Agriculture, livestock, renewable energies will be large sectors, given the increase in the world population. Investment in clean energy technologies and systems not only provides us with a more sustainable world, but also many countries whose accounts do not add up today due to the price of oil they must import, could begin to have significantly less debt with which would enjoy a calmer and less stressed financial system.
As a businessman, I would like to give a few brushstrokes on the analysis and panorama of the economy in Latin America, where we seek to make an economic x-ray, through the analysis of the main sectors analyzed in detail, making a projection of the panorama for the year that begins. We will analyze these perspectives from a few basic questions:
1. What has been your vision and commitment of BCI Commodity Group?
Since its inception, my vision has always been and is, to be able to provide entrepreneurs with a commitment to the development of economic initiatives, providing support to representative processes in decision-making spaces, where companies can obtain the commercial, economic and productive resources of a much more agile, comfortable and easy way.
2. What has been the most rewarding of these 7 years?
Behind every businessman and entrepreneur there are hundreds of personal, family and social situations, but above all there are thousands of hours of work, effort, sacrifice and dedication; in the vast majority of cases there are many families that depend on this activity and when for whatever reason, the continuity of that company is in danger, the power, in most cases, is to help solve those problems knowing everything that is at stake. It is a great satisfaction and a wonderful experience.
3. From his experience, where do you see the opportunity for growth in the region?
Although 2020 began with the expectation that Latin America and the Caribbean would grow 1.6% in the year, recovering from almost zero growth in 2019, these hopes were swept away by the coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic is not only a health crisis, it is also a social and economic crisis; its effects were and are devastating in almost all sectors.
The opportunities for the growth of the region will be within the primary sectors and the development of new technologies, related to the environment, and the agility applied to business processes, wherein new technologies will have a very important role.
Countries like Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Guatemala are taking real action to counteract these climate change problems and although Colombia is not the largest emitter of polluting gases, it only produces 0.6%, which is among the countries more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the initiatives taken by the government of Iván Duque and his environment minister Carlos Eduardo Correa will considerably help the recovery of many sectors of the country.
Agriculture, livestock, renewable energies will be large sectors, given the increase in the world population. Investment in clean energy technologies and systems not only provides us with a more sustainable world, but also many countries whose accounts do not add up today due to the price of oil they must import, could begin to have significantly less debt with which they would enjoy a calmer and less stressed financial system.
4. Which countries are best positioned for this 2022?
If we take into account that Latin America is going through the greatest economic crisis in recent decades, with regional unemployment exceeding 13%, this in practice means that 41 million people have lost their jobs. We must consider many variables, but Colombia would be one of the Latin American countries that would grow the most in 2022, the projection being that the Colombian economy can grow up to double digits this year and stand at 5.4%.
Without a doubt, something that is closely related to economic recovery and that has a direct impact on it, are the different policies that governments apply in their countries; for that reason, Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Paraguay , Uruguay and Colombia, are the best positioned, without losing sight of Chile, depending on how the new government manages its economic policies.
5. Since BCI is an innovation bank, what areas are priorities for the entity?
Our areas of action are the agri-food, construction, energy, aerospace, finance, industry, environment, mobility and transport, health, tourism and telecommunications sectors. Our priority is to help businessmen, entrepreneurs and governments so that companies can be more competitive, have easier access to a fully globalized market, with the use of technologies that make work simpler, faster and more ecological, promoting sustainable development, along with a circular economy, where the economic benefits do not have to face a systematic destruction of the environment. In the end, people are more aware every day about the type of world and future in which we want to live and the consumer is very clear about that.
One of the sectors most affected by climate change or the environment is the tourism sector and it is one of the sectors with the greatest need to find ecological and sustainable environments, where you can make your business profitable.
Nobody likes paying to go on vacation to cities where you can't breathe or your eyes sting due to air pollution, where the beaches or their waters are polluted, where instead of being able to visit places lush with vegetation and animal fauna, there are only deforested jungles or arid places.
However, we must not forget that the tourism sector is one of the main engines of the world economy and generates millions of direct and indirect jobs every year, and that most Latin countries are recipients of those tourists who contribute thousands of million dollars each year to the various countries. This could start to change very quickly in favor of other more environmentally friendly international destinations, which would be a huge disaster for the region.
6. What projects do you have in the pipeline to positively impact the region?
We are working on various green energy projects with new and more advanced solar generation systems, and also on issues of water, ecological and sustainable tourism and mobility and transport; these are being developed jointly with countries that are at the forefront of these sectors, such as Israel, Singapore, Norway, Germany, France, Spain and Canada.
7. The future seems to have caught up with us and sustainability thus becomes a priority. Tell us about the “Ecological City” that you are promoting.
This is the construction of the first thematic, sustainable and ecological city in the world, a project in which large extensions of cultivation and ecological livestock totally respectful of the environment are combined. In other aspects, this city development will include several theme parks, hotels, an R+D+I center, the first photovoltaic park on the continent with more than 3,800,000 solar panels, special water recovery systems, garbage disposal, etc., and will have approximately 400,000 homes, the city being fully self-sustaining, with direct and indirect job creation of more than 90,000 jobs.
Its extension will be 2,000,000 hectares and an investment of 6,000 million dollars, after a financing agreement signed with Kuwait and Dubai for this first city.
At this time there are already several countries interested in its location. We have planned the initial construction of three cities distributed in Latin America, Asia and Africa, given the extension of the project; countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador or Colombia could become candidates for location and investment.
8. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the BCI Commodity Group. What service and support do you offer to this sector of the economy?
There is a truth that is unquestionable and that is that without entrepreneurs new jobs and new businesses are not created; we all are or have been entrepreneurs – no one is born an entrepreneur. With entrepreneurship, new ways of providing basic services are also created, offering new ways of seeing the world; in short, this is what makes us prosper. Therefore, support and accompaniment in all areas that they may need is a priority.
At BCI Commodity Group we support all entrepreneurs who want to innovate, and every day more and more companies ask us for advice and management to improve or make strategic changes to their business model.
We take care of providing support and comprehensive advice to entrepreneurs in their activities in their international marketing and expansion, through services aimed at facilitating the design and execution of their export strategy. Our action focuses on the identification of market opportunities, design of market penetration strategies, internationalization of companies and support in the design of action plans to enter international markets. On the other hand, we have the financing service for projects in international markets.
Following the agreement signed between Kuwait and Dubai and together with our strategic partner Blue Sign Group in London, we make it easier for companies and entrepreneurs to combine the solution of all their demands in what is defined as "turnkey."
9. In your opinion, what is needed to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable economy in Latin America?
To achieve a more inclusive economy, Latin America must abandon the old ideology of the hit culture, of quick and easy money for only a few; those business models and types of culture no longer have a place in a world so globalized and competitive.
The future of any type of business is in the sum of knowledge and potential, not the privileged sector of the few. Inequality is inefficient, not only because it is unethical, but also because it is wrong from an economic point of view. We must overcome the culture of privilege that prevails in Latin America and the Caribbean, and as long as businessmen and governments do not understand that human capital is invaluable and unique, as long as we do not promote education and equal pay between men and women, and we fail to respond to the challenges that are presented to us, Latin America will continue to live and bleed between corruption and mediocrity and we will not be able to advance in the continent, which is one with the greatest potential in different economic sectors in the world.
10. How can BCI Commodity Group help in this regard?
BCI will launch during this year 2022, a program aimed at financing 95% of the investment necessary to develop projects related to the environment and sustainable issues in Latin America, also with new technologies; for this we will have available international funding of 11.7 billion dollars for the 2022-2024 period, so that all viable projects in these areas may have the option of being financed.
11. How do you see the progress of green finance in Latin America?
Sustainable finances are financial models that consider the environmental, social and economic impacts generated by the economic activity carried out by companies. Latin America and the Caribbean lose approximately 14 billion dollars a year as a result of natural disasters linked to the climate, without counting the cost in human lives, which is incalculable, since life is priceless.
Given this panorama, it is a duty of all, governments and companies, to start thinking about a more sustainable present and future, for example, in models of water, wind and agricultural resources, where in the latter it is possible to appreciate practices that support an inclusive food system through climate-smart agriculture, and new technologies applicable in this sector, such as remote sensing, drones, autonomous vehicles, and agricultural robots. These technological advances have shown that in identical situations, they increase production by 30%, which is an immense benefit for this primary sector.
12. Where will the entity direct its greatest efforts this year?
One of the things that I admire the most is the role of Latin women. In addition to continuing to be the pillars of the family and their homes, in Latin America the role of women in the economic and political sphere is increasingly growing, with the Latin women increasingly assuming a leading role in the economy, without neglecting their nature as mothers, which is why BCI Commodity Group wants to support these women in a very special way and we are going to develop important investments that help strengthen their entrepreneurial development.
José Luis Reyes Escriche
President BCI Commodity Group