Infrastructure and logistics: the challenges of SMEs in Argentina

Infrastructure and logistics: the challenges of SMEs in Argentina
Infrastructure and logistics: the challenges of SMEs in Argentina

Alfredo González is president of the Argentine Confederation of Medium Enterprises -CAME (Image Movant Connection)

Alfredo highlights the importance of federal representation and territorial of CAME, how this allows us to address with precision the economic reality of the country from the perspective of SMEs, and comments on the strategies to improve logistics and strengthen internationalization.

In CAME, close to 100% of the leaders we are SME entrepreneurs, hence the accuracy when commenting on what the real economy is in Argentina and what we experience in different aspects. We are a very federal and territorial entity.

We are lucky to have a large and productive country in all sectors, to different measures. There are provinces, like Río Negro Río, that are two provinces in one: one is the one that surrounds the Atlantic and the other is the mountain range, with two totally different ways of producing. The same happens with other provinces and regions. For example, the North and Patagonia are similar, but not the same. Similar, because in both regions we have difficulties due to lack of infrastructure and connectivity. For its part, Patagonia is beautiful for tourism, but it is a hostile territory to produce and the same thing happens in part of the North where, as happens in Resistencia, Chaco, we do not have gas.

In this sense, our fundamental work is support all sectorsas is the case of the regional economy, which is the first productive cordon in Argentina. There are 432 entities grouped in this area, through which we represent almost 30 productive sectors of the regional economy and we are equal, together with the rural workers union and the four rural entities. Unfortunately, 70% of the national SME industry is within the AMBA cordon, Greater Buenos Aires and part of Rosariowhile in the rest of the country there are very few industries.

Naturally, the closer the company is to the Port of Buenos Aires, the more development possibilities it has, and the further away the possibilities are, the fewer. The largest sector we have is Commerce and Services, where we are also part of the largest joint venture in the country, along with the Argentine Chamber of Commerce and the Trade Union.

We are waiting for the next tender of the waterwaya resource that is not used at a logistical level for the interior of the country, but it is something that can allow us market in a better way with Paraguay, Uruguay and mainly with Brazil. In fact, we have many relationships with the business community in southern Brazil where they are very interested in using the waterway, since it would be much cheaper for them.

The regional economy represents the first productive belt in Argentina, according to the CAME reference

While Argentina does not have barges due to union difficulties, Paraguay has the second or third most important river fleet in the worldbecause it was strengthened with Argentine companies.

Have little extension of highways and many two-way routes, which is actually very dangerous, not to mention that they are not in good condition. That makes the product and production very expensive. In this sense, we work very closely with FADEEC because it is important strengthen the multimodal transportation system in Argentina.

It’s difficult, but we’ve been like this for a long time. In March the fall began to decrease a little more strong that we had in January and February. In April, the measurement regarding SME retail consumption marked a 7.3% decrease. This closes a quarter of 18.4% in decline compared to the previous year, which has an impact on companies in a slowdown of between 40% and 50%.

Although the fall is slowing, as is happening with inflation, the situation is difficult because since June 2022 we have been continuously declining. Only in December 2022 was a positive balance recorded in relation to sales from the previous year. While the year 2023 was catastrophic, even December, which is the star month in consumption, along with Mother’s Day.

In general terms, there has been a drop since December of the year 23: January 28%; February with 25%; It decreased in March with 12.7%; and April 7.8%. Always negative, but we are working to improve that situation through business actions to strengthen consumption which is what we SMEs live off of. In fact, CAME came up with the idea of ​​the “Simple Quota”, to which we were able to add more items, such as construction, motorcycles and bicycles, and white goods (appliances).

“We SMEs are the ones who reinvest 100% of our profits here in Argentina,” says Alfredo (EFE/ Enrique García Medina)

Since we took office in August 2021, the first line of union policy that we carried out was the digitalization of SME processesbut beyond their participation in electronic commerce, but so that they can also have better performance in their final result.

In addition, we work a lot on the triple impact, because today there is a world of new consumers who demand it, as well as the countries of Europe and also Brazil, which are two important destinations for our production. In fact, CAME generated a triple impact seal together with the Chamber of Certifiers of Argentina.

Specifically, in the internationalization of SMEs we start with Uruguay, because it is a smaller market that allows us to test the processes, and we also strongly promote the south of Brazil, which is where Argentine products enter. In this sense, we have an excellent relationship with colleagues from the Federation of Commerce and Industry of Brazil, and with SEBRAE, which is the public and private entity that brings together all SMEs in the country, which are more than 11 million legal , plus around 4 million informal workers.

On the other hand, in 2023 we managed to take 50 Argentine companies to an exhibition in Brazil where supermarkets were looking for suppliers from 10 Argentine provinces, and in 2024 We inaugurate the first showroom of Argentine products in the south of Brazilwith 90 Argentine companies interacting with potential buyers.

Now, the other part of the milestone begins, which is for each province to visit Curitiba in our showroom, where they will have meetings with potential buyers and the opportunity to Close business. That is the contribution we are making to internationalize the largest number of exporting SMEs in our country, to attract dollars and national production is strengthened.

If one looks up the word resilience in the dictionary, all its concepts are within the Argentine businessman. Between 98% and 99% of all Argentine companies are SMEs. That resilience caused us to go through hyperinflation, macroeconomic disasters and a pandemic. In 2008 we were more than 620,000 companies, today we are less than 530,000. That is felt in the large number of commercial and labor informality what’s up. During the pandemic, many SMEs went informal and use Fintech digital tools at a survival level to transact and collect their sales and services. The difference there is that they don’t pay taxes.

In this sense, our expectation is that the government takes small and medium-sized businesses into account. SME entrepreneurs have the same obligations, but not the same opportunities as large companies. From that place, you must always have a differentiated policy for small and medium-sized businessesprecisely to enhance them. SMEs are the ones that reinvest 100% of our profits here in Argentina.

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