Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 10/26/2018

Uruguay’s principal economic engine is its agricultural sector, exporting products such as meat, dairy, grains, and forestry products – 65 percent of exports are agricultural-based products.  About half of all industrial production is dedicated to food processing or the refining of agricultural products.  Uruguay is an attractive market for international companies as purchaser of a variety of manufactured products.

Uruguay is experiencing the longest expansion in its history, with 15 years of economic growth and successful management of regional macroeconomic imbalances.  However, Uruguay’s economic growth slowed to an annual average of 1.6% from 2015 to 2017, negatively affected by a decline in international commodity prices and recessions in Argentina and Brazil — two of Uruguay’s top trading partners.
As of 2017, Uruguay’s top export destinations for its goods were (in rank order): China, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, and the United States.  Uruguay’s top sources of imports of goods in 2017 were China ($1.69 billion), Brazil ($1.64 billion), Argentina ($1.06 billion) and the United States ($880 million).  MERCOSUR countries have lost some import market share to China.  In 2017, Uruguay’s goods imports totalled $8.5 billion.  Some 60 percent of the total were manufactured products such as machinery and electrical equipment, chemical products, transport equipment and foodstuffs.  Between 2012 and 2016, imports fell by an annual average of 2.1 percent.

In 2017, the United States exported $880 million in goods to Uruguay, and imported $456 million, resulting in a U.S. trade surplus of $424 million.  U.S. exports to Uruguay increased 48 percent from 2016, mainly due to the increase in imports of refined oil.

Top four reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to Uruguay:

  • Uruguay is an institutionally stable democratic country with strong rule of law and a commitment to to international agreements and norms.
  • Uruguay has a relatively open trade policy and equal treatment of domestic and international companies.
  • Strategically located between Argentina and Brazil, and at the mouth of ___-mile long riverine transportation system that extends into the heart of South America, Uruguay can serve as as a regional distribution platform and test market.

The U.S.-Uruguay bilateral relationship is strong.  Uruguayan officials and business sector representatives have a favorable view of American business. 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Uruguay Trade Development and Promotion