Macri ends EU tour with investment promises
Thu, 07/07/2016 - 16:00

Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz vow to increase spending, expand operations in Argentina claiming a “high interest” from foreigners to open and expand operations in the country, President Mauricio Macri yesterday ended his European trip by meeting with a group of German business leaders, who praised the national government’s economic measures and vowed to increase investment in Argentina.

Automaker Volkswagen vowed to invest US$100 million in its factories in Greater Buenos Aires and Córdoba province, where it manufactures pick ups and gearboxes. Meanwhile, Mercedes Benz announced it will centralize its Latin American offices for van sales in Argentina — a move estimated to require a US$150 million investment.

“We had very productive meetings. There’s a great interest to invest in Argentina. We are back in the world and we are working to increase the amount of funds invested in Argentina,” Macri said. “Brazil’s crisis is affecting the vehicle industry in Argentina and these investments will guarantee jobs.”

Volkswagen said Argentina is an “important pillar for the company in Latin America,” claiming its objective is to “widen the brand in the region by creating a solid financial base, having a wider market share and greater profitability.” The company’s head for Argentina Pablo Di Si said the funds will be used to improve productivity in both factories.

Córdoba’s Governor Juan Schiaretti travelled with Macri and welcomed Volkswagen’s investment and said it could lead to more jobs in the province, where one of the factories is located. At the same time, Victory Front (FpV) lawmaker Oscar Romero, who was also on the trip, said 1,800 jobs that were under risk are now “secured” thanks to the investment.

On the other hand, Romero said Mercedes Benz was “cautious” regarding any investment announcements, claiming they will wait for the new official to be appointed in Argentina to head the van sales unit.

“The sales used to be managed by Brazil. This is an important change for Mercedes Benz in Argentina and it opens the door to new products and markets. It means the company has acknowledged our labour force,” Romero said. “The objective of the trip was to avoid job losses and we accomplished it.”

Macri also met with Siemens head Joe Kaeser, who said the company plans to hire 1,000 more people directly as well as create 5,000 indirect jobs on the next four years. The company currently employs 1,300 people in the country and has focused on the last few years on subway and train works and the construction of the Bahía Blanca thermal water plant.

Meanwhile, German energy company Wintershall president Mario Mehren said the Macri administration is sending “positive signals” for companies to increase their investment in Argentina and highlighted the stronger ties between Argentina and Germany.

“The new government of Mauricio Macri is sending positive signals and betting on a favourable path for companies,” he said. “Germany and Argentina are building new bridges and we are doing our part by playing an active role.”

Business forum

As well as having individual meetings with business leaders, Macri spoke to 300 of them at a summit held at the German Industry and Trade Chamber (DIHK). He said Argentina has “it’s doors open” for investment, adding that the country needs “serious companies” that will lead the country to larger economic growth.

“I’m here to tell you that the doors of the country are open not only for those who want to invest in the country but also for those who want to live here. We want to have greater economic growth based on investment,” Macri told the business leaders. “The public and private sectors have to work side by side.”

Macri said the government has focused the first half of the year on creating “clear rules that guarantee stability,” which will lead to more investments and jobs. He said that 30 percent of the Argentines live under the poverty line and that one of his main goals is to “reestablish trust” among Argentines.