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Wednesday, 02 May 2018 15:30

My mission has been a significant challenge, Carlos Dante Riva Featured

 Caspian Energy (CE): Your Excellency, you have been an Ambassador of Argentina to Azerbaijan for 5 years. How would you evaluate the present bilateral relations? How have they changed over the last five years?

Carlos Dante Riva, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Argentine Republic to the Republic of Azerbaijan: I am the first Ambassador of Argentina to Azerbaijan. Besides the honor that it represents, it has been a significant challenge. When you arrive at a longstanding Embassy, with a rich history and consolidated relationships, you have a structure that helps you. In this case, everything we do, from cultural events to ministerial meetings, is for the first time.

That is why I am confident to say that the work done during those five years has been absolutely productive. Not only we know each other in a more thorough and trustworthy manner, but cultural, economic, sportive and social ties are showing clear signals of growth.

When we opened the Embassy, the 14.000 kilometers that separate our Countries were almost an insurmountable barrier, now they are just a long journey from Buenos Aires to Baku.

 

CE: Which factors and trends of the global economy bring both states closer to each other?

Carlos Dante Riva: Both Argentina and Azerbaijan are the developing countries that strongly depend on commodities export and we are working hard to intensify the economic diversification and deepen the industrialization level of our economies. In this regard, our Countries could benefit from sharing experiences in creating markets, business facilitation, investment protection and development, and many other fields.

It is easy to say that globalization brings people, Countries and economies together, but with this “smaller” world comes the necessity of specialization, smart integration and application of new technologies. We are today more intertwined than ever, it is true, but the international market is also more competitive than ever. If Argentina and Azerbaijan can see each other as strategic partners in the Caspian Region and Central Asia and in Latin America, integration will be much faster and easier.

CE: What stance does Argentina take on the globalization of the world trade and investment priorities?

Carlos Dante Riva: We are working towards an intelligent insertion of our Country in the world, supporting multilateralism. In this regard, being the Chair of the G-20, we have assumed the challenge of “building consensus for fair and sustainable development”, thinking about the future of work, infrastructure for development and sustainable food future.

These ideas reflect the spirit and values of our foreign policy, bearing in mind the importance of development, inclusive growth and, specially, the needs of our People. Revitalizing the discussion on Doha’s issues, such as agriculture, fishing, services and development, is one of our priorities, but we are also interested in different aspects of the XXI century’s challenges: e-commerce, micro, small and medium size enterprises and investment facilitation.

CE: What are the priorities of the foreign policy of Argentina? Which countries are strategic partners of Argentina?

Carlos Dante Riva: Sharing a continent, a common history and most of our cultural identity, the South American countries are, without a doubt, strategic partners of Argentina. In order to obtain sustainable development in any of our Countries, the entire region must thrive. Even though we are still facing some shared issues that must be attended, regional integration remains a vital aspect of our Foreign Policy.

We also assign a special chapter of our Foreign Policy to other Countries or regions with which we have strong relations and a shared conception of the world and how international matters should be conducted. I hope someday in near future we can say that Argentina and Azerbaijan are strategic partners in energy, logistics, agriculture, investment, human rights, science and technology, and many more aspects of these modern times.

CE: What has been the impact of the expansion of the Panama Canal on the trade turnover of Argentina and trade relations with Azerbaijan and Caspian Countries?

Carlos Dante Riva: The expansion of the channel is the crystallization of a strong trend in the world port and shipping trade: the need of bigger ships to obtain economy of scales and, of course, Argentina is not the exception. In our case, the Panama Canal is the best option for our exports to the west coast of the United States and some Asian markets.

Regarding our trade relations with Azerbaijan and the Caspian Countries, exports are usually delivered trough Turkey’s and Georgia’s ports, so, even more that the Panama Canal, the most important logistic developments are the ones impulsed by Azerbaijan, namely the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars corridor and the Alat Sea Port.

When the project is fully implemented, Azerbaijan will become a crucial part in Argentine exports to the region.

CE: What could you tell about the level of economic relations between Azerbaijan and Argentina? Which steps are planned to be taken to develop business relations?

Carlos Dante Riva: When the Embassies were opened, our commerce level was alarmingly low, not corresponding with the importance of our economies. It could have been due to the distance, lack of mutual knowledge or information, or some other causes, but that level was not enough.

Nowadays, after only 5 years, the economic exchange has reached a more satisfactory level, including commodities, manufactures, services, pharmaceutical products and technology. Notwithstanding the global crisis or downward trend in world trade numbers, the economic relation between Argentina and Azerbaijan are growing.

There is much more to be done, and the next step should be crossed investment in productive sectors, integrating Argentinian companies into the Azerbaijani market and vice versa. Both Embassies are working hard on this topic, with the support and guidance of our Governments.

 

CE: Which sources of energy are the most efficient in Argentina?

Carlos Dante Riva: The Argentinean power landscape remains strongly dependent on fossil fuels, representing 87 per cent of the total energy mix. Being conscious of the impact on the environment and our own potentialities with renewable energy sources, Argentina has launched a revolutionary program on energy diversification.

Taking advantage of our 2.7 million square kilometers of the land surface, we have sources of geothermal, wind, hydraulic, solar and non-traditional energy. For this reason we have recently passed the law under which 20 per cent of power demand by 2025 must be covered by renewable energy generation, adding up to 10,000 MW. This program, known as RenovAr, has shaken the renewable energies market with over 75 companies bidding for 127 projects and USD 2 Billion investment planned.

CE: Argentina owns one of the world’s largest shale oil fields “Vaca Muerta”. To what degree are the Argentinian oil companies competitive in regard to the thousands of private American companies?

Carlos Dante Riva: Argentina has a long tradition in oil and gas exploration, production, and refining and marketing of gas and petroleum products. “Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales” (YPF) was founded in 1922, becoming one of the first oil companies established as a state enterprise in the world.  

CE: What is your vision about cooperation in the field of energy and upstream between our countries?

Carlos Dante Riva: I would like to be more ambitious and say that Argentina and Azerbaijan can cooperate not only in upstream, but also in midstream and downstream sectors of the energy field.

In connection with exploration and production, we have a strong tradition of inland production, which could be improved with your offshore expertise, and vice versa Azerbaijan can benefit, giving us the chance of enhancing oil and gas production capabilities.

Distance is an issue that needs to be sorted when thinking about the energy market, and Azerbaijan has mastered it in a unique way. Of course, we cannot build a pipeline between our Countries, but many forms of agreements can be found in order to exchange production, services and technology.

We must think not only about oil and gas, but consider also renewable sources of energy and pacific use of nuclear power. As you can see, there are many areas in which Argentina and Azerbaijan can cooperate, and this situation can be reproduced in many aspects of our relationship.

CE: President of Argentina has recently visited Moscow. Which agreements were signed there and does the President of Argentina plan to visit Azerbaijan

Carlos Dante Riva: Russia and Argentina have a historical friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation. The relations between both countries were established back in 1885 and have always been based on the principles of respect and consideration of each other's interests.

Last January President Mauricio Macri went on his first official visit to Moscow to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin and where they signed the Joint Statement about expanding cooperation in key areas such as the economy, foreign policy, defense industry cooperation, culture, etc.

Mr. President´s agenda is quite busy this year due to the G-20 presidency, but we hope to enjoy his visit to the country in the near future.

 

Thank you for the interview

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