This seminar on the political economy of Uruguay's international economic relations focused on Uruguay's policy choices in light of the global economic crisis and upcoming presidential elections, in one of Latin America's most stable democracies. Panels addressed the country's situation within the MERCOSUR, commercial ties and partnerships with the United States and other countries outside South America, as well as the distributional consequences of Uruguayan trade policy. Speakers included some of Uruguay's foremost economists, representatives from the private sector and labor unions, and high level public officials in charge of the country's foreign trade affairs. The conference concluded with a special panel involving economic advisors and representatives from the four main presidential contenders in the October elections.

Panelists agreed on the strategic and practical importance of Uruguay's economic ties with Brazil and Argentina through the MERCOSUR customs union. Overall they rejected the notion that Uruguay should pursue preferential trade agreements with non-MERCOSUR countries, especially the U.S., since that would necessarily imply an exit from the regional bloc. Yet the conference evidenced a growing consensus in Uruguay about the need to reformulate MERCOSUR and allow those countries that seek deeper trade liberalization and convergence to proceed at a faster pace than members whose policies reflect a more protectionist stance. Certain pragmatism also became evident regarding the asymmetries and coordination problems in MERCOSUR, as well as the productive and commercial capabilities of a small, open economy with strong regional ties like Uruguay. In this sense, panelists concluded that it would be impossible for Uruguay to pursue a unilateral trade strategy such as the one successfully practiced by Chile in the last fifteen years, and that its economic future lies in a better MERCOSUR.