Uruguayan exports dropped 8.71% and imports 17.62% during 2009 in line with the overall global contraction. Only five of Uruguay’s main trade partners received more exports and only five of the country’s main export products showed an increase in US dollar value sales.
Total exports reached 5.595 billion US dollars compared to 6.019 billion in 2008, according to data from the government sponsored Uruguay XXI Office.
Anyhow “results were better than expected since we were estimating a drop of 10% to 11%, which is good news and anticipates that 2010 should be good for exports, at least during the first months”, said Alejandro Bzurovski, president of Uruguay’s Exporters Union.
“Uruguay really merits a prize since a contraction of 8.6% when global trade slumped 30% in 2009 is a true success”, added Bzurovski.
However frozen beef sales, Uruguay’s main export item, decreased 16.46% in 2009 compared to 2008 which is equivalent to a drop of 147 million USD. Hides experienced a fall of 42.1%, mutton and lamb, 52.5% and fresh beef, 33%. However oil seeds and grains such as wheat soared 39% and 156%. Rice sales to Iraq rocketed 577%.
Brazil was again in 2009 Uruguay’s main trade partner having acquired 20.2% of all exports, equivalent to 1.2 billion USD, up 12.2% over 2008. Sales to China also increased 34% but to Argentina they dropped 7.2%.
December was a particularly active month for exports having shipped overseas 36% more than December 2008, points out Uruguay XXI, which according to Bzurovski “is encouraging news for 2010”.
Nevertheless he pointed out that “we are super-concerned about the strong Uruguayan peso, which could mean a loss of competitiveness in sales overseas”. Uruguay’s currency appreciated strongly (approx. 19%) against the US dollar during 2009.
Imports on the other hand decreased 17.62% in the twelve months of 2009, compared to 2008, totalling 4.6 billion USD which is 989 million USD less than the previous year.
By trade blocks, Mercosur (including Chile and Venezuela) was Uruguay’s main partner having taken 33.1% of exports. The European Union represented 16.4% which is three percentage points less than in 2008 (19.1%). The Nafta block (US, Canada and Mexico), 6.44% (7.2% in 2008), while the rest of the world kept to a similar percentage of 2008, which was 44%