China became Uruguay's main trade partner in 2013 totaling 20.9% of all trade according to the latest stats from the Central bank. This leaves China three percentage points ahead of Brazil, 18.8% (traditionally the main partner) and almost four ahead of Argentina with 18.1%.
Uruguay's total trade with China reached 4.1bn. dollars, of which exports 2.143bn and imports 1.929bn dollars, with a minimum surplus. However the range of products exported to China has expanded from greasy wool to include soy, beef, pulp and dairy products (68m). More specifically last year Uruguay's record soy crop was absorbed mostly by China, 66.4% equivalent to 1.246bn dollars.
China also became in 2013, Uruguay's main client for beef, 263 million dollars, more than double the 114m exported to Russia. On its side China was Uruguay's main supplier of cellular phones and computers.
Argentina is a special case for Uruguay. While the sustained delays and obstacles from the government of President Cristina Fernandez limited Uruguay's exports to 496 million dollars in 2013 compared to the 529m of 2012, Argentina was the third supplier of goods with 1.623bn dollars a slight increase over the 1.612 from 2012.
Overall South America absorbed 3.391bn dollars of Uruguay's exports equivalent to 34%, followed by the 2.662bn exported to Asia or 26.5%. Europe dropped three percentage points to 20%, just over 2bn dollars. North America follows with 6.7% and Africa, 5.5%.
Regarding imports, South America was also the main supplier with 3.65bn dollars, followed by China with 2.732bn dollars.