Latin America Day 2020
On September 24th and 25th, the Business Association for Latin America (LAV) invited under the patronage of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of Baden-Württemberg to the 71st Latin America Day - this year for the first time online!
More than 550 participants from mainly Latin America and Germany attended on both days and send us a lot of positive feedback. Thank you very much!
The Virtual Platform
The virtual platform offered different opportunities to interact with each other like the network lounge, the information desk, and the auditorium. The new virtual event set-up also provided an exhibition hall where 11 companies were able to present themselves with their products and services. Our participants took advantage to visit the booths and getting in touch via (video-) chat with the exhibitors.
In the auditorium high political and key executives discussed their views and strategies for Latin America. Keynote speeches by Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the IDB, Carlos Salazar Lomelín, President of Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE), and Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG, defined the content of the conference on the first day. In three specific interactive discussion forums issues of business industries as healthcare, Green Deal strategies and transformation of the automotive industry completed the agenda of the first day. The second day aimed to give a state-of-the-art overview and a critical approach of the free trade agreement between European Union and Mercosur. In three following discussion rounds we had an interesting exchange about the topics: digitization and new ways of working, risk management in uncertain times and the food industry and its international value chains.
Below you can find a sum-up of all sessions held in the auditorium during the two day`s conference Latin America Day.
Kick Off Event: LAV 2.0 -Startup business pitch and its strategic importance for innovation
Start-ups can be a strategic drive to innovation for a traditional business. The dynamic program organized by the LAV-Young Professionals included pitches by JoyBräu, QueridoMundo and Aquabeam and the accelerators BMW Startup Garage and ProChile StartUp Chile. With this Chilean program the LAV signed a MOU to prepare soft landings for Latin American Startups in Europe.
Panel Discussion: Business prospects for Latin America
In the first panel discussion of 71st Latin America Day we asked the high-ranked presenters of Amandus Kahl GmbH, Dr. Victoria Behrmann, BBraun Melsungen AG, Dr. Annette Beller, BASF SE, Michael Heinz, and Wintershall Dea, Thilo Wieland, to give their point of view on business prospects for the Latin American countries. All speakers agreed that the region is hit hard by the pandemic. Even more Covid-19 has the effect of a fire accelerant to structural problems, Latin America already suffered before. Also, the region has strong competitors from Asia. But still and in spite of the expected economic contraction, there are growth enabling factors like a young and to new technologies open-minded population, common values with the old continent, economic potential in for example renewable energies, digitization and sustainable products. The panel discussion was chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Mr. Alexander Schönfelder.
Forum 1: HealthCare – Latin America in times of COVID-19 and beyond
With the CEOs of European companies of medical devices or healthcare products this discussion had the Latin American perspective of a business in the region. Carlos Jimenez from B. Braun Melsungen AG, Frank Orschler from Königsee Implantate GmbH, John Anderson from Fresenius Medical Care, Jose Luis Silva-Martinot from HERSIL S.A. and Paulo Pinto from Dräger Brazil talked about challenges in the market but also positive turnover processes due to COVID that broadened their market or accelerated customs and certification inquiries for specific products. Possibilities of investments for new medical products combined with research for natural medicine in Peru were for example also mentioned as an interesting opportunity.
Forum 2: Green Deal: new opportunities for Latin America
The issue of the Green Deal and its impact on economic relations with Latin America was very well outlined in the debate moderated by Karla Beteta from AWE (Agentur für Wirtschaft und Entwicklung). The panel was bordered by Marie-Christine von Hahn from Aurubis AG, Svenja Ahlburg from Wilo SE, Tobias Gehrke from Fichtner GmbH & Co KG and Daniel Salcedo from Biotek Petrol. The clear statement by all speakers in favor of the Green Deal's objectives and their implementation, including through knowledge transfer in Latin America, shows its importance for today's small and medium-sized enterprises. Mapping these goals into a business case is of course a challenge, but at the same time it increases the commitment and puts feasibility on a firm footing. The cooperation between private and state-owned companies that was mentioned and called for, and the understanding of the global dimension of this transformation, which could be implemented even better through regional cooperation, clearly showed that this topic is no longer a question for energy and raw material-oriented companies that is related to the decision for or against the implementation, but rather already the starting point for various approaches to solutions.
Forum 3: Transformation in the automotive industry
The automotive industry is challenged by „a full speed transformation“ on different levels. Our speakers Thomas Karig (TKonsult), Dr. Wolfram Anders (Robert Bosch GmbH), Torsten Klavs (Porsche AG) and Angela Mans (VDA - German Association of the Automotive Industry) as the moderator of this panel, discussed the several challenges of this important sector. The speakers pointed out the diverse issues on the new trade agreement USMCA as well as the topic of industry 4.0 with its implications for education and how this can be solved in Latin America. Talking about driving technologies, the speakers pointed out that a good mix will be the best strategy for the future. As E-Mobility is actually one of the most promoted alternatives, it should be kept in mind that it comes along with new dependences and considerations concerning the raw material Lithium. Furthermore, also Angela Mans asked the audience to vote if they are in favor of the EU-Mercosur FTA. They are!
Panel Discussion: EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement
This discussion among the Member of EU-parliament and Chairman of the Trade Committee in the European Parliament (INTA), Mr. Bernd Lange from Brussels and the Deputy Director-General for External Economic Relations, Trade Policy and America in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Dr. Christian Forwick from Berlin was one of the highlights of the conference. As the FTA EU-Mercosur turned up in all media in the weeks before the event, this was a good opportunity to see how the ratification process is going on and what is happening in Brussels on this matter. The panel clarified some of the pros and cons of the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement, as well as the different stakeholder interests that are involved. The most controversial issues, i.e. climate and environmental protection, agriculture policy and labor and human rights, were addressed. Moreover, such an agreement between the EU and Mercosur with more than 650m people has a geopolitically significance in an age of increasing trade policy tensions and increasing competition of industrialized products sold in the Latin American region by European and Asian companies. The panel concluded with an outlook for the years 2020/2021. In a live poll the audience was in favor for the Agreement.
Forum 1: A new working environment, education, and cooperation through digitization
Experts from the legal side such as Luther Rechtsanwaltskanzlei (Stefanie Prehm) side-by-side with the Global Senior Vice President Human Resources Petra Angstmann from Wintershall Dea and the Head of Process Digitalization & International Career Service (Peter Theunert) of Bucerius Law School, spoke about digitization and brought to light some aspects of the digital transformation on work relations and environment for employers and employees. The following questions from Prof. Marco Aurélio Rüdiger of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas remain to be thought in a broader sense: “What kind of society are we planning for our next generation?, “Is Digitization an opportunity or a challenge?” or “What about democracy in a digital-society and a non-digital-society?” This very interesting panel was chaired by Matthias Kleinhempel from IAE Business School in Buenos Aires.
Forum 2: Sustainable Supply Chains for Food and Agricultural Products, the role of LATAM
The stability of logistics chains in the food and agricultural sector has become an even bigger issue in the times of Corona. The forum moderated by Prof. Dr. Günther Maihold from SWP (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) attempted to outline the logistics chain law that was newly introduced in Germany but has not yet been passed, as well as a currently greater interest in securing, tracking and shortening of supply chains. The panelists Dr. Arnt Vespermann from Hamburg Süd, Hauke Will from Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG, Jorge Leal from Ingenio Magdalena, Dr. Julia Hoffmann from Import Promotion Desk (IPD) and Pablo Diaz Colodrero from ArgenSun pointed out that higher demands on tracking do not necessarily pose problems for companies in Latin America, regardless of their size and orientation. Many even welcome the initiative: “From farm to fork" and also expressed the opinion that higher sustainability does not necessarily mean higher consumer costs. In their view, the investment required pays off for companies in the long run. Linking sustainable and traceable methods and approaches with social commitment or close cooperation with smallholders not only leads to further safeguarding production, but also to an even broader positive effect - namely further education or training of the population and thus an improvement in local social life. This approach is directly implemented in the approach of IPD.
Forum 3: Risk Management in uncertain times
“Latin America is used to the Ups and Downs for many years“. Starting with this quote, Gabriele Greiner from LBBW guided her colleagues Burghardt Piltz (Ahler&Vogel Rechtsanwälte), Edna Schöne (Euler Hermes), Enrique Dick (Mercado Libre), Klaus Hübner (Banco Santander) and Michael Huber-Saffer (PWC) through the last panel on the 2nd conference day. The challenges to business are divers and in recent times not just driven by Covid-19. The mitigation of risk, the important instrument of arbitration and the change in consumers behavior have been some of the topics the expert-panel was discussing. Trying to make a look into the future the experts commented on the one hand the ongoing challenges due to Covid-19, but also on a global investment environment that is becoming more threatened by rising tensions between countries. On the other hand, there are new opportunities on the investment side talking for example about restructuring manufacture as supply chains were getting vulnerable. So, nearshoring can be a new chance for investment if the following pre-conditions can be provided: political stability, a decent regulatory environment and reliable legal system.
See you next year in Hamburg!
Bodo Liesenfeld, Chairman of the Executive Board, concluded the first virtual version of Latin America Day. The venue for 2020 was announced by Hamburg's First Mayor Dr. Peter Tschentscher: next year we will meet “at home” in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. We are looking forward to see you next year - in person!