Last updated in February 2018
Uruguay and Germany have traditionally enjoyed very good relations. Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck and Ms Daniela Schadt paid an official visit to Uruguay from 14 to 16 July 2016. The Federal President, who was accompanied by a large delegation, paid tribute to the 160 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the 100th anniversary of the German-Uruguayan Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Accompanied by six Ministers and 70 business representatives, Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez paid an official visit to Germany in February 2017, making stops in Berlin and Hamburg. The main aim of the visit was to intensify business relations. As part of a South American trip, the Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate and then President of the German Bundesrat, Malu Dreyer, visited Uruguay from 10 to 12 May 2017, accompanied by a business delegation. In addition, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Rainer Bomba, visited Montevideo from 19 to 20 March 2017.
There are currently some 10,000 Germans living in Uruguay, including citizens with dual nationality, along with some 40,000 ethnic Germans – an unusually large proportion of the overall population.
Since the second half of the 19th 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 immigrated to Uruguay after the Second World War.
Leading figures in Uruguayan society are well informed about German affairs. Germany is seen as an important member of the European Union and an actor with growing international influence.
Of Germany’s political foundations, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung have offices in Montevideo, from where they conduct mainly regional programmes. Other German foundations (the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation) support various projects without having their own local offices.
In 2016, Germany was Uruguay’s largest European trading partner in terms of imports and its second largest European trading partner in terms of exports after the Netherlands. Germany is thus one of Uruguay’s most important trading partners worldwide, after countries such as Brazil, China, the United States and Argentina. German imports of high-quality Uruguayan meat play a major role in bilateral trade. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, Germany imported goods worth 356 million euros from Uruguay in 2016, while Uruguay imported goods worth 340 million euros from Germany.
According to Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) figures, total German direct investment in Uruguay stood at 384 million euros in 2015.
There are currently some 40 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 Industry and Commerce in Montevideo was founded in 1916 and currently has approximately 300 members. It is affiliated to the regional chamber in Buenos Aires.
The following bilateral economic agreements are in place:
• the trade agreement of 18 April 1953 (most favoured nation)
• the framework agreement on technical cooperation of 31 March 1971
• the investment promotion agreement of 4 May 1987, which entered into force on 18 June 1990
• the 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)
• the 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 centres and cultural institutions. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Uruguay’s Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries are working closely together on agricultural research.
Thanks to its programme of events, the Goethe Institut 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 Deutsche Schule Montevideo was certified as an Excellent German School Abroad by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) 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 school abroad in Latin America, offering both the German higher education entrance qualification (Abitur) and the Uruguayan equivalent. The school currently has some 1600 pupils (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.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.