Uruguay exports grew by 31.3% in value in 2008, its biggest increase in the last four years, despite the negative effects that the international financial crisis had on the country in the last two months of the year, according to an official report.
Figures from Uruguay XXI, the official investment and export promotion institute, showed that in 2008 Uruguayan exports totalled 6.05 billion US dollars. The performance of foreign sales nonetheless varied between the first and second halves of the year. The average monthly increase between January and July was 48.4% compared with 2007, but the decline in recent months has alerted exporters to a possible continuation of unfavourable results through much of 2009, according to the report. November saw a drop of 8.1%, which eased off in December to 2.4%. Despite the decrease in volume sales to some traditional buyers, sales of beef and meat by products continued to spearhead Uruguayan trade, with a value increase of 49.2% during last year. The increase was basically due to the rising price of beef, since the total volume exported dropped 10% compared with 2007. Grain and oil seed sales jumped 59.5% and the third largest export sector, dairy products and honey, rose 24%, again thanks to better market prices. Brazil continued as Uruguay's main trade partner with sales growing 33.2% equivalent to 16.6% of Uruguay's total exports. United States in contrast fell from second place (2007) to seventh for Uruguayan exports during 2008. Argentina moved to second place with an increase of 32.3%, while Russia was third, having multiplied imports from Uruguay three times in 2008.