The export of electrical energy and cellulose also registered strong increases, due to an improvement in international prices. Wood, meat by-products, soybeans and beverage concentrates completed the positive impact, according to the Uruguay XXI foreign trade report.
In 2021, Uruguay registered the highest historical level of export of goods, with a growth of 43% compared to the previous year and sales of 11,549 million dollars.
It is the highest value since Uruguay XXI released this information and implies a strong rebound compared to the 2020 record, which was greatly affected by the health crisis.
Likewise, exports grew 26% compared to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. Bovine meat was the product with the highest incidence, both due to better prices and higher export volumes. Higher export prices for sales of electrical energy and cellulose, as well as wood, meat by-products, soybeans and beverage concentrates also had a positive impact.
China was again Uruguay's main trading partner in 2021, with 28% of exports of goods and 3,277 million dollars. In second place was Brazil (16%), followed by the European Union (14%), Argentina (5%), the United States (5%), and Egypt (4%).
In sales of beef to China, sustained growth took place in the last decade, with a year-on-year growth of 96% for 1,489 million dollars. The European Union was the second most important destination with purchases of 298 million, a figure 19% higher compared to 2020.
Pulp was the second export product. Pulp exports grew 43%, reaching 1,575 million dollars in 2021. This rise is explained almost exclusively by better export prices, which recovered after reaching reduced levels in 2020. The average export price of pulp reached $ 562 per tonne in 2021, 39% more than the 2020 average, the report details.
For 2022, Uruguay XXI foresees a more moderate performance of exports, with no post-pandemic rebound effect but with some favorable conditions. According to estimates, exports of goods would grow in the order of 5% in 2022, above 12,000 million dollars.
Regarding trade agreements, the report recalls that in 2021 the Uruguayan Government announced the beginning of a feasibility study in conjunction with China to evaluate a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with that country. In addition, negotiations for an FTA between Uruguay and Turkey will begin in March 2022, he adds. ■