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Economy, Currency, Banking, and Trade

centesimos, peso uruguayo, synthetic plastics, financial agent, important exports

The legal currency of Uruguay is the peso uruguayo, consisting of 100 centesimos (12.10 pesos uruguayos equal U.S.$1; 2000 average). In 1993 the peso uruguayo replaced Uruguay’s former currency, the nuevo peso, at the rate of 1 peso uruguayo per 1,000 nuevo pesos. Uruguay has a well-developed banking system, with many private banks. The Bank of the Republic (1896) is a state bank and the financial agent of the government. The Central Bank of Uruguay (1967) is the sole bank of issue and controls private banking.

Foreign trade plays an important role in the economy of Uruguay. In 2000 exports were valued at $2.3 billion and imports at $3.5 billion. The leading purchasers of the country’s exports are Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Germany, and Italy; chief sources for imports are Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. Textiles and textile products, meats, fish, rice, and hides are the most important exports. Tourism, especially from Argentina, is an increasingly important source of foreign currency. Uruguay imports raw materials for manufacturing, fuel and lubricants, food products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, construction materials, synthetic plastics and resins, machinery and parts, and motor vehicles. Uruguay is a founding member of the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) and of the Southern Cone Common Market (known by its Spanish acronym MERCOSUR). The LAIA, which encompasses all of the countries in South America except Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana, works toward increasing trade and regional integration. The MERCOSUR group, which also includes Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay and is headquartered in Montevideo, works toward establishing duty-free trade between members.

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