Uruguay promoted opportunities for investment in forestry and wood chain

More than a hundred businessmen and specialists met at the II European Investment Forum in Uruguay.
Publication date: 14/10/2019

More than a hundred businessmen and specialists related to forestry, wood construction, bioforestry and bioenergy met at the II European Investment Forum in Uruguay, organized by Uruguay XXI and the European Union Delegation in Uruguay.

In order to make investment opportunities visible, share European best practices in the sector and promote joint initiatives, the II European Investment Forum in Uruguay was held, organized by Uruguay XXI and the European Union Delegation in Uruguay with a focus on the forestry - timber sector.

European, regional and Uruguayan authorities and referents from the forestry and wood, construction, forest bioeconomy and associated industries sectors participated in different panels that addressed the perspectives of the forest industry, aspects related to infrastructure and employment, innovative business trends in the forest and wood sector in Europe and the world, opportunities for wood construction in Uruguay and experiences related to bioforestry and bioenergy.

Among the authorities present were the Ministers of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Enzo Benech, Transport and Public Works, Victor Rossi, the Undersecretary of Housing, Land Management and Environment, Jorge Rucks, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, Olga Otegui, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Benjamin Liberoff, the Director of the Office of Planning and Budget, Alvaro Garcia, as well as the hosts of the event, the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation in Uruguay, Karl-Otto König and the Executive Director of Uruguay XXI, Antonio Carámbula.

"The wood forest is a leading sector in Uruguay, with high development potential and favorable policies. It is also characterized by a strong European investment. Together with UPM and Montes del Plata, additional European investments have arrived for technologies, chemicals and machinery, among others. It is very good news the confirmation of UPM 2 and I am glad that other companies are present in projects related to it," said the ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union in Uruguay, Karl-Otto König during the opening of the forum.

He also added that the European Union is the first investor in Uruguay, reaching approximately 35% of foreign investment. "Despite the delicate international situation, European investment in Uruguay has shown a growing trend. We have more than 400 European companies present. Last year, the European Union was Uruguay's second largest trading partner and is an important destination for Uruguayan products such as meat and soybeans, especially cellulose," he added.

Carámbula, highlighted the implementation of the roadmap for the timber sector, systematized in May 2019 within the framework of the National System of Productive Transformation and Competitiveness. "It means a very big step in the development of the forestry sector with a view to the 2050 strategy and the countries of the European Union are natural allies in this growth impulse for Uruguay. Today we have to move forward and continue developing a chain that is a source of work, innovation, renewable energy and development of the country, from Uruguay as a hub and towards the region," he said.

Carámbula also pointed out that attracting new investments in the entire wood-forest chain is one of the objectives of the focused work of Uruguay XXI.

One of the topics addressed by the forum were the main trends in the world regarding the promotion of wooden constructions. German expert Hubert Röder, professor at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University, referred to innovative strategies in his country.

"Sustainable materials should be the main focus of investment in the sector. The bioeconomy of wood construction offers innovative changes for the growth of the housing and the wood forest chain (bioeconomy, wood construction, innovation, chemical products, among others) is a great source of employment, especially in processing," he said. The expert also said that in Germany, the forestry sector is the largest employer wood surpassing industries such as automotive and machinery.

Meanwhile, Mariana Ferreira, manager of Competitive Intelligence of Uruguay XXI, explained that two of the main trends in the development of the sector are the chemical transformation, starting with the inauguration of the Botnia plant (today UPM) in 2007, which was later expanded with the inauguration of the Montes del Plata plant in 2013, and mechanical transformation, mainly with the sawmills of the Tacuarembó-Rivera and Paysandú axes.

"In Uruguay there are opportunities for the installation of industries that achieve greater added value to wood. The great offer of pine wood, coming from managed and certified plantations, is a great attraction for the installation of first and second mechanical transformation companies," he expanded.

To get to know the productive chain of the sector in Uruguay, on Friday, October 11, two delegations of businessmen made technical visits to the departments of Colonia and Tacuarembó, which included a tour of the Montes del Plata plant, the Frutifor and Lumin sawmills and INIA.

Uruguay's timber sector represents 2.4% of GDP, produces 23% of goods exports and directly employs 17,000 workers. Exports from the forestry sector in 2018 amounted to US$ 2.15 billion (US$ 1650 of cellulose and US$ 470 of wood, in addition to US$ 36 million of paper and cardboard).