Search

 

Cablegate: Argentina: Mission and U.S. Companies Collaborate

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0647/01 1361826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151826Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1040
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000647

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/BSC AND OES/SCT
COMMERCE FOR 4322/OIO/WH/OLAC/PEACHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPL TSPA SCUL PREL AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: MISSION AND U.S. COMPANIES COLLABORATE
WITH S&T MINISTER ON COMPETITIVENESS ISSUES

REF: BUENOS AIRES 273 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) This telegram is sensitive but unclassified, and not
for Internet distribution.

-------
Summary
-------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Wayne hosted Argentine Science and
Technology Minister Lino Baranao and CEOs from U.S.
innovation-based companies May 9 in the latest of a number of
sector or topic-specific events to bring together GOA
ministers with relevant U.S. businesses. The meeting helped
to address a common concern of U.S. business in Argentina:
lack of access to GOA decision-makers. Following that
meeting, the ambassador introduced Baranao to Daniel Behr,
Director of Business Development at Harvard University's
Office of Technology Development. The company executives and
Behr offered to assist Baranao toward his goal of speeding
Argentina's technological development and inculcating a more
entrepreneurial mindset in Argentina's scientists and
researchers.

3. (U) U.S. companies represented at the meeting with Baranao
were 3M; Bristol Myers Squibb; Dupont; IBM; Intel; Johnson &
Johnson; Merck, Sharp and Dohme; Monsanto; and Pfizer. End
Summary.

-------------------------
Baranao's Activist Vision
-------------------------

4. (SBU) Baranao began the company roundtable by explaining
that he understands that it is no longer the 1970s and that
Argentina must find its place in the global economy or
suffer. He said that President Fernandez de Kirchner wants
to "harness a new productive model," with the state playing a
more active role in promoting innovation. With that in mind,
Baranao told the executives that he hopes to spur Argentina's
transition to a more knowledge-based economy by creating and
enacting policies designed to encourage the establishment and
success of technology-based businesses. Specifically,
Baranao pointed to biotechnology, nanotechnology, and
software/IT as examples of sectors to which he has already
decided to provide assistance. That help will come in the
form of GOA sector-specific, World Bank-capitalized venture
capital funds, which Baranao expects will be created shortly.

5. (SBU) Another aspect of what Baranao described as his
"proactive approach" is the cultivation of public/private
partnerships, or "strategic associations with the private
sector." Baranao reported that he is working with several
universities in the U.S. and around the world, and that he is
looking into some way to do the same with private sector
companies. Baranao also announced his intention to establish
an institute he will call the Public-Private Institute of
Technology, which will have as its mandate connecting
government-funded researchers (and in Argentina, most
researchers are government-funded) with Argentina's
manufacturing sector.

------------------
Changing a Culture
------------------

6. (U) Baranao explained to the company executives and to
Behr that another of his priorities is to effect a change in
Argentina's scientific culture. He wants Argentina's
scientists to understand that science and industry "can and
should mix," and that innovations and research should end up
in and benefit society. Baranao noted that it will be a
challenge to legitimize wealth creation among Argentine
scientists, but that he expects that it will only take a few
researchers striking it rich to change the collective
mindset. To that end, Baranao said that he will focus his
initial efforts on the few sectors named above, in the hope
that a few "emblematic cases" will result. The watchword,
Baranao said, is "use-inspired basic science," or convincing
scientists to find answers to existing problems instead of
looking for problems to fit their solutions.

7. (SBU) Another element of Baranao's panned cultural change
is to establish within the GOA an understanding of the
necessity of protecting intellectual property. Baranao said
that a debate about whether patents are "good or bad" still

rages in Argentina, and he stressed the need to get beyond
that stage. Establishing and enforcing appropriate IPR
protections is a difficult issue in Argentina, Baranao noted,
partly because of a politically powerful local pharmaceutical
industry that fears a change in IPR standards. More
important, Baranao thought, is that high-level government
officials are not as well informed about the IPR issue as
they could be.

------------------
Fruitful Exchanges
------------------

8. (SBU) Baranao spent most of the two meetings fielding
questions from the ambassador's corporate and academic
visitors. With company executives, Baranao supported
stronger intellectual property protections; encouraged
company representatives to tell their stories more ably, so
that Argentines from all social strata can better understand
the contributions their companies had made to Argentina; and
in one specific case explained to the 3M rep how that company
could most effectively work with the GOA. Baranao also faced
tough questions, as when the Dupont representative questioned
Argentina's attractiveness to the shareholders of
multinational corporations relative to other countries where
they operate. Still, the mood was friendly, and all the
companies present expressed a desire to cooperate with
Baranao to further his vision.

9. (SBU) Baranao's hour with Harvard's Behr, whose job is to
promote start-up technology companies using Harvard's venture
capital, focused on how to overcome barriers to Argentina's
entrepreneurial innovation and technological competitiveness.
Chief among those, Baranao said, is a lack of what he
described as "technology managers," individuals who
understand both science and business. Behr pointed out
several U.S. universities with specialized curricula in that
area, information that Baranao received with interest.
(Embassy Buenos Aires is working on a project to send
Argentine curriculum specialists to visit U.S. universities
with relevant courses of study. Behr's list will figure in
that project.) Baranao also said that venture capitalists
have not been investing strongly in Argentina because there
are not enough promising projects in the pipeline. Behr
suggested that he had found success by clearly delineating to
scientists areas of corporate interest, and Baranao said that
he is trying to do the same thing via the creation of the
World Bank-funded sector-specific venture capital funds. As
the meeting ended, Behr offered his expertise to Baranao.

-------
Comment
-------

10. (SBU) Baranao's interactions with company representatives
and with Harvard's Behr were consistent with the views he
expressed during his two previous meetings with the
ambassador (reftels). Such consistency, especially in an
individual who is essentially inventing a role (he is
Argentina's first S&T Minister), is a sign of the clarity of
the goals Baranao has set for himself. That those goals --
leading Argentina into the knowledge age and changing
Argentina's scientific culture along the way -- are
especially ambitious does not seem to have yet induced the
minister to waver. We will track whether and how he decides
to use the goodwill he generated during his May 9 meetings to
further his agenda. We are also generating a set of follow
up ideas for work with U.S. companies in promoting the
advantages of U.S. investment. For example, it is clear that
the Argentine public does not appreciate or understand the
extent of investment, training and CSR activities now
underway by U.S. companies in the innovative and knowledge
economy areas.
WAYNE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC