Uruguay's economy is characterized by an
export-oriented agricultural sector where soy is now a
significant feature of traditional livestock farming. In
addition, Montevideo is an important financial center
and tourism is also important for the economy.
Breeding of cows and sheep, and exports of meat, wool
and skins, have long dominated the economy. Uruguay is
still one of the world's leading exporters of mainly
beef. During the 2000s, cultivated crops, especially
soybeans, have become increasingly important, as are
dairy products (see Agriculture and Fisheries). In
addition, the country has become a leading exporter of
cellulose (see Industry).
Major imports by Uruguay, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
Depending on a few agricultural products, the economy
is sensitive to price fluctuations in the world market.
Investments have therefore been made to develop other
industries in the service sector.
Financial services and tourism
Montevideo has long been considered one of South
America's most important financial services centers. The
country has a reputation for being a tax haven, but
after criticism, banking secrecy has loosened and
Uruguay was removed in 2011 from the economic
cooperation organization OECD 's "gray list" of
countries that do not cooperate sufficiently in respect
of taxable account holdings.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including URU which represents the country of Uruguay.
Since the turn of the millennium, tourism has
accounted for between 10 and 20 percent of GDP. The
fashionable Punte del Este is considered one of Latin
America's most luxurious destinations. Uruguay also
attracts tourists with its miles of sandy beaches and
its mild climate. The old colonial part of Colonia del
Sacramento is included in the UN body UNESCO's list of
world heritage sites.
In 2013, Uruguay climbed past Chile and ranked best
by Latin American countries on the organization
Transparency International's corruption index (see
Democracy and Rights).
By the end of the 20th century, the economy was
growing relatively slowly. In 1999, the country suffered
severe economic problems, after Brazil devalued its
currency, oil became more expensive and prices fell on
Uruguay's export goods. Bad weather hit agriculture and
in 2001 the country was hit by foot-and-mouth disease,
which led to temporary stops for meat exports.
The financial crisis 2002
The problems culminated as the financial crisis in
Argentina spread to Uruguay. In 2002, gross domestic
product (GDP) shrank by more than 10 percent and
unemployment nearly doubled to 17 percent. Inflation
accelerated and foreign debt doubled. The government was
forced to release the fixed exchange rate of the
Uruguayan peso against the US dollar, and the peso's
value fell sharply. As a result, the government ordered
the banks to stay closed for a week to try to find a
solution to the emergency crisis. By then, the central
bank's foreign exchange reserves had fallen to one-fifth
of what it was. Uruguay was forced to receive emergency
loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The cooperation with the IMF limited the effects of
the crisis and the economic recovery went faster than
expected. In 2004–2008, growth averaged 8 percent,
thanks to increased domestic consumption, rising prices
and increased demand for the country's export products
as well as greater tourist influx. A contributing factor
to the rapid recovery was also that Uruguay has strong
institutions - government, parliament and administration
- that could implement the measures required by the IMF.
In 2006, Uruguay had repaid the IMF loans from the
crisis years early.
The global financial crisis of 2008–2009 slowed the
growth rate again, but Uruguay still managed quite well
and in 2010 growth was again up to almost 8 percent. It
then fell again as a result of the slowdown in the world
economy, and not least in Argentina and Brazil, which
Uruguay is dependent on for export, investment and
tourism. It was close to zero growth in 2015 before the
curve gently turned up again.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 17,278 (2018)
US $ 59,597 million (2018)
1.6 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
5.6 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
11.7 percent (2018)
The service sector's share of GDP
60.8 percent (2018)
7.6 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
63.5 percent (2018)
US $ 11 488 million (2018)
US $ 9,123 million (2018)
- US $ 348 million (2018)
Commodity trade's share of GDP
28 percent (2018)
Main export goods
beef, cellulose, soybeans, milk products
Largest trading partner
China, Brazil, Argentina, USA