Uruguay has been a model in many areas and usually it is not noticed because of its small size. The second smallest country in South America, after Suriname, had the highest GDP per capita of the region ($15,438) in 2020, whereas Chile was placed in second position ($13,231). It is the hidden gem between two giants, Argentina and Brazil.
Needless to say that Uruguay’s political and social conditions are among the freest and fairest on the continent. According Democracy Index 2020, Uruguay ranks 15th, ranked between two countries with a deep democratic tradition like Germany (14) and Great Britain (16). Besides that, it is the 2nd country in the region in terms of fair income distribution measured by Gini Index.
With regard to foreign trade, Uruguay was the 97th largest exporting economy in 2020, with a total of $7.01 billion according to the International Trade Centre.
Behind Bolivia (96) with $7.015 billion and followed by Laos (98) with $6.7 billion. The countries within its geographical area of influence like Chile, Argentina and Paraguay were placed in positions 40th, 45th, 88st respectively.
Imports reached $7.66 billion in 2020. The trade balance deficit stood at $657 million.
In 2020, the top exports of Uruguay was:
- Beef, frozen: $1.29 billion (18%)
- Raw lumber: $776 million (11%)
- Soybeans: $753 million (11%)
- Milk and cream: $471 million (7%)
- Rice: $468 million (7%)
As for the imported products in 2020, the top 5 of imports was:
- Petroleum oils, crude: $731 million (10%)
- Telephone sets, incl. phones for cellular networks: $252 million (3%)
- Automobiles for the transport of people: $247 million (3%)
- Insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides: $158 million (2%)
- Medicines: $154 million (2%)
The main destinations for exports were:
- China 27%
- Brazil 14%
- USA 6%
- Argentina 5%
- Algeria 3%
The main origins of imports were:
- Brazil 20%
- China 16%
- Argentina 12%
- USA 11%
- Germany 2%
Its main trading partners (X+M) are China, which represents 21% of exchanges, followed by Brazil with 17%, Argentina with 9% and the United States with 8% of trade exchanges.
When it comes to Service Exports in 2020, the top 5 was:
- Travel: $1.06 billion (30%)
- Other business services: $871 million (25%)
- Telecommunications, computer and information services: $767 million (22%)
- Transportation: $395 million (11%)
- Financial services $282 million (8%)
As for the imported services in 2020, the top 5 was:
- Other business services: $950 million (27%)
- Transportation: $934 million (27%)
- Telecommunications, computer and information services: $619 million (18%)
- Travel: $340 million (10%)
- Financial services: $150 million (5%)
During 2017-2019, foreign direct investment (FDI) received by Uruguay reached an average annual figure of $1.9 billion.
Regarding bilateral agreements, Uruguay has signed and ratified 8 regional trade treaties. Its presence in international markets will be bolstered by 2 new treaties which will come into force soon (at the date of this publication).
In terms of the Human Development Index (HDI), a report published by the United Nations in 2020, Uruguay ranked 55th out of 189 countries.
Click here to subscribe and get for free more information about international markets and foreign trade.
Data from 2020, other years are stated. Photo by Alex Teixeira on Unsplash