A modern model of free trade zones

The Latin American country is betting on the development of free trade zones in order to strengthen the arrival of investments. Currently, Uruguay has 11 of these business centers, which complement a regime of investment promotion and free port and airport.
Publication date: 09/11/2018

Uruguay has well understood that free trade zones play an important role in attracting investment, generating qualified employment and diversifying the country's exports. This is why in the last decade it has made efforts to develop them and thus strengthen its commercial exchanges.

Indeed, Uruguayan exports of goods have shown great dynamism, tripling in the last decade. Markets have diversified and free trade zones have acquired relevance as intermediate destinations. Their importance lies in the characteristics that make them ideal places for the formation of industrial complexes, the installation of manufacturing industries based on foreign or domestic raw materials, or the use as a logistics center or operations to provide various services to the world.

In 2017, 29% of Uruguay's total exports of goods were sent abroad from one of the free zones. Meanwhile, the large investments that have been made in them, favored by the current regulatory framework, have been the engine of their development.

Nowadays, there are eleven free trade zones in Uruguay, one in Nueva Palmira, Fray Bentos (UPM), Libertad, Punta Pereira (Montes del Plata), Colonia, Colonia Suiza, Floridasur, Zonamerica, WTC Free Zone, Parque de las Ciencias and Aguada Park.

A total of 1,500 companies operate there and approximately 45% carry out trade-related activities, followed by those developed in the professional services sector.

These spaces promoted by the Law of Free Zones, one of the regimes most used by investors, are part of a set of policies whose main objective is to encourage investment in Uruguay, among which are also the Law of Promotion and Protection of Investments, the regimes of Free Port and Free Airport, the Law of Public-Private Participation (PPP) and the Law of Industrial Parks, among others.

Free zone users are exempt from any national tax, created or to be created. In particular, they are exempt from Income Tax, Value Added Tax, Net Worth Tax and Excise Tax and Corporation Control Tax.

The entry and exit of goods to the free trade zone is exempt from all taxes and the State is the guarantor of these exemptions.

In 2017 some modifications were approved to the Law of Free Zones that modernize the regime and bring it closer to international standards, in addition to enabling the creation of more poles of activities in the interior of the country.

Learn more about the free trade zones regime in Uruguay in the Investor's Guide.

Want to know more about Investing in Uruguay?