Press release: Further liberalization could help sustain a
recent record of strong growth
1. This third Trade Policy Review of Uruguay has helped to paint a
clearer picture of the evolution of trade and investment policies in
Uruguay and of the country's integration and participation in the
multilateral trading system. Our sincere gratitude goes to Ambassador
AmorÝn, Ambassador Valles, Mr Sarachaga and the rest of the Uruguayan
delegation whose participation has been highly valuable to the work of
this Body. We would also like to thank the discussant, Ambassador
Matus, for his interesting and learned contribution to our
discussions, Mr Herreros, and the numerous Members that contributed to
the success of this review.
Members expressed their satisfaction with the sound economic growth
that Uruguay has experienced since 2003, following a serious economic
and financial crisis which it dealt with by adopting a macroeconomic
adjustment programme and measures to strengthen the financial system.
A number of participants observed that Uruguayan exports to markets
outside the region had been a key to reactivating the economy, and
spoke of the need to pursue the economic reforms in order to ensure
3. Members praised Uruguay for
its significant contribution to the construction and consolidation of
the multilateral trading system, including its active participation in
the Doha Development Agenda. They invited Uruguay to keep its
notifications to the WTO up to date, notably in areas such as SPS and
TBT. Emphasis was also placed on Uruguay's participation in MERCOSUR,
and several participants raised questions as to the benefits of such
participation. Uruguay replied that MERCOSUR was an essential
component of its growth strategy, and that it would be seeking to
deepen and expand that process. It was also essential to explore
individually the possibility of concluding bilateral agreements with a
4. Members recognized the
efforts made by Uruguay to modernize its trade regime, and welcomed
the initiatives taken to facilitate trade. Among many other measures,
Uruguay has adopted the WTO definition of customs value, has
simplified its customs procedures, and has reduced its applied
tariffs. Members commended Uruguay for resorting so rarely to trade
defence measures. It was also pointed out that while Uruguay had bound
its entire tariff universe, it could increase the predictability of
its trade regime by narrowing the gap between bound and applied
5. At the same time, Members
expressed concern at certain measures that had been adopted in recent
years, in particular the use of other charges on trade, and welcomed
the announcement that such charges would be eliminated as of July
2007. Certain customs procedures were also questioned, as was the
distinction made between imports and domestic products in applying
certain internal taxes (VAT and the Specific Internal Tax - IMESI).
With respect to the numerous questions regarding its tax regime,
Uruguay replied that the regime was currently being revised, and it
was thinking of eliminating exemptions and distortionary taxes.
Members welcomed Uruguay's efforts to improve the protection of
intellectual property rights as well as the ongoing process to adopt a
new law on the defence of competition.
6. Stressing the importance of
the services sector to the development of the Uruguayan economy and
the liberalization which had taken place in that sector over the past
few years, Members invited Uruguay to assume new commitments under the
GATS that would include sectors in which it had thus far assumed few
or no commitments, such as telecommunications and maritime transport.
Uruguay responded that it was considering binding commitments in new
areas, such as professional and distribution services.
7. In conclusion, I think that
this Body sees the general direction of Uruguay's trade policy in a
very positive light. Uruguay's commitment to the principles of
multilateralism has helped to turn international trade into a catalyst
for its economic growth. In order to stimulate and consolidate this
growth, Members urged Uruguay to continue to liberalize its economy
and diversify its trade relations, and to review a few individual
aspects of its trade regime. I am certain that Uruguay will maintain
its traditional commitment to the work of this Organization and that
it will continue to play a positive role in the Doha Development
Agenda, which could be of particular benefit to Uruguay if successful.
I would like to close this meeting by once again thanking the
Uruguayan delegation, the discussant, and the Members present for
their constructive participation in this review.