United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports

United Kingdom’s Top Exports

by Flagpictures.org

Technically the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the western European country typically called the United Kingdom shipped US$444.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a -18.8% setback since 2013 but an 8.1% uptick from one year earlier in 2016.

From January to October 2018, Britain’s exported goods were valued at $411.8 billion. This 10-month metric puts UK exports on track for an annualized $494.1 billion estimated for all 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, United Kingdom’s exported goods plus services represent 30.1% of total UK economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 54.4% of UK exports by value were delivered to other European trade partners with almost 48% going to European Union members. Another 22.6% was sold to Asian importers while the United Kingdom shipped 15% worth to North America. Smaller percentages arrived in Africa (2.5%), Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (1.6%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.4%).

Given United Kingdom’s population of 64.8 million people, its total $444.5 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly 6,900 for every resident in that country.

The United Kingdom’s unemployment rate was 4.1% as of October 2018 — an improvement from the 4.3% jobless rate as reported by Trading Economics 12 months earlier.

United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in UK global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from United Kingdom.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$68 billion (15.3% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $53.7 billion (12.1%)
  3. Mineral fuels including oil: $35.6 billion (8%)
  4. Gems, precious metals: $32.8 billion (7.4%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: $32.8 billion (7.4%)
  6. Electrical machinery, equipment: $28.6 billion (6.4%)
  7. Aircraft, spacecraft: $21.1 billion (4.7%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $18.1 billion (4.1%)
  9. Plastics, plastic articles: $12 billion (2.7%)
  10. Organic chemicals: $10.3 billion (2.3%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of UK’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

United Kingdom’s top 10 exports accounted for more than two-thirds (70.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing export product among the top 10 categories, up 38.4% from 2016 to 2017 led by increased international sales revenue for UK’s crude oil, refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.

In second place for improving export sales was the gems and precious metals category which gained 15.2% spearheaded by significant international sales of gold, platinum and diamonds.

UK exported gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value up 12.8%, trailed by a 10% increase for exported plastics and plastic articles.


The following types of UK product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Aircraft, spacecraft: US$6.2 billion (Up by 238.9% since 2016)
  2. Collector items, art, antiques: $3.7 billion (Up by 9.3%)
  3. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $1.9 billion (Up by 18.3%)
  4. Other chemical goods: $1.4 billion (Down by -19.1%)
  5. Books, newspapers, pictures: $1.3 billion (Up by 2.5%)
  6. Tanning, dyes, paints, varnishes, ink: $720.9 million (Down by -12.4%)
  7. Organic chemicals: $570.1 million (Down by -55.1%)
  8. Iron, steel: $497.8 million (Up by 58.7%)
  9. Arms, ammunition: $382.1 million (Up by 308.8%)
  10. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $283.9 million (Reversing a -$337.7 million deficit)

United Kingdom has highly positive net exports in the international trade of aircraft or spacecraft parts and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate United Kingdom’s strong competitive advantages under the aircraft and spacecraft product category.


Overall the United Kingdom incurred a -$199.2 billion trade deficit during 2017, down -11.4% from -$224.9 billion in red ink in 2016.

As of June 2018, UK’s trade deficit stood at -$93.5 billion up 1.9% compared to the first 6 months of 2017.

Below are exports from United Kingdom that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country United Kingdom’s goods trail UK importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$35.3 billion (Up by 14.9% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: -$19 billion (Down by -16.7%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: -$17 billion (Down by -59.9%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: -$16.2 billion (Up by 15.9%)
  5. Machinery including computers: -$14.4 billion (Down by -8.6%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$7.7 billion (Down by -14.9%)
  7. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$7.6 billion (Up by 0.7%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$6.5 billion (Down by -15.1%)
  9. Wood: -$6.4 billion (Up by 5.1%)
  10. Plastics, plastic articles: -$6.3 billion (Up by 2.4%)

United Kingdom has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mobile phones under the electrical machinery and equipment category.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate United Kingdom’s competitive disadvantages in the international electronics market, but also represent key opportunities for United Kingdom to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.


UK Export Companies

Here are UK export companies ranking among the largest international trade players for the United Kingdom:

  • Anglo American PLC (diversified metals, mining)
  • AstraZeneca (pharmaceuticals)
  • BP (oil, gas)
  • British American Tobacco (tobacco)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (pharmaceuticals)
  • Johnson Matthey (chemicals)
  • Mondi Group (paper, paper products)
  • Rio Tinto Group (diversified metals, mining)
  • SABMiller (beverages)
  • Smith & Nephew (medical equipment, supplies)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of UK exporters:

  • Allied Pickfords UK (forage products, corn, t-shirts)
  • Cadbury UK (chocolate bars, other chocolate preparations)
  • GKN Timet UK (titanium)
  • Optivite International (formic acid, proprionic acid, animal feeds not for dog or cat)
  • Rothenberger UK (pipe/bolt cutters, propylene, miscellaneous tubes/pipes/hoses)


Searchable List of UK’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, UK’s top export products are cars followed by turbo-jets then medication mixes in dosage.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from the United Kingdom during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankUK Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Cars$41.9 billion+2.7%
2Turbo-jets$25.2 billion+29.9%
3Medication mixes in dosage$20.4 billion-6.1%
4Crude oil$19 billion+44.1%
5Gold (unwrought)$17 billion+9.3%
6Aircraft parts$16.1 billion+7.6%
7Processed petroleum oils$11.3 billion+23.7%
8Blood fractions (including antisera)$9.7 billion+11.5%
9Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$7.3 billion+3.5%
10Automobile parts/accessories$6.6 billion+4.7%
11Platinum (unwrought)$5.6 billion+34.3%
12Phone system devices $5.2 billion+4.9%
13Jewelry$4.7 billion+3.6%
14Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$4.4 billion-1.2%
15Aircraft, spacecraft$4.3 billion-21.1%
16Computers, optical readers$3.9 billion-3.8%
17Engines (diesel)$3.9 billion+26.6%
18Petroleum gases$3.7 billion+25.7%
19Taps, valves, similar appliances$3 billion-4.4%
20Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$2.9 billion+6.9%
21Iron or steel scrap$2.9 billion+41.6%
22Printed books, brochures$2.5 billion+3.8%
23Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$2.5 billion-13.2%
24Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$2.3 billion+1.3%
25Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$2.2 billion+22.3%
26Physical/chemical analysis tools$2.1 billion+8.6%
27Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$2.1 billion+12.1%
28Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$2.1 billion+8.4%
29Lower-voltage switches, fuses$2 billion+4.2%
30Liquid pumps and elevators$2 billion+1.9%
31Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$1.9 billion+21.5%
32Piston engines$1.8 billion-2.4%
33Unrecorded sound media$1.8 billion-0.7%
34Other diagnostic/lab reagents$1.8 billion+4%
35Piston engine parts$1.8 billion+0.02%
36Printing machinery$1.7 billion+12.1%
37Other measuring/testing machines$1.7 billion+8.3%
38Trucks$1.6 billion+19.8%
39Other food preparations$1.6 billion+6%
40Tractors$1.6 billion+9.5%
41Insulated wire/cable$1.6 billion+21.3%
42Miscellaneous machinery$1.6 billion-4.7%
43Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$1.6 billion+4%
44Integrated circuits/microassemblies$1.5 billion-1.8%
45Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$1.5 billion+20.5%
46Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.5 billion+4%
47Miscellaneous plastic items$1.5 billion+1%
48Computer parts, accessories$1.5 billion-10.4%
49Machinery parts$1.5 billion+18.6%
50Regulate/control instruments$1.4 billion+1.5%
51Liquid/gas checking instruments$1.3 billion+0.2%
52Air or vacuum pumps$1.3 billion-0.04%
53Orthopedic appliances$1.3 billion+11.3%
54Electrical converters/power units$1.3 billion+8.7%
55Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$1.3 billion+0.7%
56Other organic cleaning preparations$1.3 billion+5.1%
57Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1.3 billion+2.1%
58Electrical machinery$1.2 billion+3%
59Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$1.2 billion+12.5%
60Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$1.2 billion+3.5%
61Footwear (leather)$1.2 billion-1.7%
62Chemical industry products/residuals$1.2 billion+4.6%
63Acyclic hydrocarbons$1.1 billion+15.3%
64Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$1.1 billion+10.3%
65X-ray equipment$1.1 billion+12.2%
66Miscellaneous iron or steel items$1.1 billion+6%
67Print/write/draw inks$1.1 billion+4.2%
68Electric generating sets, converters$1.1 billion+1.3%
69Fork-lift trucks$1.1 billion+14.7%
70Precious metal waste, scrap$1.1 billion+9%
71Whole fish (fresh)$1.1 billion+27.6%
72Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$1 billion+6.2%
73Copper waste, scrap$1 billion+10%
74Sort/screen/washing machinery$1 billion+7.1%
75Miscellaneous heterocyclics$972.4 million-4.3%
76Miscellaneous furniture$963.9 million+3.4%
77Packaged dressings$929.8 million+29.7%
78Electric motors, generators$918.3 million+14.2%
79Cases, handbags, wallets$903.0 million+6.7%
80Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$893.2 million+2.8%
81Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$888.6 million+4%
82Navigational aids including compasses$888.3 million+6.4%
83Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$874.3 million+4.3%
84Sculptures, statues$864.3 million-29.1%
85Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$859.9 million+11.2%
86Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$834.9 million+12.2%
87Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$831 million+8.4%
88Antiques (over 100 years old)$828 million-14.1%
89Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$827.8 million+5.6%
90Perfumes, toilet waters$822.9 million-1%
91Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$816.4 million+22.5%
92Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$815.2 million+3.6%
93Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$814.1 million-18.8%
94TV receivers/monitors/projectors$814 million+17.3%
95Temperature-change machines$808.5 million+4.2%
96Rubber tires (new)$804.5 million-4.8%
97Silver (unwrought)$802.1 million+10.2%
98Other coloring matter, luminophores$792.5 million+19.8%
99Cheese, curd$791.4 million+17.3%
100Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$790.7 million-6.4%
101Ethylene polymers$787.4 million+20.7%
102Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$752.2 million+7.8%
103T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$751.7 million+2.1%
104Lifting/loading machinery$732.4 million-1.6%
105Wine $721.7 million+10%
106Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$716.8 million+1.8%
107Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$715.1 million+13.1%
108Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)$713.4 million+9.4%
109TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$690.9 million-8.8%
110Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$687 million-5.1%
111Malt beer$676.1 million-16%
112Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$665.8 million+16.3%
113Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$661.9 million+1.6%
114Medication mixes not in dosage$649.6 million-17%
115Propylene/olefin polymers$649.1 million+60.7%
116Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$644 million+8.2%
117Miscellaneous engines, motors$624.1 million+4.7%
118Table games, bowling equipment$624.1 million+4%
119Microphones/headphones/amps$623.7 million+0.5%
120Aluminum (unwrought)$619.9 million+9.7%
121Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$618.2 million+4.8%
122Sports equipment$615.1 million+5.1%
123Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$614 million-27.3%
124Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$579.3 million+1%
125Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$572.3 million+4.8%
126Aluminum waste, scrap$567.1 million-1.6%
127Vulcanized rubber items$558.7 million+8.2%
128Cyclic hydrocarbons$557.7 million-3.8%
129Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$553 million-4.8%
130Electric storage batteries$552.3 million+9.3%
131Hair preparations$551.9 million+2.4%
132Air conditioners$550.6 million+9.2%
133Ball, roller bearings$549 million+7.9%
134Prepared cereal foods$542.1 million+4%
135Survey/hydro/weather instruments$538.5 million-1%
136Iron or steel pipe fittings$536.9 million-0.9%
137Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$532.7 million+2.9%
138Footwear (textile)$531.4 million-3.3%
139Radar, radio communication items$531.1 million-25.1%
140Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$527.5 million+9.6%
141Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$526.4 million+20.5%
142Trailers$524.6 million+23.4%
143Stainless steel ingots$520.7 million+30.8%
144Acrylic polymers$520 million+6.3%
145Glass fibers$518.4 million-2.5%
146Titanium$516.1 million+0.6%
147Electric water heaters, hair dryers$510.8 million+5%
148Miscellaneous machine electrical parts$509 million+11.6%
149Base metal mountings, fittings$508.2 million+15.7%
150Worn clothing$508 million+6.3%
151Soap, organics surface-active goods$499.8 million+0.9%
152Sheep or goat meat$496.5 million+12.2%
153Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods$494.1 million-17.3%
154TV/radio/radar device parts$491.3 million-8.1%
155Live horses, donkeys, mules$482.6 million+10.3%
156Silicones$471.5 million+2.7%
157Harvest/threshing machinery$466.9 million-7%
158Electric ignition/start equipment$464 million-0.8%
159Cellulose fiber paper$455.4 million-2.8%
160Lead (unwrought)$447.9 million+11.7%
161Stone/mineral substances items$447.1 million+5.3%
162 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $446.6 million+3.2%
163Fresh or chilled beef$446.5 million+5.6%
164Crustaceans (including lobsters)$437.6 million+6.4%
165Machinery for making semi-conductors$434.3 million+5.6%
166Nickel (unwrought)$429.6 million+0.1%
167Sauces, preparations, condiments$427.7 million-0.02%
168Precious metal compounds$421.2 million+3.2%
169Dried organs, heparin$420.1 million+969.6%
170Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$418 million+56.5%
171Gaskets, similar joints$412.1 million+11.5%
172Hormones, miscellaneous steroids$397.5 million+16.5%
173Ethyl alcohol$394.5 million+59.6%
174Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$386.8 million-13.7%
175Newspapers, journals$386.3 million+4.1%
176Paper containers, cellulose wadding$385.1 million-5.6%
177Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$384.1 million+13.3%
178Swine meat$377.7 million+10.8%
179Interchangeable hand/machine tools$375.1 million+0.9%
180Printed matter including photos$374.2 million-5.5%
181Poultry meat$361.4 million+7%
182Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$360.8 million+181.7%
183Coffee$359.6 million+5.2%
184Coffee/tea extracts, concentrates$357 million+5.6%
185Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)$352.8 million+3.8%
186Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$348.9 million+34.8%
187Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$345.3 million+8.9%
188Oral/dental hygiene preparations$344.6 million-0.5%
189Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$333.6 million+88.2%
190Other machine parts, accessories$331.8 million+8%
191Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$330.7 million+24.4%
192Uncoated paper for writing/printing$329.8 million+7.6%
193Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)$329 million+10.3%
194Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$326.3 million+15.6%
195Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$324.3 million+9.5%
196Amine-function compounds$324.2 million-12.2%
197Mechano-therapy appliances$320.2 million+4.2%
198Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$314.4 million+5.6%
199Butter$314 million+48%
200Saturated acyclic mono acids$313.7 million-3.9%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$367.5 billion or 82.8% by value for all products exported from the UK during 2017.

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

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 30, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on December 30, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies based in London. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 23, 2016