Uruguay offers clear competitive advantages to the investor, including a privileged geographic location and a suitable and rapidly developing support infrastructure for passenger and merchandise transport by sea, air and land. The country is ranked second in infrastructure development in South America (The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009, World Economic Forum).
More importantly, Uruguay is the ideal location to distribute merchandise to the most affluent region of South America. Distances between Montevideo and major regional cities are as follows (in km):
|Distances between Montevideo and major regional cities|
|Río de Janeiro||2400|
|Santiago de Chile||1900|
- Highway transport
- River and maritime transport
- Air transport
- Potable water and sewage
- Energy supply and consumption
- Liquid fuels
- Natural gas
Uruguay's highway network is the most elaborate in Latin American and the Caribbean with 45 km of paved highway per 1,000 km2 of surface area. There are no restrictions on international cargo in transit. Uruguay connects to Argentina and Brazil and to the rest of the continent at several border crossings.
The country's main port of Montevideo receives shipping lines from around the world and accounts for most of Uruguay's exports, imports and merchandise in transit. Montevideo has the first and only terminal on South America's Atlantic coast operating under the free port system.
In a phase of full expansion, private and public terminals operate at the port of Montevideo, one of the region's most important distribution points.
Meanwhile, the port of Nueva Palmira on the Uruguay River heads up the largest river transport system in South America. Nueva Palmira is at a key point along the 3,443 kilometer long Paraguay-Paraná waterway that connects to the La Plata River and later to the Atlantic Ocean. The port of Nueva Palmira is a major regional merchandise transfer point and houses both private and government-run terminals.
Main airport facilities are located between Montevideo and Punta del Este, the area where most of the country's residents live and where much of its tourism infrastructure is located. Located 18 kilometers from downtown Montevideo, Carrasco International Airport will soon feature a brand new passenger terminal. Carrasco International serves as the country's principal passenger and cargo terminal. Intercontinental connections are performed by 12 international air transport companies for passenger and air cargo transit.
The Laguna del Sauce airport, located 15 kilometers from Punta del Este, has recently been remodeled and runways have been renovated through a private investment concession.
Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that has nearly universal access to safe drinking water and proper sewage infrastructure and boasts high quality of service levels. The government's priority is now to improve efficiency and to increase sewage services to areas that currently use on-site sewage (where appropriate).
Potable water and sewage services are supplied by the state-run OSE (Obras Sanitarias del Estado) company. Services are available with no restrictions throughout the country. 98% of the population has access to potable water. Based on the excellent level of potable water coverage, Uruguay has practically eliminated epidemic outbreaks and illnesses due to water transmission and is the only country in the Americas that had no cases of cholera in the pandemic that affected the entire continent between 1991 and 2000. 81% of the country's urban population has access to public sewage services.
Uruguay has a high dependence on imported energy, especially hydrocarbons (petroleum and derivatives), since it has no sources of fossil fuels.
By law, the state run ANCAP (Administración Nacional de Combustibles, Alcohol y Portland) company has a monopoly over the import and refinement of crude oil as well as the production, export and import of derivatives. Since Uruguay does not have fossil fuel reserves, all supplies in the country are imported. Imported crude oil is processed at the ANCAP refinery.
In 2008, 21% of petroleum products consumed in Uruguay were light fuels (gasoline and LPG). Medium (kerosene and diesel) and heavy fuels (fuel oil and asphalt) accounted for 57% and 22% of domestic demand, respectively.
|Petroleum derivate domestic demand (2009)|
The transport industry consumes the greatest share of petroleum derivatives, followed by the residential sector and manufacturing.
Natural gas supply chains in Uruguay consist of gas pipelines and distribution networks that operate at low pressure and are broad in territorial scope. Transport facilities supply gas to large consumers and distribution networks. Small and medium users, including homes, shops and factories, are supplied by distribution networks.
Electric power generation in Uruguay is carried out by state power company UTE (Administración Nacional de Usinas y Transmisiones Eléctricas) and by private industrial generators that produce power for in-house use or for sale to UTE. Electricity is produced principally by hydro-electric dams, and to a lesser extent by diesel and fuel oil powered electricity generation stations. Biomass and wind power have recently been employed in the country as well.
There is 2,227 MW of available power in the country (70% hydroelectric power and 30% thermal generation).
Uruguay also participates in an energy connection grid with other regional countries and imports electricity from Brazil through Argentine transmission networks when deemed appropriate.
98% of urban homes have access to electrical energy.
The national territory is well covered by telecommunications services. The most requested services are landlines, mobile services (prepaid and contract), internet (broadband) and cable television. With the exception of landline telephone services (supplied by the state-owned ANTEL company), other services are supplied by private and state-owned companies that compete freely. The highest growing services over the last few years have been mobile telephony and internet.
All telecommunications activities are regulated and controlled by URSEC (Unidad Reguladora en los Servicios en Comunicaciones), the communications industry regulatory body, whose objectives are the extension and universal adoption of access to services, promotion of competition, monitoring of existing monopolies, application of rates that reflect economic costs, stimulation of optimum investment levels and the protection of users' rights.
The following are some indicators that show the degree of advance of Uruguay's telecommunications sector:
• Digital telecommunications: 100%
• Highest landline telephone penetration in Latin America: 29 lines per 100 inhabitants.
• Highest mobile telephony penetration in Latin America: 98 lines per 100 residents.
• Population with internet access: 39%