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Following two years of relatively stagnant growth, Uruguay’s economy looks to be back on track. Official projections estimate GDP growth of around 2.7% for 2017, which represents a significant rise on the 0.4% and 1.5% increases posted during 2015 and 2016 respectively. In addition, inflation seems to have stabilised and was recorded at 6.5% at the end of 2017 – the first time in seven years that it has been within the central bank’s target range.

Investor confidence should continue to strengthen through 2018 in parallel with the rising fortunes of the country’s more high-profile neighbours – and key trading partners – Argentina and Brazil.

Exports generate just under a quarter of Uruguay’s GDP and agribusiness continues to represent a significant proportion of that total, accounting for 78% of all goods exported during 2016. The government, which has been acclaimed for its sustained public spending on science and technology, has invested heavily in modernising the agro-industrial sector. Most notably, Uruguay’s early establishment of a computerised system to make all its beef exports electronically traceable has seen its beef industry flourish. Other key exports include rice, concentrated milk and soybeans.

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 firms in the chasing pack are considerably smaller and tend to utilise flatter structures than their larger competitors. However, the group comprises several 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 thereby included herein.)

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