Why Uruguay? There are many reasons why Spanish companies should target this country. For being a logistics center with the southern cone; for its membership of Mercosur (expanding its market from 3.5 million potential consumers to 270 million); for its per capita income (15,541 euros), the highest in Latin America; for its regulations favoring foreign investment; for public investment in strategic sectors; for its economic and political stability… or simply because it offers business opportunities in construction, energy, audiovisual industry, engineering and infrastructure, environment, ICT and water treatment, depending on the sectors identified by ICEX.

when you grow up

When it comes to Infrastructure, Engineering, Renewable Energy, Automotive (Components), Construction or Water Treatment, you will find contracts to bid on in Uruguay.

The government of Uruguay allocated 10,760 million euros (66% from public funds) between 2015 and 2019 to improve infrastructure, energy and housing. The goal, according to President Tabaré Vázquez, “is to become a logistics hub in the region” while creating jobs and maintaining economic growth, whose GDP grew by 4% in the first quarter of 2015.

Interest in renewable energies is mainly focused on two: wind and heat (since 2014, hospitals, hotels and newly established sports clubs must have a solar panel cover to use hot water).

Another interesting project concerns water purification in Aguas Corrientes and Laguna del Sauce, in which Obras Sanitarias del Estado (OSE) will invest 63 million euros.

If you are an SME

Among these sectors you will find opportunities: agribusiness (processing of agricultural products), real estate (in the heat of new housing construction), sales of used equipment, publishing, pet business and value-added services (veterinary clinic), car wash (fleet size is 2,170,000 vehicles for a population of 3.5 million) or the refrigerated industry (slaughterhouses).

When it comes to entering the market, a good start can be made via the franchise system or via local partners who will pave the way for you. You choose.

A stirrup to ride across Latin America

Around 80 Spanish companies of all sizes are present in Uruguay and are active in insurance, banking, mobile telephony and infrastructure. The franchise has also created a small niche for itself among Spanish SMEs. Such is the case of Llaollao (frozen yogurt), which arrived in the country in 2014 via a master franchise to Grupo Soster and has opened two more stores.

For Pedro Espinosa, founder of Llaollao, it is a strategic market: “From Uruguay we intend to penetrate other neighboring markets such as Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and the south of Brazil, since they have a similar culture and gastronomy that makes them perfectly compatible make the philosophy of Llaollao”. Identical strategy to that of Grupo Damm (Food and Beverage), which was one of the first countries to choose Uruguay for its Latin American expansion, which began in 2008, where it now has a strong presence in hotels and restaurants.

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