By S. Pelin Berkmen, Dmitry Gershenson, Luis Herrera Prada, and Jose Torres - Despite the ongoing crisis, Uruguay is taking important steps to address preexisting macroeconomic conditions and lay the foundation for a more resilient, competitive, and stable economy.
For the second day running the Argentine Peso was virtually worthless in neighboring Uruguay foreign exchange houses. On Tuesday the Argentine Peso was worth zero, and on Wednesday there was a modest ten Uruguayan cents offered for the battered Argentine currency.
In Uruguay, the dollar traded at noon on the state bank Banco Republica (Brou) board at $ 33.20 for the purchase and $ 34.60 for the sale, 45 cents above the close price on Tuesday. On the board of private exchanges, the currency to the public came to sell at $ 34.80 and $ 34.90.
After several days up in Argentina, the devaluation of the Argentine peso and the rise of the US dollar have had some impact on the other side of the River Plate, where the exchange houses of downtown Montevideo marked on Wednesday the value of the currency up to 31,70 Uruguayan pesos per dollar, a rise of 2.08% compared to Monday —the highest in five years—. For the Uruguayan government, the country follows the global trend and calls for calm, beyond the noise generated in Argentina, which is beginning a dialogue between the Finance Minister, Nicolás Dujovne, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington.
Uruguay's central bank was forced to sell almost 65 million dollars on Tuesday, the highest volume so far this year, to keep the US dollar from ballooning as fears of the collapse of the Brazilian economy are felt through the region. The dollar finally ended trading with a slight 0.12% increase at 28,826 Pesos to the greenback.
Uruguay's inflation index experienced a slight deceleration during the twelve months to June, from 9.18% in May to 9.08%, basically because of cheaper fresh food, frozen public utility rates including fuel, while a stabilized exchange rate for the US dollar with a strong Peso, helped with imported goods.
Inflation and competitiveness are the two main macroeconomic challenges faced by Uruguay and does not anticipate an easy 'soft landing', at 3% growth rates in coming years, according to Deloitte during a conference on Prospects for 2014 and economic challenges for the next government.
Vice-president Danilo Astori confirmed that Uruguay will continue with its current flexible foreign exchange policy, because this has helped us reduce volatilities, but also admitted concern about inflation, the third highest in South America and fourth in Latin-American and the Caribbean.
Uruguay is too expensive in dollar terms and needs to adapt quickly because the adjustment will come anyway ‘and will be painful’ unless inflation is brought under control and costs equilibrium is reached with Brazil with a competitive dollar at 25 Pesos.
Uruguayan exports of goods in March continued falling thus closing a discouraging first quarter, according to Uruguay XXI, the country’s agency responsible for promoting trade and investment in the country.