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Latin America's rising star

Updated: 2013-02-04 07:54
( China Daily)

Latin America's rising star

Uruguay's Vice-President Danilo Astori greets Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting. Photo Provided to China Daily

Latin America's rising star

Uruguay and China prepare to celebrate 25 years of excellent bilateral relations

With a strategic location and a growing reputation as the gateway to Latin America and the massive Mercosur market of 500 million people, Uruguay is attracting record foreign direct investment (FDI) as investors race to take advantage of the country's excellent infrastructure and highly-skilled workforce.

Home to 3.5 million people, Uruguay has recorded average annual GDP growth of 5.3 percent since 2003, thanks to a political stability that has enabled its export-oriented economy to flourish.

Rich in natural resources, Uruguay's economy is focused on the production and export of beef, grains, dairy goods, wool and agricultural products.

President Jos Mujica Cordano and Vice-President Danilo Astori have positioned Uruguay as a safe and secure investment destination through modern reforms and public-private partnerships.

A key strategic partner is the People's Republic of China and in February 2013 the pair will celebrate the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations. China is Uruguay's second largest trade partner after Brazil and the leading foreign purchaser of products like wool, soybean and paper pulp. In 2011, Chinese-Uruguayan trade reached $3.4 billion, 20 times more than in 1988.

In June 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao traveled to Uruguay's capital Montevideo to meet leaders and strengthen ties. Hailing his visit as "milestone", Vice-President Astori said he wants China to participate in major infrastructure projects like a new deepwater port and railway system.

"Uruguay has huge potential and many investment opportunities. Transport, ICT, port services and energy are key sectors for investment partners. We respect international law and offer a range of investment incentives. China is our second largest trading partner and is a major investor, particularly in automotive manufacturing, so China's presence is very important and together we have achieved substantial growth."

A key player behind this successful international trade partnership is the Chamber of Commerce Uruguay-China which was formed in 1986 to strengthen and expand trade between the two countries across all sectors, industries and markets.

"There is fluid and permanent contact with China," said Chamber President, Eduardo Pietra. "Uruguay has the reputation of a serious country where laws are followed and contracts are honored. There is an open market where entry and exit of money and foreign currency is absolutely free and that makes it very attractive."

With the global financial crisis continuing to limit investment opportunities in the Eurozone and the US, Uruguay is taking its own advantage to expand its reach to other major international markets to remain competitive and make its presence felt on the world stage. In April 2012, Uruguay's credit rating was raised to investment grade status BBB- by Standard & Poor's.

The Central Bank of Uruguay has helped the government create a stable and transparent economy that is diversifying with the help of foreign investors tempted by the lucrative investment openings and pro-business environment.

"Uruguay is a wonderful platform for FDI because of its political institutions, rules and enforcement of contracts. It is also a great business platform from which to access Latin America and the world" stated Central Bank of Uruguay President Mario Bergara. "We offer stability and enjoy an excellent reputation for transparency."

Latin America's rising star

Latin America's rising star

(China Daily 02/04/2013 page5)