Located in the southeastern part of South America, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay shipped US$7.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount represents a -16.6% reduction since 2014 and a -3.1% dip from 2017 to 2018.
As of July 24, 2019, Uruguay exported $3.8 billion worth of goods during the first 6 months of 2019 down -0.6% compared to the same period one year earlier.
From a continental perspective, 35.1% of Uruguayan exports by value were delivered to Asian countries, while 31.8% were sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Uruguay shipped 15.2% worth of goods to Europe with another 9.9% arriving in North America and 5.1% to Africa.
Given Uruguay’s population of 3.4 million people, its total $7.6 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $2,300 for every resident in the South American country.
In macroeconomic terms, Uruguay’s total exported goods represent 9.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($81.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 10.7% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Uruguay’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Uruguay also provided $4.9 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 6% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Uruguay’s unemployment rate was 8% at April 2019 up from about 7.9% one year earlier, per Trading Economics.
Uruguay’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Uruguayan global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Uruguay.
- Meat: US$1.9 billion (24.6% of total exports)
- Wood: $1 billion (13.5%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $696.5 million (9.1%)
- Oil seeds: $574.9 million (7.5%)
- Cereals: $426 million (5.6%)
- Live animals: $273.7 million (3.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $261.3 million (3.4%)
- Wool: $247.1 million (3.2%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $222.1 million (2.9%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $207.9 million (2.7%)
Uruguay’s top 10 exports accounted for roughly three-quarters (76.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Exported live animals including cattle was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 22.1% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving export sales were Uruguayan shipments of wool, which improved by 17.1%.
Exported plastics and articles made from plastic posted the third-fastest gain in value thanks to a 16% appreciation.
Leading the declining top product categories were oil seeds, down by -52.9% year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, frozen beef (17%) represents Uruguay’s most valuable exported product followed by rough wood (9.5%), soya beans (7%), concentrated or sweetened milk and cream (6.1%), rice (5.2%), fresh or chilled beef (4.6%), live bovine cattle (3.5%) then malt (2.7%).
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.
- Meat: US$1.7 billion (Up by 9.8% since 2017)
- Wood: $972.9 million (Up by 10.2%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $674 million (Up by 13.2%)
- Oil seeds: $535.7 million (Down by -55.2%)
- Cereals: $277.7 million (Down by -40%)
- Live animals: $268.1 million (Up by 22.1%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $190.9 million (Up by 11.9%)
- Wool: $178.8 million (Up by 10%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $156.6 million (Down by -10.7%)
- Fish: $84 million (Up by 18.8%)
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 -$1.4 billion trade deficit during 2018, up by 139.3% from the -$568.5 million in red ink one year earlier.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.2 billion (Up by 30.2% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$783.6 million (Up by 5.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$654.7 million (Down by -13.6%)
- Vehicles: -$616.6 million (Down by -21.3%)
- Other chemical goods: -$223.7 million (Up by 8.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$221.4 million (Up by 6%)
- Fertilizers: -$219.7 million (Up by 16%)
- Organic chemicals: -$150.9 million (Up by 13.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$146.3 million (Up by 9.6%)
- Paper, paper items: -$134.8 million (Up by 9.7%)
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.
See also Uruguay’s Top 10 Imports, Uruguay’s Top Trading Partners and Capital Facts for Montevideo, Uruguay
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on South America: Uruguay. Accessed on April 6, 2019
Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 6, 2019
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 6, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 3, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 24, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 6, 2019
Wikipedia, Categories: Companies of Uruguay. Accessed on April 6, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 3, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 3, 2019
Wikipedia, Uruguay. Accessed on April 6, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Montevideo, Uruguay. Accessed on April 6, 2019