Uruguay is getting more competitive in its bid to lure international film and TV shoots, helped by a 22% value-added-tax exemption for production services and international co-productions.

Foreign commercials shoots have long pumped up the local production sector. “Uruguay’s tradition in offering advertising services has improved crew and tech resources for movies,” says Roberto Villamil, executive director at export body Uruguay XXI.

In 2012, Uruguay XXI launched an initiative to promote the country’s film and TV services, particularly animation, as an outsourcing hub for foreign companies, Villamil says.

Between 2010 and 2012, shoots in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, rose almost 50% to 194, led by commercials, says Lucila Bortagaray at the Uruguay Film Commission.

There is also a burgeoning presence of lower-budget, regional film projects, aided by Uruguay’s strong line in international co-productions.

“The main advantage of shooting in Uruguay is local crews’ high educational and professional levels,” says Jose Maria Morales of Madrid-based Wanda Films, which co-produced both “Whisky” and “Artigas — La Redota.”

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Lower-budget films also benefit from the VAT exemption: a $1 million pic will save about 5%-7% of its budget, per producer Fernando Epstein. “Although Uruguay’s range of locations is smaller, shooting costs are lower here,” says Gisella Previtali at Montevidean Locations.