The Uruguay-Russia Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting in Montevideo on Thursday, attended by senior executives of 40 leading local companies and a host of high-profile politicians and journalists. In a keynote speech to the gathering, the country's Vice President Luis Hierro Lopez underscored that the Uruguayan government views Russia as a reliable and potentially lucrative trading partner. He pledged "to make every effort to expand the mutually beneficial cooperation between our cultures" next June, when he will lead an Uruguayan Senate delegation into Russia. Russia's ambassador to the country, Yan Burlyai, also noted the prospects of expanding trade and economic relations between the two countries. After a long break, exports of Uruguayan beef to Russia have been resumed. Moscow's OAO Mosenergo energy operator has put in a tender to build and operate a natural gas-burning power plant. AO AvtoVAZ carmaker has been weighing the possibility of assembling Russian Niva sports utility vehicles, which could be exempt from export duties if sold to the neighboring MERCOSUR member countries. Joint projects are being mulled in prospecting, fishery, and the agribusiness sector. The Chamber of Commerce meeting was a sign of a growing interest in the Uruguayan business community in forging closer ties with Russian partners, as well as their determination to maximize the potential of the Russian market in competition with other regional players.