Uruguay beef exports in 2016 increased from 387,000 tons in 2015 to 440,000 tons. According to Meat Institute (INAC) President Federico Stanham, it is the largest volume produced in a decade (La Republica, 21 December 2016). INAC projected prices will close 2016 with an average price close to $3,400; a 10 percent decrease from 2015. The decrease in price is due to fifteen years of fluctuating prices. China is the primary destination for beef exports. The European Union only accounts for 12 percent of total beef volume exports (second largest market). The third largest market is NAFTA (Mexico, USA and Canada) with 23 percent (El Pais, 21 December 2016).
El País reported on 1 December 2016, that from January to October 2016, Uruguayans' purchasing power increased by 1.07 percent. The Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) reported that the Average Wage Index rose by 0.3 percent in October 2016, which added to the 9.74 percent increase in the index over first ten months of 2016 (El País). However, the purchasing power of Uruguayans abroad decreased by 6 percent from January to November 2016, reaching lower levels that in 2015 (El Observador, 24 November 2016).
Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez informed on 4 December 2016 that he will meet with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro following Venezuela's suspension from the Mercosur trade bloc on 2 December. Maduro requested a face-to-face meeting with Vázquez during a national television and radio address on 3 December, adding that Venezuela does not recognize Mercosur's decision and that Venezuela is still acting as the bloc's rotating president (Panorama). Speaking from Vienna about the suspension, Vázquez noted that in politics and in relations between countries, nothing is irreversible and everything can change (Tal Cual).
Venezuela was formally suspended from Mercosur on 2 December, when the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay sent Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez a communiqué notifying Rodríguez that Venezuela lost its rights as a full member of the bloc after failing to adopt Mercosur regulations by the 1 December deadline (Efecto Cocuyo). Unlike its fellow founding members, the Uruguayan government abstained from the September 2016 vote to enforce a deadline for Venezuela to comply with the bloc's rules (Tal Cual). Uruguay has also taken the position that Venezuela still has a voice in the bloc, but has lost its voting rights (Panorama). By avoiding an outright rejection of Venezuela and by agreeing to hold a meeting between Vázquez and Maduro, Uruguay is poised to affect Venezuela's future in Mercosur as well as its diminished standing within the international community.
Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa stated on 18 November 2016 that on 1 December, Venezuela will lose its voting rights in Mercosur, as it has not adopted all of the trade bloc's regulations. Nin Novoa added that for Uruguay, this does not mean Venezuela faces expulsion from the bloc (Globovisión). However, Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga stated on 21 November that Venezuela will be suspended from Mercosur on 1 December, and will remain so until it adopts the rules required to be an associate member of Mercosur (La Patilla). Mercosur's founding members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay agreed on 13 September that Venezuela could not serve as the bloc's rotating president and gave Venezuela until 1 December to ratify over 300 rules and regulations to maintain its membership. Loizaga added the bloc's founding members will meet in Montevideo on 22 November to analyze the situation in Venezuela (Efecto Cocuyo).
The Chilean airline Latin American Wings (LAW) expressed interest in the airline Alas Uruguay, which ceased operations at the end of October 2016 (El Observador, 2 November 2016). LAW began operations in January 2016, with flights to Lima and Punto Cana. It began with three planes, and leased others from Alas Uruguay. LAW representatives will meet with Alas Uruguay and with government authorities, including Transportation Minister Victor Rossi to discuss their in intentions--which could include LAW purchasing Alas Uruguay shares (El Observador). El País reported Alas Uruguay requested additional loans from the Fondes, which were turned down.
Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga stated on 17 October 2016 there is no crisis in Mercosur over Venezuela. Loizaga reiterated Venezuela is not acting as Mercosur's rotating president, despite statements to the contrary from the Venezuelan government (Globovisión). The Foreign Minister stated in September 2016, the four founding members of Mercosur determined Venezuela could not act as president because the country had not adopted all of Mercosur's rules and noted Venezuela has until 1 December to comply with Mercosur regulations or face possible suspension (La Patilla). Loizaga stated founding members Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil are pushing ahead with negotiations over a trade deal with the European Union (EU) without Venezuela, which is an associate member of Mercosur and was not involved in the initial stages of the trade talks (La Patilla).