Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Food processing equipment is also part of the trend.

Investment in machinery and equipment in Uruguay was up more than 20 percent in the first quarter of 2016 over the same quarter last year. These figures come from Uruguay’s Industrial Chamber, which publishes the information as part of its machinery and equipment investment indicator (IMEQ). The indicator’s rise comes at a crucial moment, as each of the previous IMEQs had progressively fallen. Since 2012, the sector has been in a cyclical downtrend, culminating in a 21 percent contraction in 2015. The recent growth has brought a wave of optimism as total investment has returned to 2011 figures.

Given that industrial machinery and equipment are among Uruguay's major import categories, the government has been willing to enact legislation to reinvigorate the sector. In February, the country voted to extend corporate income tax exemptions for manufacturing agricultural machinery and equipment through 2017. The key factor influencing this decision was the rapid turnaround in the sales of agricultural machinery that played a large role in the IMEQ’s surge.

Other areas of equipment and machinery that contributed to the sector’s turnaround included rubber and plastics, vacuum sealing systems, storage and dairy handling. Large transactions and investments were made by companies such as Velcroindustrial, Conaprole and Alimentos Fray Bentos. Given that a significant number of these large deals fall under the umbrella of food packaging and agricultural machinery, this trend presents opportunities for Wisconsin companies.