Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Uruguayan peso depreciated by -27.4% against the US dollar since 2015 and dropped by -12% from 2018 to 2019. Uruguay’s weaker local currency makes Uruguayan imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Uruguayan peso.
From a continental perspective, four-fifths of Uruguay’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from fellow Latin American countries excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Asian trade partners supplied 23.5% of import buys from Uruguayan importers while 14% worth of goods originated from Europe. At 13.1%, a smaller percentage came from North America with 8.6% furnished by African exporters and 0.2% from Oceania led by New Zealand and Australia.
Given Uruguay’s population of 3.5 million people, its total $8.3 billion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $2,400 in yearly product demand from every person in the South American nation.
Uruguay’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Uruguay’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Uruguay.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.1 billion (13.2% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $776.4 million (9.3%)
- Vehicles: $775 million (9.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $663.3 million (8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $444.4 million (5.3%)
- Other chemical goods: $274.7 million (3.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $255.5 million (3.1%)
- Meat: $240.7 million (2.9%)
- Fertilizers: $234.6 million (2.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $185.9 million (2.2%)
Uruguay’s top 10 imports accounted for 59.6% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Three gainers among Uruguay’s top 10 import categories from 2018 to 2019 were meat (up 51.8%), Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings (up 22.2%) then pharmaceuticals (up 2%).
The leading decliner was mineral fuels including oil, thanks to a -15.9% reduction year over year. This category was dragged down by lower costs for Uruguay’s international purchases petroleum oils and gas.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2019, Uruguayan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$990.6 million (down -16.2% from 2018)
- Petroleum gases: $49.6 million (down -8.4%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $34.9 million (down -34.8%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $9.8 million (up 457.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $9.3 million (down -23.2%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $2.7 million (up 154.4%)
- Peat: $1.6 million (up 7.7%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $914,000 (down -19.1%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $741,000 (down -14.9%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $62,000 (down -27.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Uruguayan purchases of natural bitumen, asphalt and shale (up 457.2%), asphalt or petroleum bitumen mixes (up 154.4%) then peat (up 7.7%) grew 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Uruguayan businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Uruguayan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$101.2 million (down -13.1% from 2018)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $47.7 million (down -3.3%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $39.3 million (down -20.6%)
- Sort/screen/washing machinery: $36.4 million (up 43.7%)
- Printing machinery: $34.3 million (up 0.6%)
- Air conditioners: $32.6 million (down -0.7%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $32.2 million (up 4.9%)
- Lifting/loading machinery: $27.7 million (up 44.7%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $26.7 million (down -6.9%)
- Harvest/threshing machinery: $26 million (down -17.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Uruguayan purchases of lifting and loading machinery (up 44.7%), sorting, screening or washing machinery (up 43.7%) then centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 4.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of machinery-related imports (including computers) among Uruguayan businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Uruguayan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles including non-motorized products.
- Cars: US$299.8 million (down -9.2% from 2018)
- Trucks: $185.5 million (up 8.8%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $140.1 million (down -4.8%)
- Tractors: $59.4 million (up 22.8%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $29 million (up 23.5%)
- Motorcycles: $25.5 million (up 5.1%)
- Trailers: $14.7 million (down -18%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $9.8 million (down -27.4%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $4.5 million (down -6.2%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $3.5 million (down -59.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Uruguayan purchases of public-transport vehicles (up 23.5%), tractors (up 22.8%) then trucks (up 8.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported road vehicles including non-motorized products among Uruguayan businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Uruguayan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics and electricity-related products.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$284.6 million (down -6.8% from 2018)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $70.1 million (down -11.9%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $27.7 million (down -12.3%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $27 million (down -1.7%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $26.6 million (down -9.7%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $24.9 million (down -15.3%)
- Electric storage batteries: $23.8 million (down -7.9%)
- Microphones/headphones/amps: $14.1 million (up 15.6%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $12.5 million (up 6.1%)
- Electrical machinery: $12.4 million (up 19.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Uruguayan purchases of electrical machinery (up 19.5%), microphones, headphones and amplifiers (up 15.6%) then unrecorded sound media (up 6.1%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of electricity-related imports among Uruguayan businesses and consumers.
See also Uruguay’s Top 10 Exports, Uruguay’s Top Trading Partners and Capital Facts for Montevideo, Uruguay
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International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 5, 2020
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Wikipedia, Uruguay. Accessed on February 5, 2020