A GLOBAL COMMERCIAL SCENARIO WITH MULTIPLE OPTIONS
Necessary requirements for the development of an assertive strategy
by Félix Peña
English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza
When considering the possibilities for the future
development of foreign trade from the perspective of a country such as
Argentina, among others, it is advisable to acknowledge that the global
commercial scenario presents multiple options. This holds true both for
those who seek to sell goods and services and for those who need to define
what and where is most convenient to buy.
There are three requirements that would be necessary in order to substantially
improve our country's ability to understand the future development of
its foreign trade, in a global context with multiple options and that
is undergoing a process of constant change.
Without dismissing others, these three closely linked requirements
- having human resources capable of understanding other national
realities and their modes of consumption, particularly of those goods
and services that, due to the endowment of its own resources, a country
such as Argentina can produce and eventually export;
- facilitating the development of specialists with sufficient knowledge
of the political, economic, cultural and legal realities of other countries,
including, of course, their foreign relations; and
- having human resources with a reasonable understanding of the predominant
language of other countries and a sound knowledge of the prevailing
customs of their populations.
To conceive and develop a successful strategy for the commercial
insertion in the global scenario of a country such as Argentina, will
require a constant effort from its society to understand the dynamics
of the changes, especially cultural ones, that affect the priorities of
the citizens and consumers in other countries. These have become increasingly
empowered, meaning that they are now fully aware of the numerous options
at their disposal and of their power when deciding what they need or want
One of the effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic has been to accentuate
the relevance of two complementary perspectives that influence the definition
of a country's international insertion strategy. The first of these perspectives
is that of the reality and the interests of the country itself, the second
is that of the world as a whole, not because they can be viewed as a unit,
but because certain external factors that affect a country can only be
understood from a global perspective, i.e., that of the group of countries
in their reciprocal interaction.
When reflecting on the possibilities for the future development of foreign
trade in the perspective of a country such as Argentina, among others,
it is advisable to acknowledge that the global commercial scenario presents
a picture of multiple and growing options. This holds true both for those
who seek to sell goods and services and for those who need to define what
and where it is most convenient for them to buy. (See the
April 2020 edition of this newsletter: "Trade and integration
in a more contagious world. Ideas, beliefs, values, dreams, plagues
a hyper-connected global world ", on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/).
Developing practical knowledge on how to identify such options, from
a specific national perspective, is then one of the needs that Argentine
SMEs that attempt to project successfully to the rest of the world have
This is so because the world today has multiple protagonists with varying
degrees of relative power and with a greater capacity to define their
own strategies for international insertion. The global market is now much
more populated-by countries, companies and people-and, at the same time,
more connected-geographically, economically, digitally and culturally-.
Above all, there is a larger number of consumers that have become aware,
due to their income level and their access to information, of the options
available to them when deciding what they need to buy and where they can
get it, even in markets other than their own.
But, above all, because it is a world where the factor of cultural diversity
has acquired widespread presence and relevance, which makes it even harder
to try to reach these different consumers without adapting the offering
to their tastes, beliefs, values, lifestyles and priorities. This also
involves having an in-depth knowledge of foreign markets, including their
historic roots and differentiating aspects. In general, such knowledge
is acquired by having lived in a country for a certain period of time
and gained experience, in one way or another, of its market.
This is a world in which not only the undergoing profound changes have
become more evident in recent years -and even months, if the experience
of the Covid-19 is taken into account-but which will also continue to
develop in a constant process of change. As we have pointed out before,
these are changes that have an enormous capacity to render obsolete criteria,
concepts and theoretical approaches that have been used for a long time
in an attempt to understand the international reality.
There are three requirements that would seem necessary in order to substantially
improve the ability of a country, such as Argentina, to understand the
future development of its foreign trade in a global context with multiple
options and in a constant process of change.
Without dismissing others, these three closely linked requirements are:
- Having human resources capable of understanding other national realities
and their respective modes of consumption of goods and services that,
due to the endowment of resources, the country can produce and eventually
export. That means to train professionals and technicians to have a
correct and, if possible, direct knowledge of what consumers from other
countries may eventually demand. This kind of knowledge can be acquired
mainly through living in a foreign country for a period of time as a
student, company executive, temporary worker, journalist, artist, scientist,
athlete, diplomat, or any other activity, even as a "backpacker".
This helps capture a more in-depth knowledge of the effects of cultural
diversity with respect to the observer's country of origin;
- Facilitating the development of specialists with sufficient knowledge
of the political, economic, cultural and legal realities of other countries,
including, of course, their foreign relations. This implies human resources
with a sufficient knowledge of literature and history, as well as of
the eventual ethnic or religious diversities of the countries with which
it seeks to increase commercial ties. It involves training people who
can show not only understanding, but, above all, respect and even admiration
for the other country.
- Having human resources with a reasonable understanding of the predominant
language or languages of the foreign country and the main customs of
its population. Although English is a language of universal scope, having
at least an understanding of the predominant language of the foreign
country, when it is not English, is highly advisable for anyone wanting
to live and eventually work there.
These are human resource requirements that can, moreover, affect the
modalities of cooperation between our country and other countries of our
own region (for example, Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance) and other
regions of the world (for example, the European Union; ASEAN and other
Asian schemes of preferential trade and regional development, and the
various processes of African integration), and with countries that, due
to their relative economic dimension, have a strong presence in all regions
of the world, as are undoubtedly China, the US, and several others in
the category of "intermediate powers", especially from Europe,
Asia, Africa and Oceania.
These are requirements to be developed with the necessary interaction
and cooperation between educational institutions of the country itself
and even of other countries and at all levels, including universities;
business chambers and other social institutions; and national and federal
agencies that have a bearing on the promotion and development of foreign
trade and the internationalization of companies, especially SMEs.
A suitable modality for the collaboration and interaction of these different
protagonists can be that of trade laboratories (Tradelab), developed with
special emphasis on the legal aspect. (In this regard refer to the book
by Joors Pauwlyn and Mengvi Wang, listed as recommended reading, among
- Afinogenov, Gregory, "Spies and Scholars. Chinese Secrets and
Imperial Russia's Quest for World Power ", The Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press, Cambridge & London 2020.
- Bircher, Marisa, "Mercosur-UE: un año del consenso que
marca el camino que necesita Argentina", in El Cronista newspaper
, June 27, 2020.
- Elizondo, Marcelo, "Sector automotor: el nuevo pacto con Brasil,
¿es el último paso antes de nuevos cambios?", in
the Foreign Trade Supplement, newspaper La Nación, Thursday June
4, 2020, www.pressreader. com / argentina / lanacion.
- Frankopan, Peter, "El Corazón del Mundo. Una Nueva Historia
Universal",, Editorial Planeta, Barcelona 2016,
- Frankopan, Peter, "Las Nuevas Rutas de la Seda. Presente y Futuro
del Mundo". Editorial Planeta, Barcelona 2016.
- Frankopan, Peter, "Las decisiones que se toman en China la darán
forma al mundo del siglo XXI", interview by Hugo Alconada Mon published
in newspaper "La Nación", June 28, 2020, p. 12, www
.lanation.com.ar / the-world / peter-frankopan-the-decisions-are-made-china-nid2387027.
- Gewen, Barry, "The Inevitability of Tragedy. Henry Kissinger
and his World ", WWNorton & Company, New York 2020.
- Kimmage, Michael, " The Abandonment of the West. The History
of an Idea in American Foreign Policy ", Basic Books, New York
- Klein, Matthew C .; Pettis, Michael, "Trade Wars are Class Wars.
How Rising Inequalities Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International
Peace ", Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2020.
- Nogués, Julio, "Biodiesel: la lección que le dejaron
a la Argentina las disputas con EE.UU y la UE", in "The Chronicler,"
June 24, 2020
- Nye, Joseph S. Jr., "Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreing
Policy from FDR to Trump ", Oxford University Press, New York 2020.
- Pauwlyn, Joost; Wang, Mengvi (eds),"Building Legal Capacity
for a More Inclusive Globalization. Barriers to and Best Practices for
Integrating Developing Countries into Global Economic Regulation ",
The Graduate Institute - Center for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI),
- Peña, Félix, "Un quiebre bajo análisis:
¿considera el gobierno de Brasil dejar el Mercosur?", published
in the Foreign Trade Supplement of newspaper La Nación, Thursday,
June 18, 2020, www.lanacion.com. ar / economy / evalua-brazil-leave-mercosur-nid2380362.
- Scott, Andres J .; Gratton, Lynda, "The New Long Life. A Framework
for Flourishing in a Changing World ", Bloomsbury, London 2020.
- Sinclair, Upton, " The Jungle ", Xist Publishing, Tustin
- Sinclair, Upton,"Worlds End ", Open Road, New York 2016.
Félix Peña Director
of the Institute of International Trade at the ICBC Foundation. Director
of the Masters Degree in International Trade Relations at Tres de Febrero
National University (UNTREF). Member of the Executive Committee of the
Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Member of the Evian
Group Brains Trust. More