We are delighted to welcome a talented and experienced guest to our blog. Gabriela Pallares is a globally-minded Uruguayan architect with extensive knowledge of her national market. She runs her own studio and is also a successful businesswoman.

We have asked Gabriela about opportunities for British companies in Uruguay, in construction and beyond…

copyright: Gabriela Pallares / Estudio Torcello

As an architect, what opportunities do you see in Uruguay for British companies?

Some industries have great long-term opportunities in Uruguay, such as oil and gas (read our blog about BP in Uruguay here).

Another growing area is transportation, specially related to road freight, as a result of growing industries such as paper chip/mills/cellulose factories/plants as well as soybean crops. There is also talk of bringing back the trains!

Convention centres are an area I identify as a key need. Our tourism industry, which is absolutely key to our economy, cannot grow if there is a lack of infrastructure such as convention and congress centres. We need proper installations including acoustics, for example.

Also related to construction is the need for hotels. There are many chains expanding now here in Uruguay in many categories: from boutique hotels such as Splendor to premium hotels such as Hilton, Hyatt and Sofitel and we also have demand for cheaper options such as apart hotels.

Agricultural silos are another area of key growth; they are popping up everywhere along main routes!

At the higher end of the market, Gabriela emphasises the absence of a variety of products from international contemporary designers. The market in Uruguay is small, but there is a niche for luxury products and fittings, particularly in premium locations such as Punta del Este.

In your opinion, what are the main obstacles for British companies to do business in Uruguay? How can overseas businesses overcome these barriers?

Two main obstacles, in my opinion: bureaucracy and the fact that Uruguay is a small market.

The first step in overcoming these barriers is to have a clear understanding of the market before starting to operate here. Joint ventures with local companies will also share the risk and increase your knowledge. Uruguay is also a good test market and a platform for doing business in the rest of Mercosur and the region.

We think all of Gabriela’s observations are spot on. She also adds, from a personal and professional perspective, the likely expansion of overseas franchises and their consequent need for space and construction services/products. We would like to add the expansion in social housing, a direct consequence of both demand and fiscal incentives. Gabriela also mentions the need for investors. She is also keen to import some British expertise in running cities she even jokes about importing Boris Johnson. I’ll leave you to think about that one!

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