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Geographical pattern of UK trade

Published Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This note looks at the UK's trade with its main trading partners.

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This note looks at the UK’s main trading partners over the last 10-15 years.

The EU as a bloc is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2015, it accounted for 44% of UK exports of goods and services and 53% of the UK’s imports. The EU’s share of UK exports has been falling in recent years: in 1999, the EU’s share was nearly 55%.

Looking at individual countries, the US is the UK’s largest trading partner. The UK exported £84 billion of goods and services to the US in 2015, 16% of the total. This was nearly twice as much as exports to Germany, the second largest export market (£45 billion). 10 of the UK’s top 25 export markets in 2014 were EU member states. 13 of the top 25 countries from which the UK imports were EU member states.

Trade with China has expanded rapidly in recent years. China now accounts for over 7% of UK imports compared with 1.5% in 1999. It is the third largest source of UK imports. The UK exported nearly £16 billion to China in 2015 making it the seventh largest export market for the UK. Trade with India has also increased. India’s share of UK imports has doubled from 0.9% to 1.8% since 1999. India now accounts for 1.3% of UK exports, compared with 0.9% in 1999.

The Commonwealth accounts for around 10% of UK trade. This proportion has remained reasonably stable over the last decade. The UK’s largest trading partners among the Commonwealth countries are India, Australia, Canada, Singapore and South Africa.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7593

Authors: Dominic Webb; Aliyah Dar

Topic: International trade

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