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Cablegate: Amcham Argentina Celebrates 90th Anniversary

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1445/01 2961437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221437Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2290
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001445

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/OCAC/APEACHER
USDOC FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO/WH/RD/BBRISSON
STATE FOR ECON WHA/BSC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP BEXP ECON AR
SUBJECT: AMCHAM ARGENTINA CELEBRATES 90TH ANNIVERSARY

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SUMMARY
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1. (U) The American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina (AMCHAM) is
currently celebrating its 90th Anniversary. Embassy and AMCHAM have
organized several successful celebrating events and we continue to
work together vigorously to promote US values and the positive role
of US companies in Argentina. AMCHAM and its members are strong
partners of the Embassy in promoting what is good about the U.S. as
well as our efforts to promote US commercial interests and good
business practices. AMCHAM has more than 760 members who together
employ more than 320,000 Argentines and whose earnings represent 19
percent of GDP. Of these companies, 63 percent are U.S. firms,
representatives of U.S. companies, or have U.S. capital. AMCHAM has
promoted U.S. business interests in Argentine since 1918 and
currently has eleven committees and three specialized departments
that have dedicated responsibilities such as environmental concerns,
IPR protection, and the promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility
initiatives. Throughout the year, AMCHAM has celebrated their 90th
anniversary via several events and activities, including its 90th
Anniversary Gala Dinner that attracted more than 800 participants.
AMCHAM will celebrate its 10th anniversary of the "Premio Ciudadania
Empresaria" (Corporate Social Responsibility Award), in which they
will acknowledge several companies for their work in this area later
this month. U.S. firms have enjoyed a rich history in Argentina,
many having established themselves nearly 100 years ago. However,
the current U.S. economic crisis, combined with Argentina's own
economic challenges, could cause a difficult year ahead. END
SUMMARY.


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AMCHAM'S LONG HISTORY IN ARGENTINA
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2. (U) AMCHAM was founded on December 18, 1918, marking Argentina as
one of the first countries to establish a binational chamber to
promote commercial relations with the United States. AMCHAM was
founded on the principles of promoting stronger business relations,
direct investment, technology transfer, free market enterprise, an
increased market economy, protection of intellectual property, and
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Currently, AMCHAM has more
than 760 members who employ more than 320,000 Argentines and whose
earnings represent nearly 19 percent of GDP. In total, these
companies account for more than 300 industrial plants located
throughout Argentina. Specifically, 63 percent of AMCHAM's members
are U.S. firms, representatives of U.S. firms or have U.S. capital.
Combined, this accounts for approximately 468 U.S. member firms.
Combined, these U.S. companies employ nearly 150,000. In 1999,
AMCHAM created a branch in the city of Cordoba, which currently has
30 Argentine company members and 45 multinational companies.

3. (U) Since its founding, AMCHAM has taken a strong role in
promoting business interests in the Argentina market. Much of the
work is accomplished through one of its 11 committees, which cover
issues that range from the environment to IPR protection. AMCHAM
has also established three specialized departments: a trade center,
public-private relations, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
AMCHAM has been a pioneering force in the promotion of CSR. In
1998, it began its "Premio Ciudadania Empresaria" (CSR Award) that
acknowledges the contributions that firms have made to the
sustainability of their local communities. Via this mechanism,
AMCHAM has highlighted 738 CSR projects, awarded 33 companies, and
selected 37 companies for honorable mention. Importantly, projects
have been recognized for their positive results in more than 14 of
Argentina's 23 provinces with the support of more than 235
companies.

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AMCHAM CELEBRATES THROUGHOUT 2008
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4. (U) Throughout the year, AMCHAM has highlighted their 90th
anniversary via numerous events and activities. On September 3, it
held its annual Intellectual Property Seminar in which the
Ambassador provided opening remarks commenting on the importance of
IP protection in the promotion and support of innovation. Later in
September, AMCHAM hosted the photographic exhibition "Argentina and
the United States, Tied Together in Images" that detailed the
everyday idiosyncrasies of both Argentine and U.S. culture. DCM and
several other Embassy personnel attended this exhibition. In
October, AMCHAM hosted its 90th Anniversary Seminar titled "The
State of Business in the Global Economy," attracting hundreds of
participants from the public and private sectors. Ambassador Wayne
provided opening comments, and former Secretary of the Treasury
Larry Summers was the featured speaker. This was an especially
relevant topic given the current global financial crisis.

5. (U) AMCHAM's most important anniversary event was the 90th
Anniversary Gala Dinner on October 9, which more than 800 attended.
The Ambassador was a Guest of Honor and spoke about the value of
person to person ties built by US business workers in Argentina.
The evening consisted of a thematic celebration in which historical
and cultural events in the United States and Argentina were
interpreted through dance, song, art, film, and cuisine. AMCHAM
organized a mini-exhibit in honor of its Anniversary Gala that
consisted of products from several of its representative sectors
such as information technology, automobiles, and consumer goods.
AMCHAM President Juan Bruchou (Citibank) explained that AMCHAM
Argentina was founded on such principals as innovation and corporate
social responsibility, as reflected in AMCHAM's donation to a local
children's hospital on behalf of its members.

6. (U) AMCHAM will also be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its
"Premio Ciudadania Empresaria" (CSR Award) on November 4. The 2008
edition will feature a new category, "Business Management Oriented
to Sustainability," in order to strengthen the idea of CSR and also
introduce this concept to its members. The DCM will provide opening
comments and co-present the awards. AMCHAM has held several other
cultural activities throughout the year in honor of their 90th
Anniversary.

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Challenges Ahead?
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7. (SBU) U.S. business has enjoyed a rich history in Argentina.
Citibank's first location outside of the U.S. was in Buenos Aires in
1914, Deloitte is currently celebrating its 100th year in the
market, and others, such as Ford and GM, have had a presence here
for nearly a century. Several sectors such as broadcasting, IT and
telecom, safety and security, travel and tourism, and automobiles
have enjoyed several years of sustained growth and profitability.
However, with Argentina facing many economic challenges, including
high inflation, energy shortages, price controls, and a decelerating
economy, the upcoming months could be challenging. The policy
environment in Argentina is also increasingly challenging. The GOA
has responded to the global financial crisis by announcing tighter
import controls on selected items, a weaker peso:USD exchange rate,
and a reduction in all non-politically sensitive capital
infrastructure projects. The Commercial Section has already
received concerned comments from WalMart Argentina, as the firm
imports a number of products directly from China, one of the
countries specifically targeted for tighter import controls.

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COMMENT
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8. (U) AmCham's longevity demonstrates that, for all its troubled
economic history, Argentina has been a lucrative market for many
American firms. Business remains good for many U.S. firms here, as
Argentina recovers from its deep economic crisis earlier this
decade. But even the firms that are doing well comment that they
could do even better, investing more, and creating more value in the
market if the attitude of the GOA toward the private sector was more
positive and proactive. Today's turbulent economic conditions could
change the equation for growth and company profitability, but it
does not appear that U.S. firms established and operating
successfully in Argentina will retreat from their profitable market
niches here anytime soon. AMCHAM and its members are and continue
to be some of our very best "Ambassadors" in an Argentina with many
skeptical views of the U.S. Post will continue its close
cooperation with the AMCHAM on the public diplomacy of enhancing
America's image as well as the Commercial diplomacy of preserving
our economic relationship. The two are as mutually reinforcing and
important as ever. WAYNE

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