Food security, climate change, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, the fight against inflation, economic recovery, democratic health, investment in infrastructure and geopolitical challenges are some of the challenges that extend across the globe. Given these global challenges, the sixth edition of the Latin America, the United States and Spain forum on the global economy, held this week in New York, highlighted the importance of the ties that connect the economies on both sides of the Atlantic.
The forum was organized by EL PAÍS and the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce, with the sponsorship of Abertis, Baker McKenzie, Grupo Nutresa, Iberia, Inditex and Indra and with the collaboration of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI). It was attended, among others, by the acting president of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, as well as political and business leaders. It was held at the Roxy Hotel in New York, coinciding once again with the UN General Assembly that makes the city, more than ever, the capital of the world.
"This is a very special moment for relations between Spain and the United States, but also between Spain and Latin America," said Joseph Oughourlian, president of Prisa (the publishing group of EL PAÍS), at the opening, highlighting "the enormous progress in the relationship between the EU and Latin America" that the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union is assuming.
The director of EL PAÍS, Pepa Bueno, defined the relationship between three bands in Spain, the US and Latin America as a "virtuous triangle" and called for joining efforts for two vital challenges: "green transformation and gender equality".
The president of the Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Alan D. Solomont, also insisted, like other speakers, on "the importance of ties between the U.S., Spain and Latin America." "In today's world, our economies are more interconnected than ever," he said. Strengthening global connections has always been important, but it has become even more important because of pandemic catastrophes or those in Morocco and Libya, the invasion of Ukraine and geopolitical changes, he argued.
Pedro Sánchez claimed the achievements of his Government in matters such as the green economy, the containment of inflation and "the reformist and transformative path" that, he said, shows that "Spain wants to continue advancing." His words contained some keys (the ecological transition or the reduction of structural unemployment) on what he intends to do if he finally manages to form a cabinet for a second term.
Mariano Jabonero, Secretary General of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI). Corrie Aune
The Socialist Government in office was also represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, who stressed the importance of the transatlantic relationship in the face of the challenges of the complex international environment. In this context, "for Spain, for the EU, the transatlantic relationship is paramount," he stressed. "The values we share, the interconnectedness of our economies, put us in an unbeatable position to continue advancing together in strengthening international and multilateral institutions to promote strong, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, defend democratic governance and promote solutions to global challenges." Albares referred to the EU-CELAC summit last July and the joint initiatives between the EU and the US as examples of such cooperation.
Mariano Jabonero, secretary general of the OEI, also referred to that summit in which a triple transition was set as an agenda for the region: green, to face climate change; fair, promoting democracy and human rights, and digital that closes the gap in Latin America.
Regarding the first, he said that Latin America "may be the first decarbonized region in the world, due to its capacity for the production of lithium and solar energy; also because of the enormous mass of fresh water available." Of the second, he stressed that "without democracy, human rights and equality there is no progress." As for the third, he explained that the pandemic brought a unique opportunity that should not be missed "to produce high-quality education."
From left to right, Christian Barrientos, CEO of Abertis Mobility Services (left); Inmaculada Riera, general director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce (center); and Teresa Parejo, Director of Sustainability at Iberia.Corrie Aune
The ties between both sides of the Atlantic, however, do not depend only on governments and international organizations, but to a large extent are business. Two of the Spanish companies with the greatest international projection, Iberia and Abertis, sat down for a conversation moderated by Inmaculada Riera, general director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, who stressed the importance of public-private collaboration in the green and digital transitions.
Teresa Parejo, director of sustainability at Iberia, stressed that aviation is one of the "most difficult sectors to decarbonize", especially in long-haul flights. "But that doesn't mean it can't be done," he stressed. Parejo also recalled that there are operational solutions to avoid emissions, such as the creation of the single European airspace, "so that planes do not have to make unnecessary turns."
The challenge of mobility
Christian Barrientos, director of Abertis Mobility Services, put the perspective of road infrastructure. He recalled that the planet is marching decisively towards urbanization. Half of the world's population already lives in cities, and that percentage will grow to 70% in the next 20 to 25 years. "That poses the challenge of intercity mobility as much as within cities," he said. He exposed the problem of financing infrastructure, which in the United States depends largely on taxes on gasoline. What can be done so that electric cars contribute to the maintenance of these expensive highways? Barrientos proposed sophisticating technologies to obtain information on the movements of these vehicles.
Jan Martínez Ahrens, director of EL PAÍS América (left), in conversation with Marc Murtra, president of Indra.Corrie Aune
Indra is another Spanish multinational with a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. Its president, Marc Murtra, made a diagnosis of the major trends in the world of innovation and technology. He highlighted, first of all, the American predominance. He also pointed to a major political current: the huge public-private component in technology. "The Biden Administration is betting on strategic autonomy, which means setting the perimeter in which you have the capacity to make decisions," he explained. And he pointed out the importance of understanding where relevant trend changes are going, as in his day it was the internet and now it is generative artificial intelligence ("a tool that triggers productivity," he said).
Biden's commitment to strategic autonomy and the attraction of industrial investments inspired the Inflation Reduction Act, approved last year, which was discussed at another of the tables. "For the first time we have an industrial policy in the U.S. that is not limited to credits for one or two years: now we have certainty for 30 or 40 years," said American Clean Power President Susan Nickey in a panel moderated by José Morán, president of Baker McKenzie's energy, mining and infrastructure group.
From left to right: José Morán, partner and chair of Baker McKenzie's Energy, Mining and Infrastructure Practice Group, moderates the panel of Susan Nickey, president of American Clean Power; Gabriel Alonso, CEO of 547 Energy; and Puneet Verma, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs at Avangrid. Corrie Aune
That long-term certainty, according to Gabriel Alonso, CEO of 547 Energy, makes the US "clearly the most attractive market in which to invest, due to its long-term stability" and puts the country "at the forefront of the energy transition".
But other issues still need to be resolved, such as the long time needed to receive permits on transmission lines, said Puneet Verma, vice president for federal government affairs at Avangrid. "You commit to a project you want to do, you disburse certain investments and you end up waiting seven years." "For those dollars to be put into operation, we have to solve the problem of permits," he said.
Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey.Corrie Aune
Near the end of the forum, the Democratic governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy recalled that Spain is among the top 20 trading partners of this state "in the middle of the Northeast corridor," he said, where "20% of the GDP of the United States" is generated. Murphy explained New Jersey's success by its "location, its concentration of population [9.3 million inhabitants] and diversity" ("20% of our neighbors are Latino"). The governor also dwelt on the state's commitment to offshore wind energy, crucial, he said, to address climate change.
Artificial intelligence and food safety were other global challenges analyzed in a forum in which, with the same naturalness that English and Spanish were combined, they went from talking about the United States to talking about Latin America or Spain.
Ángel Alonso Arroba, Vice-Dean of Management and Development at IE University's School of Public and Global Affairs, moderates the panel by Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence of Spain (center); and Beena Ammanath, Executive Director of the Deloitte Global Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
The present of artificial intelligence
"Artificial intelligence (AI) is not the future, it is the present," said Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence of the Government of Spain. It was, of course, at the sixth forum Latin America, the United States and Spain in the global economy, organized by EL PAÍS last Wednesday in New York. AI flew over all the conversations of the morning, but above all focused the theme of the last table, in which Artigas debated with Beena Ammanath, executive director of the Deloitte Global Institute for Artificial Intelligence, moderated by Ángel Alonso Arroba, vice dean of Management and Development of the School of Public and Global Affairs of IE University.
The Secretary of State talked about how public initiative can take full advantage of AI, and at the same time has a responsibility to keep its threats at bay. Ammanath provided the point of view of private enterprise, and ventured that AI will boost the economy in an unprecedented way, but also warned that it will add a risk factor that companies will have to learn to manage. "There will no longer be only financial or reputational risks. Now ethical and trust risks derived from a responsible use of AI are opened before companies," he argued. "It is up to our generation to set the rules, like when the automobile was invented. What are the speed limits we're going to set?"
Artigas recalled that Spain has been a pioneer in legislating in the face of these challenges, especially with the adoption in 2021 of the Charter of Digital Rights, which includes, among others, the right to disconnection, rest and reconciliation of personal and family life. Another priority, he said, is that "no one is left behind." "AI can contribute to advancing issues such as the achievement of the UN Development Goals, the promotion of sustainability, energy optimization or access to education, and that is where public policies come in," added the Secretary of State.
Ammanath, for his part, picked up that gauntlet and insisted on another of the ideas-strength of the day: the necessary collaboration between the public and the private to face the challenges of the future.
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