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Uruguay - Selling and buying

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Reaching the consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer behavior: Although the consumer's profile has change during the past decade (younger, more demanding, more differentiated), the Uruguayan remains conservative while making important buying decisions, such as purchasing utility goods, furniture, cars or household appliances.

The consumer's principal criteria are safety, efficiency and discretion. Nevertheless, he doesn't hesitate to take risks when it comes to food, hygiene products or cleaning products.

Consumer profile: The urban population is quite different from the rural population because of the income gap. Urban people have a rather western consumer's behavior, while the rural people are less demanding and are more interested in traditional products.

High, medium high and medium class households invest most of their money in furniture acquisition, accessories, leisure time and education. Lower class households focus more on satisfaction of their basic needs, food products mostly.

Touristic centers have the specificity of having a luxurious consumption. The average consumer is characterized by its conservative behavior.

Main advertising agencies:

Distribution network

Evolution of the sector: The main commercial area of the country is located in Montevideo and its suburb. Big malls are recent and can all be found in Montevideo: "3 Cruces Shopping", "Punta Carretas Shopping", "Montevideo Shopping", "Portones Shopping". Other important commercial areas are: Punta del Este, Paysandu, Salto and Colonia.

Traditional distribution networks are small shops, rather family businesses spread out all around the country. The image of a wholesaler is unlikely and the big distribution is dominated  by importers-distributors delivering big retail chains and smaller retailers. The market of big distribution is composed by this 3 players: Disco, Devoto et Tienda Inglesa. There is only one superstore, Géant Casino, owned by the French same called group.

Industrial semi finished or finished goods is operated by distributor agents (no specialized distribution chain)

Franchising starts being used in Uruguay.

Types of outlet: Estimations show that between big stores and superstores, there are 128 selling points (33.7% of invoicing), 846 small retail stores (31.5%) and 9151 traditional shops (34.9% of invoicing).

Multinationals own 75% of big retail chains. The Dico-Devoto is the largest since they own the "Disco" supermarkets (27 stores), "Devoto" (25 stores) and the superstore "Geant".

In terms of importance, these three are followed by the group "Henderson & Cia" with the "Tienda Inglesa" chain (9 stores), the "Multiahorro" chain (30 medium retail stores), "Ta-Ta" (20 small and medium stores), "El Dorado" chain from the "Polakof & Cia" mainly located in the countryside (40 stores, supermarkets and small retail stores)

Market access procedures

Economic Cooperation: Uruguay is member of the Latin American Integration Association. It also belongs to the Mercosur, and has signed a free trade agreement with Mexico. The country have signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).
Non tariff barriers: Uruguay has a liberal import policy. There is no quota system. License is required for the import of products such as medical equipment, chemicals, cattle, sugar, cereals, meat and flour. All importers should nevertheless be registered with the Central Bank and declare all their imports by filling an import declaration. Recording Certificates are valid for 180 days. A deadline for customs clearance of the goods is fixed.
Average Customs Duty (excluding agricultural products): Uruguay applies the Harmonized Customs System (SH)
Customs classification: Uruguay applies the harmonized Customs System, based on the World Customs Organization's system. Customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods. However, Uruguay applies some minimum price for textile and clothing imports. Importers have to pay the difference between the amount of the invoice and the minimum price. The custom duties are payable on that minimal price. Uruguay is not part of the WTO.

Uruguay is a member of the MERCOSUR (Mercado Comun del Sur, gathering Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay and Uruguay), aimed at creating a free trade zone, a common external tariff and a free circulation zone for goods, services, capitals and persons. Customs duties between member countries were theoretically abolished in 1994, with nevertheless a lot of exceptions, according to the "adaptation regime" (Regimen de adecuacion).

The common external tariff (CET) does ot concern all products, currently: only 75% of the tariff lines benefit from a single tariff. The goods still outside the system, for the 4 countries are: equipment goods, IT, telecommunications, cars and sugar sectors.

Import procedures: The AEC applies ad valorem on the CIF value of imported goods. This custom policy should be approached cautiously, since countries apply more or less the central directives according to their economic situation. It also important to mention that re-exporting within a member country doesn't lead to custom duty exemption: For instance, if you export a product to Uruguay, and sell it to Brazil, you would have to pay Uruguayan customs, and later on Brazilian customs. To avoid such a situation, it is highly recommended to use free zones
Customs website: National Customs Office

Organizing goods transport

Organizing goods transport to and from: The main mode of transport for goods is by sea. Road shipping and railway are also used, but to a lesser extent. Air shipping is mainly used for lighter goods.
Sea transport organizations:
Rail transport organizations:

Domestic business directories

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