March 16, 2020
“We need to grow heterodoxically“
The president of the Los Grobo Group assures that the country must start to grow now, even if it still has not resolved the debt issue. How agribusiness can contribute more than 3.5% to GDP. Why does he say that the retentions "only benefit Brazil and Uruguay".

Gustavo Grobocopatel, president of the Los Grobo Group, assures that the country must start to grow even though it has not yet resolved the debt issue. How the agribusiness sector can contribute more than three points to GDP. Reforms, withholdings and the agreement with the EU.

When in Argentina you think of a businessman linked to the field, the first name that comes to mind is that of Gustavo Grobocopatel. Not only for being the president of Los Grobo, a group with diversified businesses in agricultural production, crop protection, exports, wheat milling, financing and consulting in agribusiness; but because he does not bite his tongue when he has to comment on the economic and political news of our country. In his note with Fortuna, he denies being the "King of soybeans", affirming that the concept of the countryside is "backward" and assures that the country needs to grow immediately but that to do it in a sustainable way, it is essential to face deep reforms. Furthermore, although he believes that the government of Alberto Fernández is "trying to assume and take charge" of the most urgent issues, he strongly criticizes the retentions to the countryside. "They only benefit Brazil and Uruguay," he explains.

FORTUNA: What is the first reading you make regarding what the Government is doing in these first months of administration?
GROBOCOPATEL: The government is trying to take charge of things and to organize, and it has not yet had time to tackle the issue of growth, which, I believe, is the serious problem that we have had as a country for decades. The reality is that Argentina does not grow. If we had grown to the Latin American average, today we would have 50% more GDP. Lack of growth is what triggers all the rest of our problems, which are poverty, lack of work, low activity and the deterioration of companies, among many others. The great effort, in all this context, has been made by the private sector, because what the public sector has done is constantly increase the tax pressure. The result ?: Poorer companies, less multinationals and a deterioration in the private sector that results in less job creation.

FORTUNA: The analysis that you make coincides with that of Fernández, who affirms that the problem is the lack of growth. However, he believes that to do so, you must first resolve the debt issue. What do you think?
GROBOCOPATEL: I think it is easy to agree that Argentina has a problem with growth. The issue is how we do it. Some believe that the macro must first be accommodated and then begin to grow, while I consider that the subject is so complex, and it is doing us so much damage, that everything must be done simultaneously. Of course, you have to adjust the macro, but in the meantime, you have to start growing in an heterodox way.

FORTUNA: What does it mean to grow in an heterodox way?
GROBOCOPATEL: There are activities in the micro that would allow generating cases of growth that serve to avoid losing positions. I come from the agribusiness sector and there are many opportunities. An example: there is currently the African flu and in China they had to kill a relevant percentage of their pig stock. There we have an opportunity, because we sold China soybeans and corn and today we can sell them meat. We wanted to do it decades ago, but we have the market now. However, we do not have the investments to transform grains into meat in our country. The one that is taking advantage of it is Brazil. So, urgently we have to unleash a kind of investment explosion to transform grains into meat, which will generate exports, foreign exchange, employment; that is, growth.

FORTUNA: Many businessmen expected Mauricio Macri to make profound reforms, but they never came. Do you think this government could carry them out?
GROBOCOPATEL: I always say that more right-wing reforms can be done by a left-wing government, while left-wing reforms can be made easier by a right-wing government, because there are crossed legitimacies. I think that the great responsibility of this Peronist period is to carry out the great reforms, which are fundamental, because the growth we are talking about, without reforms, is not sustainable growth.

FORTUNA: What reforms do you think are necessary?
GROBOCOPATEL: It is another issue that many of us agree on. We have to generate reforms in the State, to have one that is of quality and of the 21st century, that learns and facilitates; labor reforms, that does not imply loss of right, but if one works in a company that is founded there are no rights; educational reforms, since we cannot continue thinking about education from the formal point of view, it must be for life; pension reform, because it is a global issue; and also the tax. Without these structural reforms, growth can be bread for today and bread for tomorrow.

FORTUNA: As for your business, what is the current status of Grupo Los Grobo?
GROBOCOPATEL: We think that the future of agribusiness is important and that Argentina has an important role in the world. And that beyond the turbulence or complications, what it does is accelerate or slow down, but the direction is the same. We are played at being leaders forward. Today we sow more than 200 thousand hectares, but this is in partnerships with clients under the sowing system associated with field owners, contractors or investors. In this sense, the percentage of Los Grobo is less than 50% of that total. It is a risk management tool for soybeans, wheat, corn and legumes, among other products. Por Claudio Celano Gómez. Revista Fortuna.

Automatic translation from spanish.

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