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flag Uruguay Uruguay: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Main International Economic Cooperation
Uruguay is member of the Latin American Integration Association. It also belongs to the Mercosur, and has signed a free trade agreement with Mexico. The country have signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).
Non Tariff Barriers
Uruguay has a liberal import policy. There is no quota system. License is required for the import of products such as medical equipment, chemicals, cattle, sugar, cereals, meat and flour. All importers should nevertheless be registered with the Central Bank and declare all their imports by filling an import declaration. Recording Certificates are valid for 180 days. A deadline for customs clearance of the goods is fixed.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Uruguay applies the Harmonized Customs System (SH)

Customs Classification
Uruguay applies the harmonized Customs System, based on the World Customs Organization's system. Customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods. However, Uruguay applies some minimum price for textile and clothing imports. Importers have to pay the difference between the amount of the invoice and the minimum price. The custom duties are payable on that minimal price. Uruguay is not part of the WTO.

Uruguay is a member of the MERCOSUR (Mercado Comun del Sur, gathering Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay and Uruguay), aimed at creating a free trade zone, a common external tariff and a free circulation zone for goods, services, capitals and persons. Customs duties between member countries were theoretically abolished in 1994, with nevertheless a lot of exceptions, according to the "adaptation regime" (Regimen de adecuacion).

The common external tariff (CET) does ot concern all products, currently: only 75% of the tariff lines benefit from a single tariff. The goods still outside the system, for the 4 countries are: equipment goods, IT, telecommunications, cars and sugar sectors.

Import Procedures
The AEC applies ad valorem on the CIF value of imported goods. This custom policy should be approached cautiously, since countries apply more or less the central directives according to their economic situation. It also important to mention that re-exporting within a member country doesn't lead to custom duty exemption: For instance, if you export a product to Uruguay, and sell it to Brazil, you would have to pay Uruguayan customs, and later on Brazilian customs. To avoid such a situation, it is highly recommended to use free zones
Importing Samples
The import of sample is tax free if  the value of goods in customs doesn't exceed USD 100 for each delivery.
For Further Information
National Customs Office

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Although the consumer's profile has change during the past decade (younger, more demanding, more differentiated), the Uruguayan remains conservative while making important buying decisions, such as purchasing utility goods, furniture, cars or household appliances.

The consumer's principal criteria are safety, efficiency and discretion. Nevertheless, he doesn't hesitate to take risks when it comes to food, hygiene products or cleaning products.

Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The urban population is quite different from the rural population because of the income gap. Urban people have a rather western consumer's behavior, while the rural people are less demanding and are more interested in traditional products.

High, medium high and medium class households invest most of their money in furniture acquisition, accessories, leisure time and education. Lower class households focus more on satisfaction of their basic needs, food products mostly.

Touristic centers have the specificity of having a luxurious consumption. The average consumer is characterized by its conservative behavior.

Consumers Associations
Consumidor , Uruguayan body for consumer defense
Main Advertising Agencies
BTL Promotion agency
Association advertisement agencies of Uruguay

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Distributing a Product

Market Shares
Estimations show that between big stores and superstores, there are 128 selling points (33.7% of invoicing), 846 small retail stores (31.5%) and 9151 traditional shops (34.9% of invoicing).

Multinationals own 75% of big retail chains. The Dico-Devoto is the largest since they own the "Disco" supermarkets (27 stores), "Devoto" (25 stores) and the superstore "Geant".

In terms of importance, these three are followed by the group "Henderson & Cia" with the "Tienda Inglesa" chain (9 stores), the "Multiahorro" chain (30 medium retail stores), "Ta-Ta" (20 small and medium stores), "El Dorado" chain from the "Polakof & Cia" mainly located in the countryside (40 stores, supermarkets and small retail stores)

Organizations in the Retail Sector
Association of Uruguay supermarkets (in Spanish)
Main Association of Uruguayan shopkeepers

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
The main mode of transport for goods is by sea. Road shipping and railway are also used, but to a lesser extent. Air shipping is mainly used for lighter goods.
The ports of Uruguay
International Carrasco Airport, Montevideo
Sea Transport Organizations
Sea shipping regulations.
Air Transport Organizations
National Office of civil aviation and aeronautical infrastructure.
Road Transport Organizations
Ministry of transportation
Rail Transport Organizations
Railway transport administration

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Industry accounts for 30% of the GDP. Principally dealing with agriculture, breeding and ore production.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Cámara de industrias del Uruguay - Database of companies located in Uruguay.
Commercial directory - Find a business in Uruguay.
Guía Industrial del Uruguay - Business directory in Uruguay
Uruguayxxi - Directory of Uruguayan exporters.
Yellow pages - Find businesses in Uruguay.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
9 professional associations listed for Uruguay.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Chamber of Commerce of Uruguay
Chamber of industry of Uruguay
Enterprises Federation
Association of medium and small companies
National Directorate of handicrafts, small and medium enterprises
Association of young entrepreneurs
Association of christian business managers

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Last Updates: October 2014