Uruguay needs to encourage greater private investment, the country's minister of economy and finance said here Friday during a meeting with Argentine businesspeople.
Public investment is outpacing private investment, resulting in higher unemployment, Danilo Astori said as he outlined the Uruguayan government's approach to attracting private capital.
Over the past year, he said, Uruguay has introduced tax breaks for business investment and for small and mid-sized firms, as well a as a program for farmers to acquire new and improved machinery.
Astori gave special emphasis to measures by tax authorities to help businesses comply with the laws and regulations, asserting that efforts to aid taxpayers to remain compliant are as valuable as pursuing tax evasion.
Accompanied by the Uruguayan ambassador to Argentina, Hector Lescano, and Argentine-Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce president Juan Carlos Lopez Mena, the minister noted that his country's economy has for 15 consecutive years.
The growth is a consequence of Uruguay's opening to foreign markets and the consequent increase in exports, he said.
Uruguay exports to roughly 140 countries, including Japan, where consumers are willing to pay a premium for high-quality products, Astori said.
The focus of public investment for the next years will be on transportation and education, he said.
Uruguay is currently building a 273km (170mi) railway that will connect Montevideo with the north of the country, an $825 million project Astori described as the largest in his country's history.
Most of the funding comes from Finnish forest industry company UPM, which plans to open a second pulp plant in Uruguay.
The construction of the railway "will employ more than 1,000 people and will allow the transport of 4.5 million tons (of freight) per year," the minister said.