Our new Doing Business Guide looks at Uruguay – sometimes called the ‘Switzerland of South America’. The country has earned that moniker as a high income democracy with an advanced education system and liberal social laws. Its three and a half million population is largely concentrated in Montevideo and Uruguay is often regarded as the ideal entry point into the South American market.
Neighbouring Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is a founding member of the Mercosur regional bloc and has a steady average GDP annual growth of between 3 and 5.5%. Its strategic location on the coast of the continent makes it an ideal hub from which to tackle its larger neighbours. Its sound legal framework, respect for the law, excellent logistics and highly qualified population make it a potentially lucrative market in and of itself.
Relations between the EU and Uruguay are governed by the Framework Cooperation Agreement that concluded in 1992, while there are ongoing negotiations for the EU Mercosur Association Agreement. The EU is Uruguay’s third largest trading partner after China and Brazil, with EU exports dominated by manufactured products like chemicals, machinery, foodstuffs and beverage, while service exports are also steadily growing.
The United Kingdom itself has a Bilateral Investment Treaty with Uruguay which entered into force on 1st August 1997. The treaty guarantees British investors certain principles such as the most-favoured-nation clause as well as fair and equitable treatment provisions. Further, the British Embassy Montevideo now offers services from the Department for International Trade, so there is plenty of support available for British companies looking to enter the Uruguayan market.
Britain’s exports to Uruguay include oil products, spirits, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and machinery, with the UK’s trade surplus with Uruguay standing at £157.5 million as of 2016. If you were to set up a presence in Montevideo, you’d be more than likely to see its cosmopolitan citizens wearing British brands like Barbour or Hunter, while riding their Brompton Bikes to work, with Twining’s Tea on the supermarket shelves.
So while Uruguay is nowhere near as large as the Argentinian or Brazilian markets, it is nonetheless an ideal entry point into the South American market due to its high income population and ideal coastal location. As ever, if you’re interested in doing business in Uruguay, the Institute is on hand to help you through its training, education, technical helpline and shipping office.