Uruguay’s business and technology park free trade zone, Zonamerica, is open to new investment by Georgia companies seeking a safe, export-oriented base in South America for their technology, logistics or back office business, said Orlando Dovat, the park’s president and CEO.
Mr. Dovat traveled to Atlanta with Uruguay National Chamber of Commerce and Services past President Ambrosio Bertolotti, Uruguayan Minister of Industry Jorge Lepra, U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Frank Baxter and a group of Uruguayan technology company representatives for the inaugural Americas Competitiveness Forum June 11-12.
“Zonamerica is dedicated to bringing in companies that outsource and are looking to localize their activities such as call centers, administrative functions and software development,” Mr. Dovat told GlobalAtlanta during the forum.
He said he came to the conference in Atlanta to meet companies that can “add to Zonamericas’ innovation, competitive ideas and talented people.”
Some 40 of the 200 companies located in the 230-acre free trade zone are banking institutions, accounting firms and other back offices operations, but most of them are in the software industry, he said. Software exported from Zonamerica represents 80 percent of Uruguay’s total software exports.
With 700 software programmers in a country of only 3 million people, Uruguay exports more software than Brazil, Mr. Dovat added.
“We are oriented to the development of services for the world, not for Uruguay, because it is a small country. We can’t rely on our domestic market, so we are always looking for international investment and creating opportunities for foreign investors,” he said.
Located about six miles from the Uruguayan capital city of Montevideo’s international airport and 10 miles from its seaport, Zonamerica is a good location for distribution centers in the region, according to Mr. Dovat.
Uruguay’s geographic location between Brazil and Argentina on the Atlantic Ocean makes it a natural point of entry for goods into and out of South America, he added. As such, part of the Zonamerica’s infrastructure is designed for warehousing and industrial facilities.
The park is also specially equipped for data and call centers, with intelligent buildings, redundant fiber optics connections, Internet access, long distance services, satellite communications and a disaster recovery center.
Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies can use the park’s Biotec Plaza, which has warehousing and storage space, a shared molecular biology laboratory, equipment purchasing services and lab design and consulting.
Companies in the park share its inventory control system, physical and documentary verification services for arriving and departing goods, an inventory maintenance system, merchandise recount and destruction services, insurance brokers, banking, security, cleaning and maintenance services.
“Zonamerica invites investors from North America. We have a tendency for outsourcing, like China or India, but companies will find advantages in Uruguay,” Mr. Dovat said, referring to Uruguay’s location within two to five hours of U.S. time zones.
He added that Uruguay’s workforce is highly educated, the country has a low level of corruption and high political and economic stability, civil freedoms and transparency.
“We are a small country, but we are committed to educating our people in innovation, science and technology,” said Uruguayan Minister of Industry Jorge Lepra during the Americas Competitiveness Forum.
Mr. Lepra told GlobalAtlanta that the country is also looking to the United States to share knowledge about biofuels. Prior to coming to Atlanta, he and a delegation of Uruguayan companies visited Texas A&M University, University of North Carolina and University of Minnesota to exchange research about the production of ethanol from sugarcane.
Uruguay is a member of the Mercosur free trade bloc, which also includes Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and it participates in various bilateral trade agreements.
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