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Editorial

Since 2003, Uruguay has been able to benefit from its status as one of the most politically stable countries in Latin America to maintain an enviably prolonged period of economic expansion – even managing to avoid recession during the 2008 global financial crisis. Although recent regional turmoil may have dampened the country’s traditionally robust growth, it has not stalled it completely: GDP grew by 1.5% in 2016, with the fourth quarter showing particular momentum following a 3.4% hike year-on-year.

Significantly, the country’s middle class is the largest in Latin America – representing 60% of its population – and an improvement in real wages due to a slowdown in inflation has seen spending power grow and domestic consumption rise, providing a boost to the economy.

In addition, in 2016 the government announced that Uruguay would receive the biggest investment in its history, following Finland-based UPM’s decision to invest $5bn in the country. The recent announcement that UPM has decided to press ahead with the construction of its second pulp mill in Uruguay, which will require substantial associated infrastructure investment, should provide a further injection of confidence into the market.

Although compact, Uruguay’s legal market is extremely mature and sophisticated. However, two firms consistently overshadow their smaller peers: full-service powerhouses Ferrere and Guyer & Regules have the extensive resources, and the domestic and international relationships, to dominate in all the main areas of business law.

The chasing pack comprises a distinguished group of reputable small-to-medium sized firms with a multi-practice offering, namely Posadas, Posadas & Vecino, Hughes & Hughes, Jiménez de Aréchaga, Viana + Brause, Olivera Abogados and Bergstein.

Clients also benefit from a select band of very competent boutiques, particularly in the IP space where Fernández Secco & Asociados, Fischer Abogados and Fox & Lapenne are key names.

(Note: Unlike accountants, Uruguayan public notaries (escribanos) have the same educational requirements as lawyers. For the purposes of this chapter, such notaries are included herein.)

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