Top UK Trade Balances

London bridge (courtesy of Pixabay.com)

London bridge (Pixabay)

Mobile phones and computers were major factors behind the United Kingdom’s highest trade deficits by product. Germany and China placed first and second respectively among trade partners with which United Kingdom experienced the highest negative trade balances.

The United Kingdom’s overall trade deficit incorporating all products and countries equaled -US$182.6 billion in 2018, down by -8.9% from a -$200.3 billion deficit in 2011 after the global recession began gaining traction. Year over year, the -$182.6 billion in red ink for 2018 represents a -8.4% reduction from the -$199.3 billion deficit that the United Kingdom incurred during 2017.

To put the United Kingdom’s trade deficit metric into perspective, the UK’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$8.379 trillion at March 2019. UK’s external debt is the equivalent of over 50 times its negative international trade balance for 2018.

Top UK Trade Balances by Product and Country

Product+

The following 10 leading products generated a surplus subtotal of $42.7 billion for Britain in its global trade during 2018. Metrics listed below highlight the United Kingdom’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners in terms of commodities.

  1. Aircraft parts: US$11.2 billion (Up 17.3% since 2011)
  2. Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs): $6.8 billion (Down -8.9%)
  3. Gold (unwrought): $6.2 billion (Reversing a -$663.7 million deficit)
  4. Turbo-jets: $4.5 billion (Down -18.2%)
  5. Iron or steel scrap: $2.9 billion (Down -18.4%)
  6. Hand-drawn paintings, drawings: $2.64 billion (Reversing a -$1.9 billion deficit)
  7. Engines (diesel): $2.57 billion (Up 27.9%)
  8. Platinum (unwrought): $2.24 billion (Reversing a -$2.4 billion deficit)
  9. Medication mixes in dosage: $2.22 billion (Down -70.3%)
  10. Piston engines: $1.3 billion (Up 46.8%)

Leading percentage increases for the United Kingdom’s product surpluses from 2011 to 2018 were piston engines (up 46.8%), diesel engines (up 27.9%) and aircraft parts (up 17.3%).

The severest percentage decline belongs to medication mixes in dosage (down -70.3%).

Product-

The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$75.4 billion for the United Kingdom in international trade during 2018. Britain exhibited the severest competitive disadvantages in terms of red ink from exporting and importing the following goods.

  1. Phone system devices including smartphones: -US$15.4 billion (Up 41.3% since 2011)
  2. Petroleum gases: -$10.7 billion (Up 32.8%)
  3. Computers, optical readers: -$10.4 billion (Down -12.3%)
  4. Automobile parts/accessories: -$10.1 billion (Up 4.5%)
  5. Processed petroleum oils: -$8.4 billion (Reversing a $4 billion surplus)
  6. Trucks: -$5.6 billion (Up 93.1%)
  7. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: -$4.1 billion (Down -7.2%)
  8. Miscellaneous furniture: -$3.9 billion (Up 21.9%)
  9. Wine: -$3.5 billion (Down -23.1%)
  10. Miscellaneous aircraft, spacecraft (e.g. helicopters, launchers): -$3.3 billion (Reversing a $31.7 million surplus)

Since 2011, the United Kingdom’s red ink in global trade expanded at the fastest percentage pace for trucks (up 93.1%) and phone system devices including smartphones (up 41.3%).

UK product-specific deficits were whittled down for wine (down -23.1%), computers including optical readers (down -12.3%) then television receivers, monitors and projectors (down -7.2%).

Country+

In 2018, Britain generated a robust surplus subtotal worth $59.7 billion with the following 10 trading partners.

  1. Switzerland: US$18.2 billion (Down -29.2% since 2011)
  2. Ireland: $9.4 billion (Up 39.4%)
  3. United Arab Emirates: $7.9 billion (Up 19.4%)
  4. Hong Kong: $7.8 billion (Up 95.3%)
  5. Singapore: $5.2 billion (Up 353.5%)
  6. South Korea: $2.6 billion (Up -462.9%)
  7. Saudi Arabia: $2.22 billion (Down -37%)
  8. Australia: $2.18 billion (Reversing a -$1.2 billion deficit)
  9. Turkey: $2.13 billion (Reversing a -$3 billion deficit)
  10. United States: $2.06 billion (Up 114.3%)

The greatest percentage increases in per-country surpluses since 2011 came from UK trade with Singapore (up 353.5%), United States (up 114.3%) then Hong Kong (up 95.3%).

There were two percentage declines over the 7-year period namely UK trade with Saudi Arabia (down -37%) and Switzerland (down -29.2%).

Country-

During 2018, the United Kingdom experienced a deficit with more than 90 of its 228 trading partners. The following 10 trade partners created a -$178.8 billion deficit subtotal from exchanging exports and imports.

  1. Germany: -US$44.8 billion (Up 33.4% since 2011)
  2. China: -$35.7 billion (Down -31.3%)
  3. Netherlands: -$22.1 billion (Up 123.8%)
  4. Norway: -$20.7 billion (Down -36.9%)
  5. Belgium: -$15.7 billion (Up 153.4%)
  6. Italy: -$12.6 billion (Up 57.4%)
  7. Poland: -$7.6 billion (Up 53.1%)
  8. Spain: -$7.1 billion (Up 107.8%)
  9. Canada: -$6.4 billion (Down -43.1%)
  10. Russia: -$6.1 billion (Up 30.2%)

The United Kingdom’s county-specific trade deficits in 2018 compared to 2011 grew at the fastest pace with Belgium (up 153.4%), Netherlands (up 123.8%) and Spain (up 107.8%).

Britain trimmed the size of its negative trade balances with three of its top partners: Canada (down -43.1%), Norway (down -36.9%) and China (down -31.3%).





 

See also United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Imports, United Kingdom’s Top Trading Partners and UK’s Major EU Exports

Research Sources:
External Debt (for specified countries), CEIC Data. Accessed on August 23, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 23, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 23, 2019

The World Factbook, Field Listing: World, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 23, 2019

Wikipedia, Economy of United Kingdom. Accessed on August 23, 2019