He Exodus from Uruguayans to Argentina It was one of the events that marked 2023 and, above all, the economy of Uruguay given the diversion of consumption, the drop in revenue and the impact on employment, mostly in the coastal departments. In that sense, trips to the neighboring country doubled last year and the spent grew by 89%.
More than 1,000 million dollars were spent by Uruguayans on Argentina during 2023. Of the exact total amount of 1,248.3 million, a large part was consumption diversion; That is, money that, in a context of normal exchange rate difference, would have been spent in the national territory. However, the important price gap which was a trend during the year, deepened by the increase in Dolar blue in the neighboring country, it led to queues on international bridges during the weekends being commonplace; since purchases were no longer in Uruguay, but on the other side of the Silver river.
The data arises from surveys of the Ministry of Tourism regarding movements into and out of the country during 2023. In total, there were 3,883,667 trips made to Argentina. A figure that is even higher than the population preliminarily censused by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) same year; and that is more than double the number of trips made in 2022 —and 80% of trips abroad. In turn, the increase in spending grew by 89%.
The exchange rate difference and the price gap explain a large part of this increase: according to reports from the Border Price Indicator (IPF) of the Salto Economic Observatory of the Catholic University of Uruguay (UCU), the average differential between the values on one side of the border and the other was 152%. For Uruguayans, throughout the year it was significantly cheaper to acquire goods and services in Argentina than in the national territory itself, especially in areas such as cleaning and hygiene and fuel.
With a new devaluation in Argentina’s sights, what can happen in Uruguay?
Between analysts and specialists on the other side of the Silver riverthere has been talk for some time about an inevitable devaluation, after the first carried out on December 13 – which took the official dollar from 366 to 800 Argentine pesos overnight – was absorbed by the significant increase in prices and the consequent inflation that removed competitiveness To the exchange rate.
Now, the blue dollar uptrend It finds an explanation, among other factors, in market expectations for this new devaluation that, according to surveys, could occur between March and April.
In Uruguay, What happens on the other side of the border at an economic and exchange level is not minor. Although the summer season—along with the devaluation of the Argentine peso, a few weeks of stability in the Dolar blue and the sharp increase in prices that discouraged crossings—is not the scene of the Exodus which had become common, as Uruguayans chose destinations such as Brazil or the Caribbean to vacation due to the improvement in purchasing power; Doubt grows about what could happen in March, when the time comes to return to routine, classes begin—and the purchases and expenses associated with them—and the season approaches. Tourism Week.
Given the perspective of a new devaluation in Argentina for those dates and, meanwhile, the persistence in the escalation of the parallel exchange rate—in addition to a hypothetical rise to levels similar to that of the official dollar if the government devalues—generates concern that the exchange difference increase again.
In any case, we will also have to consider the impact that the eventual devaluation of the Argentine peso would have on prices: just look at what happened in December, when the inflation It meant that, despite the gap in the exchange rate, the Argentine market was not so attractive for the Uruguayan wallet, especially with regard to fuel.
In that sense, and as they advanced to Ambit from the Salto Economic Observatorythe price gap was considerably reduced between the exchange rate adjustment and the inflationary jump in Argentina. The official results of the survey will be known in the first days of February.
Therefore, it is possible to expect that the impact of a greater increase in the blue dollar will not be as strong as it was last year since, without a government that contains the transfer of the devaluation to prices, inflation will compensate for the rise. of the parallel exchange rate in its influence on the exchange difference between both countries.