Last updated in March 2016
Germany and Uruguay have traditionally enjoyed very good relations.
There are currently some 10,000 Germans living in Uruguay, including citizens with dual nationality, along with another 40,000-odd ethnic Germans – an unusually large proportion of the overall population.
Since the second half of the nineteenth century, German immigrants have made an important contribution to the country’s development. Uruguay offered asylum to German-speaking Jews from 1935 onwards. German Mennonite communities emigrated to Uruguay after the Second World War.
Leading figures in Uruguayan society are well informed about German affairs. Germany is also seen as an important member of the European Union.
Of Germany’s political foundations, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation have offices in Montevideo, from where they conduct mainly regional programmes. Other German foundations (the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and, since 2000, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation) support various projects without having their own local offices.
According to Uruguayan figures, in 2015 Germany was the third-largest European importer of Uruguayan goods and thus one of the major buyers of the country’s exports, though well behind Brazil and China. According to Uruguay’s business promotion agency CORFO, in 2015 Germany imported from Uruguay goods worth EUR 266 million. During the same period, Uruguay’s imports from Germany stood at EUR 492 million. (Because of differences in data capture criteria – problems connected with German imports via ports in other EU countries – the figures for 2015 are expected to differ from those of the Federal Statistical Office.)
According to Germany Trade & Invest figures, total German direct investment in Uruguay stood at EUR 363 million in 2013.
There are currently some 60 German companies operating in Uruguay, mainly in the industrial sector, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and the transport and logistics sector. German companies generally serve the Uruguayan market through local representatives/partners or through sales offices in third countries, either from their production facilities in Brazil and Argentina or from outside MERCOSUR. German companies, as well as German technology and funding, also feature prominently in the renewable energy sector.
The German-Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce in Montevideo was founded in 1916 and currently has over 400 members, more than 50 of them domiciled abroad, some in Germany; it is affiliated to the regional chamber in Buenos Aires.
The following bilateral economic agreements are in place:
- trade agreement of 18 April 1953 (most-favoured nation)
- framework agreement on Technical Cooperation of 31 March 1971
- investment promotion agreement of 4 May 1987, which entered into force on 18 June 1990
- double taxation agreement of 9 March 2010, which entered into force on 28 December 2011 (applied as of 1 January 2012 in accordance with Article 31, paragraph 2)
- social security agreement of 8 April 2013, which entered into force on 1 January 2015
Culture and education
There is close cultural and academic exchange between Germany and Uruguay.
There is a long tradition of cooperation between universities, research and cultural institutions in the two countries. A German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lecturer has been teaching at the Universidad de la República’s (UdelaR) Faculty of Humanities and Education Science since 2013.
Thanks to its high-profile programme of events, the Goethe Institute in Montevideo, now in its 50th year, is an established and recognised feature of the Uruguayan capital’s cultural scene. Its German courses are very well attended and demand is constantly growing.
In 2013, the German School Montevideo was awarded the Excellent German School Abroad quality seal by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany. Founded in 1857, it is the oldest German binational school in Latin America, offering both the German university entrance examination (Abitur) and the Uruguayan equivalent. The school currently has some 1,500 students (including kindergarten children). German is currently taught as an optional subject at two state schools in Uruguay under the Federal Foreign Office’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH).
Cultural relations between Germany and Uruguay were institutionalised by a cultural agreement that has been in force since 8 May 1989. Cultural exchange is given substance by music and artistic events, measures to promote the German language (Netzwerk Deutsch) and by traditional events organised by the country’s German associations. Sports promotion is also an important element of bilateral exchange.