they also considered it essential that measures be taken by the Public Administration to eliminate barriers and, on the other hand, involve the private sector and the figure of the entrepreneur more. They also highlighted the value of SMEs that, in many cases, faced with difficulties and lack of support and resources manage to cope with the goals and results that have been set. Finally, they requested necessary improvements for micro-SMEs in terms of financing and standardization of the countries of Latin America with the social co-responsibility of public authorities and private agents.

Dialogue with observer countries

The last session of the day revolved around the Pacific Alliance as a space for opportunities and dialogue with observer countries. To discuss these issues, the Director General of Foreign Trade Policy Development of Peru, Diego Llosa, intervened; the deputy head of the Americas Division of the European External Action Service of the EU, Jacob Tamm; the president and CEO of Cox Energy (Spain), Enrique Riquelme; the general director of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, Inmaculada Riera; the ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco in Spain, Karima Benyaich; and the Australian ambassador to our country, Julie-Ann Guivarra. The vice president of the EuroAmerica Foundation and ExEuropdiputado, José Ignacio Salafranca, moderated the dialogue.

In this last panel, it was highlighted that connectivity between SMEs is key and that trade is undoubtedly the development tool for countries, as they share objectives. They also stressed that clear articulation with observer countries to promote cooperation is essential and ensured that the European Union has promoted a closer relationship with the Pacific Alliance and has a political interest in further progress, strengthening relations and making the Alliance more "Atlantic." Finally, they mentioned Morocco as a gateway for Europe and the Pacific Alliance in the African continent. "The advances, interests and efforts of the country in the Atlantic region are now growing due to its openness," they said.

Prior to the official closing of the Forum, the Ambassador in Special Mission for Ibero-American Summits and Multilateral Affairs of Latin America, Diego Bermejo; the director of the Presidency Cabinet of CEOE and permanent secretary of CEIB, Narciso Casado; and the SEGIB Business Advisor, Pablo Adrián Hardy, were in charge of presenting the conclusions of the seminar to the participants at the meeting.

Closing

The vice president of CEOE and president of CEPYME, Gerardo Cuerva, highlighted the importance of companies, especially SMEs, which represent the engine of growth and social welfare of the countries. He noted that thanks to the Pacific Alliance process, advances in the Region have been very relevant in terms of liberalization of trade in goods, where more than 90% of tariffs on the volume of goods have been eliminated; regulatory cooperation; in the elimination of technical barriers; the integration of the capital market, the transparency of public procurement markets and the free movement of citizens.

Cuerva placed special emphasis on the effort being made to empower SMEs, support entrepreneurs, boost infrastructure development or promote innovation within the regional integration process. Regarding digitalization, the vice president of CEPYME opted to establish an innovative culture and adopt policies and measures accompanied by a greater investment effort to boost economic growth and job creation. In this regard, he explained that from the Council of Ibero-American Businessmen (CEIB), full support and support is given to the definition and development of policies and initiatives that promote innovation in Latin America. "All this, with an eye on the next Ibero-American Summit, to be held in Andorra at the end of November 2020 and which will focus on innovation for sustainable development," he said.



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