I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Buenos Aires this week, a city I normally fly past on my way to Brazil. I was here to run two BRIC workshops at AMP's Offshore Conference and, with the announcement of the nationalisation of YPF this week (see previous blog post below), it turned out to be an even bigger and more momentous week than expected.
Here are some of my observations and thoughts after spending a week on the ground in Buenos Aries:
- This is a country full of energy, vibrancy and creativity. Argentinians have lived through tough times since their financial crisis of 2001, and they take nothing for granted. If anything, this has created a nation of entrepreneurs, leaders and risk-takers who live in the present, expect nothing and work hard.
- The IT sector is a great example of this with annual revenues growing at an annual rate of 18% between 2002 and 2010, and exports expanding by 24% per year (foreign sales represent 22% of total revenue). Employment also increased substantially, registering an annual growth of 21% on average during the same period. The industry employs almost 65,000 people, more than half of which are professionals with tertiary or university education.
- Argentinians are pragmatic and don't take themselves too seriously. What we call "corruption" they call "a lack of transparency". What we regard as an "evil expropriation of foreign owned resources", they regard as the "glorious re-nationalisation of state assets"!
- Argentinians are very aware, and actively supportive of, the tremendous growth taking place in neighbouring Brazil, and many of them are seeking to tap into that growth by developing new businesses, opportunities and relationships in what has always been their closest rival. I asked a number of locals why they preferred to live in Argentina rather than crossing the border to pursue a new life. Whilst many acknowledged that this might be a smart thing to do, they all agreed that they couldn't leave Argentina. For all its faults, imperfections and craziness, they remained passionate about its future prospects. And they loved living in Buenos Aires, a wonderful city of colour, flavour, creativity and energy.
Today I fly to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, one of my favourite cities. Adios Buenos Aires, I hope to come back again one day.....