Australia–Uruguay relations

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Australian–Uruguayan relations
Map indicating locations of Uruguay and Australia



Australia–Uruguay relations are foreign relations between Australia and Uruguay. Australia is represented in Uruguay through its embassy in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and an honorary consulate in Montevideo.[1] Uruguay has an embassy in Canberra[2] a consulate general in Sydney and honorary consulates in all State capitals. [3]

Australia and Uruguay share an interest in the Southern Ocean and the fisheries therein. Both countries are full members of the Cairns Group and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. A number of incidents have taken place in Antarctic waters involving Uruguayan-flagged sailing boats and Australian officers.


The first Uruguayan Consul came to Australia in 1954.[4] Since 1996, Diego L. Payssé is Australia's Honorary Consul in Montevideo.[5]

Both countries are agricultural exporters, and advocate for the reduction and reform of farm subsidies.[6] In 1970, Uruguay joined the International Wool Secretariat, composed of founding members Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.[7]

An extradition treaty was signed in 1998.[8]

In the lead up to the 2005 selection of director-general of the World Trade Organization, Australia declined to endorse the Uruguayan candidate Carlos Perez del Castillo over Pascal Lamy, despite the countries being agricultural export allies.[9] The two countries' foreign ministers met in New York City during a 2008 United Nations General Assembly meeting and discussed ways to increase links between Australia and Uruguay.[10]

Illegal fishing incidents[edit]

In August 2003, the Australian government boarded a suspected illegal fishing vessel, the Viarsa I, in Antarctic waters. The vessel was boarded by personnel from the Australian customs and fisheries patrol boat Southern Supporter, backed by armed South African enforcement officers.[11] A Uruguayan was detained and taken into custody of the Australian government.[12] The detainment of the official caused a rift between Australia and Uruguay, who demanded the official's immediate release.[12] Australian Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald claimed that the official along with the rest of the crew be charged under Australian law.[13] Uruguay then ordered the fishing vessel home to face local law, causing a strain on the relations between the two countries who each thought the ship should be prosecuted under their own jurisdictions.[14] Still, the two countries stated they were cooperating to resolve their difficulties.[15]

Four months after the initial incident, HMAS Warramunga intercepted the Uruguayan-flagged Maya V in the Southern Ocean about 4,000 kilometres (2,200 nmi) south west of Perth.[16] Prime Minister John Howard boarded and thanked the crew for their work fighting illegal fishing saying, "Australians feel very strongly that people who want to illegally fish in our waters, who want to pillage our assets, should be repelled and, where appropriate, apprehended."[17] Two top officials representing Uruguay and Australia met to discuss issues involving the Maya V incident. Uruguayan Ambassador to Australia Pedro Mo Amaro said in a statement on the news, "We agree with all the measures Australian authorities have taken but not with these measures against the crew", he went on to say "We think the crew is innocent – they have not committed any offences."[18] The crew involved later were charged varying fines and released back to Uruguay.


Monthly value of Uruguayan merchandise exports to Australia (A$ millions) since 1988.[19]
Monthly value of Australian merchandise exports to Uruguay (A$ millions) since 1988.[20]

Economic relations include monetary aid between the two nations.[21] In 2015, total bilateral trade was A$29.6 million and Uruguay ranked 109th as a trading partner of Australia. [22]

In the late 1990s, the major exports from Uruguay to Australia were leather, furskins, pearls and gems, and leather goods. In that period Australia primarily exported wool, iron, steel, and beef to Uruguay.[8] In 2010 Uruguay investigated the possibility of importing Merino semen and embryos to reinvigorate their sheep industry after substantial declines.[23]

Australian investment in Uruguay centres on mining, agriculture, and entertainment, and benefits from the lack of obstacle to repatriation of profits.[8]

Although eucalypts are native to Australia, they form the basis for 80% of the Uruguayan forestry industry.[8]


As of 2012 Australia and Uruguay co-host a series of workshops on the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations.[24][dead link]

Cultural and immigration[edit]

Uruguayan Australians are an ethnic minority in Australia with populations in larger Australian cities, primarily Sydney (especially Fairfield) and Melbourne.[25] The first migrants from Uruguay came to Australia during the 1960s during a time of political and economical hardship, with growing numbers in the 70s due to military dictatorship [26] with the migration peak in 1974.[27] By 1981 the Uruguayan population in Australia reached almost 9300, then after the restoration of democracy in Uruguay it rose slowly to 9715 in 1996.[28] In 1981 80% lived in New South Wales, and 17% in Victoria.[28]

In 2002 the Uruguayan consul-general promoted soccer in Australia, saying "the only thing [Uruguayan and Latin American people] miss is that this is not a soccer country".[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Australian Honorary Consulate in Montevideo
  2. ^ Embassy of Uruguay in Canberra
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Consul From Uruguay Gets Cold Welcome.". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 20 July 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Australian Honorary Counsel, Montevideo, Argentina". Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. 1996-10-09. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  6. ^ "Australia, Uruguay Say EU Farm Aid Reform 'Woefully Short'". Bloomberg. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Roche, Julian (1995). The international wool trade. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Pub. Ltd. p. 176. ISBN 1855731916. 
  8. ^ a b c d Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (1999). "8. Uruguay". Inquiry into Australia's Trade and Investment Relationship with South America (PDF). Parliament of Australia. pp. 144–145. 
  9. ^ Murphy, Katharine (5 Jan 2005). "Canberra may defy ally over WTO job". The Australian. p. 2. 
  10. ^ "Uruguay and Australia Seek Increased Relations". UDN. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  11. ^ "Poachers pursued over 7,000 kilometers". Australian Antarctic Division. Autumn 2004. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  12. ^ a b "Australia holding Uruguayan official in illegal Antarctic fishing case". USA Today. 2003-09-08. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  13. ^ "Uruguay 'poaching ship' ordered home". British Broadcasting Company (BBC). 2003-08-23. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  14. ^ Porteous, Clinton. "Renegade fishing boat to dock in Uruguay". Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  15. ^ "Poachers pursued over 7,000 kilometers". Australian Antarctic Division. Autumn 2004. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  16. ^ "Australian authorities continue crackdown on illegal fishing". Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  17. ^ "Howard learns of the danger in hunting poachers". Melbourne: The Age. 2004-02-05. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  18. ^ "Maya V Crew Out Of Jail". MercoPress. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  19. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, International Merchandise Imports, Australia, 'Table 2. Country and Country Groups, Customs Value', time series spreadsheet, cat. no. 5439.0, viewed 19 December 2012
  20. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, 'Table 14a. Merchandise Exports, Country and Country Groups, FOB Value', time series spreadsheet, cat. no. 5368.0, viewed 9 January 2013
  21. ^ "Uruguay Country Brief". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia. February 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ McNaughton, Rowena (1 February 2010). "Merino semen for Uruguay". Stock and Land. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  24. ^ ACMC Communications (27 February 2012). "Australia and Uruguay host workshop on the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations". Australian Government – Australian Civil-Military Centre. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  25. ^ Burnley, Ian H. (2001). The impact of immigration on Australia : a demographic approach. South Melbourne, Victoria [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. p. 215. ISBN 0195508351. 
  26. ^ "History of immigration from Uruguay". Museum Victoria Australia. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  27. ^ Petruccelli, José Luis (1978). The Migration Movement from Uruguay to Australia. Centro de Informaciones y Estudios del Uruguay. p. 9. 
  28. ^ a b James Jupp, ed. (2001). The Australian people : an encyclopedia of the nation, its people and their origins (2 ed.). Cambridge [U.K.]: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 719. ISBN 0521807891. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  29. ^ "Uruguay consul's passionate plea". Illawarra Mercury. 5 November 2002. p. 79. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 

External links[edit]