Uruguay’s Top 10 Exports

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Uruguay shipped US$7.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017, down by -15% since 2013 but up by 10.7% from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Uruguay’s exported goods plus services represent 22.3% of total Uruguayan economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 35% of Uruguayan exports by value were delivered to Latin American countries (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean, while 32% were sold to Asian importers. Uruguay shipped another 20% worth of goods to Europe with another 10% arriving in North America.

Given Uruguay’s population of 3.4 million people, its total $7.7 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $2,300 for every resident in that country.

Uruguay’s unemployment rate was 7.71% as of November 2017 per Trading Economics.

Uruguay’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Uruguayan global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Uruguay.

  1. Meat: US$1.7 billion (22.4% of total exports)
  2. Oil seeds: $1 billion (13.6%)
  3. Wood: $804.2 million (10.4%)
  4. Dairy, eggs, honey: $618.5 million (8%)
  5. Cereals: $542.2 million (7%)
  6. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $243.8 million (3.2%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $226.6 million (2.9%)
  8. Live animals: $223.8 million (2.9%)
  9. Wool: $212.1 million (2.8%)
  10. Mineral fuels including oil: $206.2 million (2.7%)

Uruguay’s top 10 exports accounted for three-quarters (75.9%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Oil seeds was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 20.4% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales were Uruguayan shipments of plastics and articles made from plastic, which improved by 15.5%.

Exported live animals including cattle posted the third-fastest gain in value up 11.6%.

Two product categories declined in value: cereals with a modest -0.2% drop led by rice, wheat and corn; and raw hides, skins excluding furskins and leather which depreciated by -12.6% year over year.


The following types of Uruguayan product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Meat: US$1.6 billion (Up by 7.2% since 2016)
  2. Oil seeds: $1 billion (Up by 24%)
  3. Wood: $760.4 million (Up by 3.5%)
  4. Dairy, eggs, honey: $596.3 million (Up by 7.5%)
  5. Cereals: $479.1 million (Up by 0.1%)
  6. Live animals: $219.5 million (Up by 12.3%)
  7. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $176.1 million (Down by -14.3%)
  8. Milling products, malt, starches: $172.1 million (Up by 20.3%)
  9. Wool: $163.4 million (Up by 8.6%)
  10. Fish: $73.7 million (Up by 13.6%)

Uruguay has highly positive net exports in the international trade of meat, and in particular beef. In turn, these cashflows indicate Uruguay’s strong competitive advantages under the meat product category.


Overall Uruguay incurred a -$645.5 million trade deficit during 2017, down by -45% from the -$1.2 billion in red ink in 2016.

Below are exports from Uruguay that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Uruguay’s goods trail Uruguayan importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$884.3 million (Up by 10.1% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles : -$780.6 million (Up by 29.8%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$709.7 million (Down by -12.7%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$700.7 million (Down by -37.4%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$207.3 million (Down by -6.4%)
  6. Other chemical goods: -$204.5 million (Up by 11.4%)
  7. Fertilizers: -$189.5 million (Up by 5%)
  8. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$133.3 million (Up by 15.9%)
  9. Organic chemicals: -$133.2 million (Up by 2.8%)
  10. Pharmaceuticals: -$129.8 million (Up by 29.3%)

Uruguay has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude and refined petroleum oils as well as petroleum gases.


Uruguayan Export Companies

Not one Uruguayan corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia lists exporters from Uruguay. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Aeromás (airliner)
  • Alas Uruguay (airlines start-up)
  • Effa Motor (vehicles)
  • Texlond Corporation (aircraft manufacturer)
  • Union Agriculture Group (rice, soya beans, wheat, sheep, cattle)

Uruguay’s capital city is Montevideo, Uruguay.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Uruguay’s Top 10 Imports, Uruguay’s Top Import Partners and Capital Facts for Montevideo, Uruguay

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 6, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 6, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 6, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on December 20, 2016

Wikipedia, Categories: Companies of Uruguay. Accessed on December 20, 2016

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on December 20, 2016

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Montevideo, Uruguay. Accessed on December 20, 2016