On 6-7 June 2016, the IIEA co-hosted a two-day symposium in Buenos Aires with the Argentine think-tank, Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI), and the Irish Embassy in Buenos Aires.
The symposium, entitled Interdependence: Challenges for the 21st Century, was part of a series of events in Buenos Aires organised by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and coordinated by Ambassador Justin Harman, celebrating the links between Ireland and Argentina on the centenary of the 1916 Rising and the bicentenary of the Argentine Declaration of Independence in 1816.
The symposium focused on political and economic themes of contemporary relevance to both countries, with an emphasis on issues in regional and global governance.
The opening session, entitled The Meaning of Sovereignty in the 21st Century – from Independence to Interdependence featured speakers including Dr. José María Lladós, Academic Director of CARI; Barrie Robinson, Political Director, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and Ambassador Ricardo Lagorio, a former Minister for Defence of Argentina. Panelists examined the concept of sovereignty in an increasingly interdependent world, touching on issues of regional integration and multilateral cooperation.
Subsequently, in a session entitled The Economy in the Age of Globalisation, Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist of the IIEA, and Lucio Castro, Secretary of Productive Transformation, Argentine Ministry of Production, drew on the recent experiences of both countries to provide a forward-looking analysis of the influence of globalisation on their respective economies. Issues discussed included Foreign Direct Investment, the impact of the globalisation of finance and what Brexit might mean for the Irish economy.
The afternoon of 6 June focused on the theme of Smart Economies for a Connected World and was divided into three sections. The first, on Smart Agriculture, was addressed by Gustavo Grobocopatel, President of the Los Grobo Group, and Richard Kennedy, CEO of Devenish Nutrition, who provided comprehensive overviews of the modernisation steps their organisations have undertaken to adapt to the changing agricultural sector.
A session on Renewable Energy was address by representatives of Mainstream Renewable Power, an IIEA Foundation Member. Mainstream CEO, Dr. Eddie O’Connor and Mainstream Chile General Manager, Bart Doyle, discussed the opportunities inherent in moving to renewable power and provided a case-study of the Chilean experience. On the Argentinian side, presentations were delivered by Ester Fandiño, the former Director of the Argentine National Energy Regulator (ENRE) and Vanesa Revelli, Director for Latin America of ABO Wind, who provided an overview of Argentina’s progress to date in its move towards renewable energy, noting the economic and geographical challenges that the shift presented.
The third session under the Smart Economies heading, took place on the morning of 7 June, and focused on The Digital Economy. The session was addressed by Joyce O’Connor, Chair of the IIEA Digital group. Using the example of Dublin, Prof. O’Connor argued that the digital sector is a core infrastructure for modern cities and that the creation of digital economies and tech clusters can become mainstream providers of high-value employment. Also speaking in the session was Fernando Straface, Secretary General of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, who saw many commonalities between the digital ambitions of Dublin and Buenos Aires, noting in particular the common challenges in governance and infrastructure they have faced in creating their digital ecosystems.
The symposium concluded with a session entitled Connected Futures: The Importance of Transatlantic Cooperation. This final session brought together the threads of transatlantic, North-South cooperation in the earlier sessions. Panelists discussed EU-Mercosur cooperation, and the Irish Government’s Strategy for the Americas, as detailed in the May 2016 Programme for a Partnership Government. Speakers in this session included Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist, IIEA; Feilim McLaughlin, Director of the Americas Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Félix Peña, Director of the Institute for International Trade at the ICBC Foundation; and Gustavo Béliz, Director of Latin American Integration Institute of IADB.
A joint IIEA and CARI report on the event will be available soon.