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flag Uruguay Uruguay: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

Apart from the inflation rate, which was more than 8.5% in 2013 after 8.1% in 2012, all the macroeconomic data are sound and the country maintains its image of political and economic stability.

After having experienced an annual growth higher than 6% in the years 2004-2008 and being affected by the global economic crisis and a strong drought, Uruguay has kept a positive growth since 2009, supported by the increase of public expenditures and investments.  Thanks to the rebound of exports and the dynamism of domestic demand, the revival was quick and vigorous. The growth has reached 4% of the GDP in 2013 after 3.5% in 2012.

The 2010-2014 budgets have placed emphasis on the reduction of the public debt, the increase of expenditures in infrastructures and education, the creation of funds that will permit to face the fluctuations in the cost of electricity production due to bad weather.  In the meantime, in order to encourage growth, the government is seeking to develop investment projects in the energy and transport sectors promoting public/private partnerships.

Uruguay has on one of the highest GDP per capita in South America, the unemployment rate was 6.1% of the active population in 2013. The population still living beyond the poverty line went from 40% in 2004 to 12% in 2013.

Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 47.2450.0155.71e55.60e58.06
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 7.33.7e4.42.82.8
GDP per Capita (USD) 14,02314,792e1616,33216,996
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -1.9-2.5-3.7e-4.1-3.7
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 59.059.5e62.166.467.3
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -1.37-2.71-3.14e-3.63e-3.71
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.9-5.4e-5.6e-6.5-6.4

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture (the largest export sector) and fishing contributes 7.5% to the GDP. Uruguay has rich agricultural land.  Almost 90% of the land is devoted to livestock breeding (cattle, sheep, horses and pigs). Rice is the main crop, followed by wheat, corn and sugar cane. There is also a gardening market and fruit farming as well as a wine-growing industry all along the coast of the Rio de la Plata.

The industrial sector has contributed to 21.5% of the country's GDP in 2013 and employed around 22% of the active population. Agriculture and animal food processing account for half of the industrial activity, which represents about one fourth of the GDP. Other manufacturing activities include beverages (especially wines), textiles, construction materials, chemicals, oil and coal.

Services contribute to 71% of the GDP and employs nearly 70% of the active population, mainly in the financial services and tourism sectors.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 10.9 21.1 68.0
Value Added (in % of GDP) 10.0 25.4 64.6
Value Added (Annual % Change) 5.4 4.1 4.2

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Uruguayan Peso (UYU) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 22.5720.0619.3120.3120.48

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Uruguay on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Moderately Free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Uruguay has an open economy and foreign trade represented about 55% of the GDP in 2013. Uruguay is a member of Mercosur (common market between Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil) and is strongly depending on this common market.

its economy is based on industry, trade and banking services (in the capital Montevideo), as well as agriculture, livestock farming (in the center of the country) and tourism (East). Meat and cereals represented 30% of all exports in 2013 and paper industry around 7%. Tourism provides an large inflow of foreign currency, and it contributed to more than 6% to the 2013 GDP. The economy has diversified in the past few years and this is benefiting exports.

Uruguay's main clients in 2013 were China, Brazil, Argentina, and the European Union. The commodities exported are mainly meats, dairy products, leather and raw skins, cereals and wool.

The country's main suppliers are Argentina, Brazil, China and the United States. The country mainly imports mineral fuels and oil, machinery, electric & electronic equipment, vehicles and plastics.  Structurally in deficit, Uruguay's trade balance has seen an improvement in 2013 due to the growth in exports.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 6,9078,62210,72611,65211,642
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,4056,7247,9128,7439,066
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,0721,4701,9782,2623,111
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,1322,6543,5533,3493,046
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -9.214.913.214.02.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 27.226.327.430.127.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Trade Balance (million USD) -504-527-1,431-2,361-1,302
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 52163089-1,287-1,194
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 55.453.554.256.751.3

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Brazil 18.9%
China 14.2%
Argentina 5.4%
Venezuela 4.9%
United States 3.9%
See More Countries 52.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 16.9%
Brazil 15.8%
Argentina 14.2%
United States 8.7%
Nigeria 5.0%
See More Countries 39.4%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Soya beans, whether or not brokenSoya beans, whether or not broken 20.7%
Meat of bovine animals, frozenMeat of bovine animals, frozen 10.4%
RiceRice 5.6%
Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added...Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter 5.1%
Meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilledMeat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled 4.0%
See More Products 54.3%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 13.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 4.3%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.6%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl....Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 2.4%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.2%
See More Products 74.1%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2012
- bn USD of services imported in 2012

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Economy and Finances (in Spanish)
General Tax Office
Central system of financial information
Statistical Office
National Institute of Statistics (in Spanish)
Central Bank
Central Bank of Uruguay
Stock Exchange
Uruguay Stock Exchange (in Spanish)
Montevideo Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Uruguay Total
Google Uruguay
Red Academy of Uruguay
Economic Portals

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Political Outline

Main Political Parties
Uruguay has a multi-party system, with three dominant political parties. It has been extremely difficult for any other political party to achieve electoral success. However, Uruguay’s first coalition government came to power in 2005. The three dominant parties are:
- Colorado Party- a liberal and social-democratic party, the most elected party in Uruguayan history;
- National Party - a liberal conservative party also called ‘White Party’;
- Independent Party - a social democratic and Christian socialist party, advocates ‘Third Way’ - an alternative to the traditional left- and right-wing politics.
Current Political Leaders
President: Jose "Pepe" MUJICA Cordano (since March 2010) – MPP
Next Election Dates
Chamber of Senators: October 2014
Chamber of Representatives: October 2014
Presidential: October 2014

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
1 place up compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: October 2014