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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

The Uruguayan economy is significantly dependent on its neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. In 2022, GDP increased by an estimated 5.3%, mainly due to an increase in tourism and in agricultural production.The economy is expected to continue growing in the coming years, albeit at a slower pace, with the IMF predicting growth of 3.6% for 2023 and 2.7% for 2024.

In 2022, inflation remained above the target of 7%, reaching an estimated 9.1%. However, that rate should decrease in 2023 and 2024, to 7.8% and 6.4%, respectively. Public debt decreased to 61.2% of GDP in 2022, but it's expected to increase to 62.6% in 2023 and 63.9% in 2024. Moreover, the fiscal deficit slightly increased to 2.7% in 2022, but it should slightly fluctuate in the coming years, reaching 2% in 2023 and 2.3% in 2024. Furthermore, the current account went into an estimated 1.2% deficit in 2022, and that rate is expected to increase to 1.9% in 2023 and 2% in 2024. The economy has diversified in the past few years with the development of the industry sector (particularly the paper industry), as well as commerce and services. The government's fiscal policies are focused on restoring business profitability as a way to encourage investment and foster economic growth. Its priorities include reducing the large fiscal deficit  through a programme involving austerity and rationalisation of public spending (particularly through a better management of state-owned companies), while maintaining benefits for the most vulnerable sectors. Other key elements are the commitment to open trade, the reform of labour relations, and regulatory and management changes in public enterprises. Although the pandemic has impacted the Uruguayan economy, it had relatively little impact when compared to other countries in the region. Still, Uruguay's fiscal measures implemented to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic have been effective in boosting economic activity, which has been gradually recovering. Looking ahead, recovery should continue, albeit at a slower pace, due to the fading impact of a low base effect, tighter monetary policy and heightened inflationary pressures.

Uruguay has one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in South America and a developing middle class. The country has had strong political and social stability for years, backed by a consolidated democracy and strong legal security, which makes it attractive to investors. Furthermore, the population living below the poverty line has decreased significantly in the past decade, from 40% in 2004 to 6.2% in 2016, due to a solid social contract and economic openness. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of financial transparency. The unemployment rate decreased to 7.9% in 2022, as the country recovered from the impacts of the pandemic, and it should remain stable in 2023 and 2024.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 53.5659.3271.8977.3180.81
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 15,16816,74320,22221,67722,586
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -2.7-1.5-2.2-2.0-2.4
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 68.265.661.062.362.7
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -0.49-1.59-1.77-1.94-1.75
Current Account (in % of GDP) -0.9-2.7-2.5-2.5-2.2

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by La Coface.



Main Sectors of Industry

Uruguay’s natural resources are very limited, mainly due to country's size. There is a significant mining industry in the country, which mainly revolves around basalt, dolomite, limestone, quartz, granite and marble. There is only one gold-producing mine in Uruguay, and the country is a major producer of cement and semi-precious stones, particularly agate and amethyst. Even though only around 10% of the land is arable, agriculture is the largest export sector in Uruguay. It accounts for 6.9% of the GDP and employs 8.4% of the active population. Uruguay has rich agricultural land and almost 90% of it is devoted to livestock breeding (cattle, sheep, horses and pigs). Rice is the main crop, followed by wheat, maize, sugar cane, soybeans, and tobacco. Vegetable and fruit farming are also present throughout the country, as well as a prominent wine industry along the coast of the Rio de la Plata. Overall, 2022 was a good year for the sector, which had a triple success: good prices, good yields and good climatic conditions.

The industrial sector contributes to 18.9% of the country's GDP and employs 18.8% of the active population. Agriculture and animal food processing account for half of the industrial activity. Other manufacturing activities include beverages (especially wine), textiles, construction materials, chemicals, oil and coal. Additionally, Uruguay has recently invested heavily in the paper industry, which is expanding. Industrial activity in Uruguay registered was satble in 2022, registering the stronger growth in the construction industry.

The services sector contributes to 62% of the GDP and employs 72.8% of the active population, mainly in finance and tourism. Particularly, the region around Punta del Este attracts a large number of visitors, which has driven the rise in building, leading to a construction boom in the area in recent years. Although the services sector was hit the hardest during the pandemic, the sector registered an overall growth in 2022, with the recovery being mainly driven by commerce, restaurants, hotels, and transport.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 8.4 18.8 72.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 6.9 18.9 62.0
Value Added (Annual % Change) 5.3 5.9 3.7

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Uruguayan Peso (UYU) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 30.1628.6830.7335.3042.01

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

Uruguay has an open economy and foreign trade represents 56.8% of the GDP. The country mainly exports meat (21%), soya beans (9.4%), wood (7.4%), milk and cream (5.8%), and electrical energy (5.5%). The main imports include petroleum oils (13.1%), motor vehicles (6.5%), telephone sets (2.6%), insecticides (2.1%), and mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (2%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by 14.4% in 2022, while the volume of imports of goods and services increased by 20.9%.

Uruguay's main trade partners are China, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Nigeria, and the Netherlands. The Uruguayan economy is based on industry, trade and banking services (in the capital Montevideo), as well as agriculture, livestock farming (in the centre of the country) and tourism (in the East). Uruguay is a founding member of MERCOSUR, upon which it strongly depends. The country is also a member of ALADI, a trade association that includes ten South American countries as well as Cuba, Mexico, and Panama. Under ALADI’s Economic Complementation Agreements, Uruguay enjoys and grants special preferential access to trade with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Additionally, trade relations with Argentina and Brazil are extremely important, as those countries account for over half of Uruguay’s exports and imports, combined.

As Uruguay mainly exports agricultural products, they are highly vulnerable to international price fluctuations. In 2021, the country's exports of goods amounted to USD 9.5 billion, while imports totalled USD 10.3 billion. As for services, imports equalled USD 3.9 billion, while exports reached USD 3.7 billion. As a result, the country had a trade surplus in terms of goods of USD 3.9 billion and a trade surplus including services of USD 3.7 billion.

Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 8,4588,8938,2467,56410,320
Exports of Goods (million USD) 7,8887,4987,6806,8579,539
Imports of Services (million USD) 3,4384,4224,5963,4293,929
Exports of Services (million USD) 4,9595,3505,2063,4993,776

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 46.847.849.645.856.8
Trade Balance (million USD) 1,9572,2913,0752,0763,963
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 3,4783,2683,7512,3843,769
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 7.1-0.01.5-12.020.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.9-1.73.6-16.014.4
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 20.721.421.920.725.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.126.427.825.131.5

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20222023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 5.9-
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change)

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

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).

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
China 27.1%
Brazil 18.3%
United States 5.7%
Argentina 4.9%
Netherlands 2.5%
See More Countries 41.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Brazil 20.0%
China 19.4%
Argentina 12.7%
United States 9.0%
Angola 2.8%
See More Countries 36.1%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data



Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Luis Lacalle Pou (since March 1st, 2020)
Vice President: Beatriz Argimón (since March 1st, 2020)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: October 27th, 2024
Chamber of Senators: October 27th, 2024
Chamber of Representatives: October 27th, 2024
Main Political Parties
Uruguay has a multi-party system with three dominant political coalitions. Outside of these coalitions, it is extremely difficult for any other political party to achieve electoral success. The dominant political forces are:

- Broad Front (FA): centre-left; maintained majority since 2009; broad coalition of 21 groups, including the Movimiento de Participación Popular (MPP), the Partido Socialista (PS), and the Vertiente Artiguista (VA)
- National Party (PN): conservative party, nationalist, liberal, also referred to as the "White Party"
- Open Cabildo (Cabildo Abierto): right-wing, populist, conservative
- Ecologist Radical Intransigent Party (PERI): centre to centre-left, green politics, liberal
- Colorado Party: centre-right, a liberal and social-democratic party, the most elected party in Uruguayan history
- Independent Party (PI): centre, a social democratic and Christian socialist party, advocates "Third Way" - an alternative to the traditional left and right-wing politics
- Popular Unity (UP): coalition of left-wing and far-left, Marxist-communist, anti-imperialist
- Party of the People (Partido de la Gente): right-wing, populist, conservative
- Green Animalist Party (PVA): centre to centre-right, green conservatism, animal rights, direct democracy
- Workers' Party (Partido de los Trabajadores): far-left, Trotskyist, socialist
- Digital Party (Partido Digital): the party advocated for e-democracy and is against being labelled either right, centre, or left.

Executive Power
The President of the Republic is both the Head of State and the Head of Government, and is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. While the President may be reelected any number of times, immediate reelection is not allowed by the constitution.
Legislative Power
Parliament is bicameral. The General Assembly is made up of the Chamber of Senators, which is composed of 30 members directly elected to serve 5-year terms; and the Chamber of Representatives, composed of 99 members directly electedto serve 5-year terms.


COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID19 disease in Uruguay, please visit the Uruguayan government platform with the official data. Official information on the progress of the epidemic in Uruguay is consolidated by the Ministry of Health. The ministry provides a daily epidemiological update, which includes key national figures.

For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.

Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest public health situation in Uruguay and the current sanitary measures in vigour, please consult the Uruguayan government platform on COVID-19 including the up-to-date information on the containment measures put in place and public health recommendations.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
For the information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the portal of the Uruguayan National Customs Directorate.

For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Uruguay on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.

Economic recovery plan
For the information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Uruguayan government to address the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the Uruguayan economy, please visit the website of the Uruguayan Ministry of the Economy. The information on the Uruguayan economic emergency plan is available here.

For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and  macroeconomic) taken by the French government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,  please consult the section dedicated to France in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.

Support plan for businesses
For the information on the local business support scheme established by the Uruguayan government to help small and  medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID19 epidemic on their activity, please consult  the portal of the National Development Agency.

For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Support plan for exporters
To find out about the support plan for exporters put in place by the Uruguayan government, please consult the support plan for Uruguayan exporting companies available on the Uruguayan Agency for the Promotion of Investments, Exports and Country Image website.