Kea Connect helps Kiwi companies go global by connecting them to industry experts around the world. This week we spotlight World Class New Zealander and globetrotting businessman Boris Bourdin. The CEO of Danone Argentina shares his insights for Kiwi businesses with their eyes on this exciting and emerging Latin American market.
What you need to know about the ‘New Argentina’
Over the last 20 years, I have had the privilege to live and work in 8 different countries, and for the last year, I have been experiencing the changes happening in Argentina.
It’s fair to say that over that time, Argentina’s cyclical economy has not left a great taste in many companies’ mouths. There have been fast gains and big falls. Entrepreneurship has been difficult and considering the amount of assets Argentinians are “keeping” outside the country, companies are not the only ones with questions.
So more than 9 months after a new government (Cambiemos meaning ‘Let’s change’) was elected, where is this “New Argentina” today?
Despite improvements, more needs to change
Today, it is possible to meet, openly share your views and agree on a common agenda with government officials who have a real passion and willingness to take Argentina forward. I have been called many times by high-ranked officials to give my advice or expertise. This is an indication that the business climate has changed for the better.
But fundamentally, more needs to change and Argentina is still in a period of transition. Inflation is at 40%, purchasing power has dropped 10%, GDP is contracting, unemployment increasing and there is a high fiscal deficit.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom
The good news is that the new government has settled the sovereign debt conflict fostering the return of Argentina to the international credit markets. Consequently, investment is now easier, there is one rate for the peso (there used to be seven), and following market rules dividends can be repatriated. So is it time to take a bet on the new Argentina?
Argentina has a lot of potential and a lot of business opportunities
Argentina has a wealth of natural resources from minerals to agriculture that is either untapped or unproductive. This means it has a reservoir of growth potential. The Soviet era has also left behind a country with giant infrastructure needs of all kinds. Furthermore, the country benefits from a population of 40 million highly literate, informed, mainly urban consumers with an increasing digital fluency. With a strong spirit of entrepreneurship, resilience and creativity to overcome any business problem, this is the place to build innovative companies and brands.
Dancing the Tango is two steps forward and one back
Argentina is likely to continue to have a reputation of being a difficult place to do business for some time. Although critical institutions are showing positive signs of independency and change (for example, the Central Bank’s decisions on interest rates and the Judiciary’s ongoing corruption investigations), there are many tangible factors that would put off any reasonable investor. But despite it perhaps not yet translating into sizeable investments in the “real economy”, money has been flowing into Argentina this year and things are looking up.
The best news of all is that there’s now a direct Air NZ flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires, so I recommend you come, compare el ojo de bife with a Kiwi steak and experience the pulse of new Argentina for yourself.
Kea Connect, proudly supported by ASB, is Kea’s business connection service. Realise your global ambitions by connecting with industry experts around the world like Boris, who can give you valuable advice to help you on your way. Contact Kea today.
Boris Bourdin, CEO Danone Agentina
After graduating in International Relations and Foreign Trade, Boris started his career in 1991 working for L'Oréal Russia as a Marketing Assistant. He held management positions throughout Russia and France before becoming the General Manager of L'Oréal New Zealand in 1999. In 2003, Boris joined Danone as the Marketing Director of Opavia for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Between 2006 and 2013, he was the company’s CEO in Hungary, Italy, Indonesia and China, and since May 2015 Argentina.
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this article reflect Boris' personal views and do not represent the views of Danone.