Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Uruguayan peso depreciated by -27.4% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -12% from 2018 to 2019. Uruguay’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
From a continental perspective, 39.4% of Uruguayan exports by value were delivered to Asian countries, while 30.8% were sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Uruguay shipped 14.1% worth of goods to Europe with another 9.6% arriving in North America, 5.8% in Africa and 0.2% in Oceania led by French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia.
br>Given Uruguay’s population of 3.5 million people, its total $7.8 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $2,200 for every resident in the South American country.
Uruguay’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Uruguayan global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Uruguay.
- Meat: US$2.1 billion (26.9% of total exports)
- Oil seeds: $1 billion (13.4%)
- Wood: $957.5 million (12.3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $664.6 million (8.5%)
- Cereals: $471.3 million (6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $260.8 million (3.3%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $223.5 million (2.9%)
- Wool: $185.9 million (2.4%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $155.1 million (2%)
- Vehicles: $154.1 million (2%)
Uruguay’s top 10 exports accounted for almost four-fifths (79.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Oil seeds represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 81.8% since 2018. In second place for improving export sales was meat thanks to a 11.5% gain. Uruguay’s shipments of cereals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 10.6% year over year.
The leading decliner among Uruguay’s top 10 export categories was the raw hides, skins not furskins and leather which fell -30.2%
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Uruguay’s most valuable exported products in 2019 were frozen beef (19.3% of Uruguay’s total exports), soya beans (12.9%), rough wood (8.9%), concentrated or sweetened milk and cream (5.8%), rice (4.8%), fresh or chilled beef (4.3%), malt (2.8%), red meat offal (1.9%), plastic packing goods, lids and caps (also 1.9%) then trucks (1.5%).
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$1.9 billion (Up by 7.8% since 2018)
- Oil seeds: $1 billion (Up by 90.6%)
- Wood: $911.1 million (Down by -6.3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $640.7 million (Down by -4.9%)
- Cereals: $390.6 million (Up by 40.6%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $209.3 million (Up by 9.6%)
- Wool: $123 million (Down by -31.2%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $104.9 million (Down by -33%)
- Live animals: $98.6 million (Down by -63.2%)
- Fish: $86.2 million (Up by 2.7%)
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 -$497.6 million trade deficit during 2019, down by -63.4% from the -$1.4 billion 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 billion (Down by -14.6% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$753.9 million (Down by -3.8%)
- Vehicles: -$620.9 million (Up by 0.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$602.7 million (Down by -7.9%)
- Fertilizers: -$223.5 million (Up by 1.7%)
- Other chemical goods: -$222.2 million (Down by -0.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$183.7 million (Down by -17%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$133.6 million (Down by -8.6%)
- Organic chemicals: -$132.9 million (Down by -12%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$132.3 million (Up by 3.8%)
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)
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 2019 matches that for one year earlier. This seem to indicate a relatively stagnant reliance on products sold on international markets for Uruguay’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Uruguay’s average unemployment rate was 8.568% for 2019 up from 8.367% in 2018, per the International Monetary Fund.
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: Country Profiles. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 5, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 5, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 5, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Wikipedia, Categories: Companies of Uruguay. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on February 5, 2020
Wikipedia, Uruguay. Accessed on February 5, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Montevideo, Uruguay. Accessed on February 5, 2020