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CORPORATE | 19.05.2021

Huertas at the CEAPI Congress: “Ibero-America is the natural space for us.”

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Why bet on Ibero-America? What are the main concerns for Latin American entrepreneurs? What are the reasons for becoming a productive and creative entrepreneur such as yourself in that space? –”It’s the natural space for Spain,” answered Antonio Huertas, who did not hesitate to admit that there are “problems that cannot be hidden,” such as occasional, very abrupt political changes; youth unemployment; aging and uncertainty.

He explained that Latin America offers many opportunities with respect to more mature markets, where the insurance industry has less capacity to resolve such issues. “Out of all business activities, we offer the most support: Insurance goes wherever it is needed,” he assured.

The Chairman and CEO of MAPFRE took part yesterday in a high-level round table during the IV CEAPI Congress, sharing his vision of the post-pandemic potential of Latin America. The discussion was moderated by Juan Luis Cebrián, a journalist and writer who is Honorary President of El País. Huertas was joined by Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary General, and Enrique Iglesias, Honorary President of CEAPI (Consejo Empresarial Alianza por Iberoamérica — Business Council Alliance for Ibero-America), and the round table took place in the presence of His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain, along with the Spanish Minister of Justice, the Mayor of Madrid, and other notable figures.

Based on their responsibilities and experience, they each reflected on how to foster a courageous and determined transformation in the Ibero-American community. All were in agreement as to the opportunities presented by the 22 countries in the region, as well as the cultural, social and economic values and ties they all share.

For Antonio Huertas, that comfortable space is synonymous with home. “We all want our home to be comfortable and attractive and to be close to the people we love. To me, that’s Ibero-America. Then, if we can also develop new business and grow economically, even better.

He again advocated incentivizing public-private collaboration and the strengthening of institutions. “This is now more necessary than ever, but at the supranational level,” he claimed. “Solving problems requires states and governments to play their part.”

During his contribution, Huertas mainly focused on education. “There is more scope than ever to put a social elevator in place. We have never had as many means as we have now, but we have to ensure that adequate bridges are built to take advantage of those capabilities,” he insisted. He admitted that many people had been left behind over the past decade, following the financial crisis, “and now we must avoid once again putting a lid on their development,” he said in relation to younger generations. What are we doing, if we don’t provide them with the link they need to follow in older generations’ footsteps?

We are currently seeing the discrepancy between business needs and formal education. With digitalization, knowledge sharing and greater competitiveness, we have the right playing field, but our approach to education hasn’t changed since the 16th century. With the pandemic, many children in many countries across Latin America took great problems home with them. “We expect education to serve the economic engine and to teach people how to be good citizens, free from corruption. That is important to corporate citizenship, and is a mark of progress. And it’s one we greatly need,” he continued.

Antonio Huertas spoke of family as the place where value education must stem from; of education and, of course, of work. “We need moral benchmarks, people who teach us what’s required, what to do and what not to do.” He admitted that, for many people, their trustworthiness is put to the test every day in their professional environment. “Education is fundamental in reducing corruption.”

Reasons for growth

The present moment was a resounding theme of the conversation. Enrique Iglesias summed it up as the ushering in of a new era. “The world has opened up completely, we have again shown that globalization is necessary,” Huertas reflected. For Grynspan, “The 21st century starts now. COVID has brought changes for all of us. We will not go back to business as usual, but will adapt to a new form of economy and society.” “Digitalization—provided that it reaches every corner of the planet and every socio-economic sector—will be a great opportunity for that young population to take advantage of the new, greener and bluer economy,” Grynspan declared.