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Geographical pattern of UK trade

Published Tuesday, November 5, 2019

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 attached Excel spreadsheet (see under supporting documents) allows for easy access and presentation of data on UK trade with individual countries between 1999 and 2018.

The EU as a bloc is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2018, it accounted for 45% 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 £121 billion of goods and services to the US in 2018, 19% of all exports. This was more than double the value of exports to Germany, the UK’s second largest export market (£56 billion). 10 of the UK’s top 25 export markets in 2018 were EU member states, as were 12 of the top 25 countries from which the UK imports.

Trade with China has expanded rapidly in recent years. China now accounts for over 7% of UK imports compared with 2% in 1999 and is the UK’s fourth largest source of imports. The UK exported £23 billion of goods and services to China in 2018 making it the UK's sixth largest export market.

The Commonwealth accounts for around 10% of UK trade. This proportion has remained reasonably stable over the last decade. UK trade with the Commonwealth is heavily concentrated on five Commonwealth countries - India, Australia, Canada, Singapore and South Africa.



Commons Briefing papers CBP-7593

Authors: Matthew Ward; Dominic Webb

Topic: International trade

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