United Kingdom’s Top Trading Partners

United Kingdom’s Top Trading Partners

by Flagpictures.org

Comprised of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the United Kingdom is a sovereign state situated across from continental Europe’s north-western coast.

The United Kingdom shipped US$445 billion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That figure represents roughly 2.8% of overall worldwide exports estimated at $15.952 trillion for the prior year 2016.

From a continental perspective, 54.4% of UK exports by value were delivered to other European trade partners while 22.6% were sold to Asian importers. United Kingdom shipped another 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%).

United Kingdom’s Top Trading Partners

Top 15

Below is a list showcasing 15 of United Kingdom’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. That is, these are countries that imported the most UK shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total UK exports.

  1. United States: US$58.4 billion (13.1% of total UK exports)
  2. Germany: $46.6 billion (10.5%)
  3. France: $32.8 billion (7.4%)
  4. Netherlands: $27.6 billion (6.2%)
  5. Ireland: $25.2 billion (5.7%)
  6. China: $21.2 billion (4.8%)
  7. Switzerland: $20.1 billion (4.5%)
  8. Belgium: $17.7 billion (4%)
  9. Italy: $13.2 billion (3%)
  10. Spain: $13.2 billion (3%)
  11. Turkey: $9.6 billion (2.2%)
  12. United Arab Emirates: $9.5 billion (2.1%)
  13. Hong Kong: $9.3 billion (2.1%)
  14. South Korea: $7.5 billion (1.7%)
  15. Japan: $7.3 billion (1.6%)

Approaching three-quarters (71.8%) of UK exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Among these top trade partners, UK exports to Turkey rose in value at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017 via a 55% gain.

In second place were South Korean importers which grew their import purchases from the UK by 26.4%, while France accelerated its UK imports by 23.8%.

China’s imports from the UK increased by 17% year over year.

The sole decliner among the top customer for UK exports was the United States via its -5.2% reduction in purchase value.

Deficits

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 defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.

It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.

United Kingdom incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:

  1. Germany: -US$41.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. China: -$38.3 billion
  3. Netherlands: -$24 billion
  4. Norway: -$19.8 billion
  5. Belgium: -$14.4 billion
  6. Italy: -$10.9 billion
  7. Canada: -$8.8 billion
  8. Poland: -$7.1 billion
  9. Spain: -$6.8 billion
  10. Vietnam: -$6.3 billion

Among the UK’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, UK deficits with Norway (up 48.3%), Vietnam (up 41.6%) and Canada (up 21.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017. In addition, the UK’s trade balance with its top export customer, the United States, went from a $4.5 billion surplus in 2016 to -$2.5 billion in red ink for 2017.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate United Kingdom’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for United Kingdom to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.

Surpluses

Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.

United Kingdom incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:

  1. Switzerland: US$6.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2017)
  2. United Arab Emirates: $6.8 billion
  3. Ireland: $6.4 billion
  4. Hong Kong: $3.6 billion
  5. Singapore: $3.3 billion
  6. Saudi Arabia: $2.7 billion
  7. Oman: $2.2 billion
  8. South Korea: $2.1 billion
  9. Qatar: $1 billion
  10. Macedonia: $950 million

Among the UK’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, UK surpluses with South Korea (up 25,148%), Oman (up 277.9%) and Hong Kong (up 159.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate United Kingdom’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for United Kingdom to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.

Companies

Companies Servicing UK Trading Partners

Ninety-one UK corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major companies headquartered in the UK that Forbes listed:

  • Anglo American (diversified metals, mining)
  • Associated British Foods (food processing)
  • AstraZeneca (pharmaceuticals)
  • BG Group (oil, gas)
  • BP (oil, gas)
  • British American Tobacco (tobacco)
  • Diageo (beverages)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (pharmaceuticals)
  • Imperial Tobacco Group (tobacco)
  • Rio Tinto (diversified metals, mining)
  • Rolls-Royce Holdings (aerospace & defense)
  • SABMiller (beverages)

According to the UK Export Directory, the following are examples of established companies that ship products from the United Kingdom to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis is the product category that the UK-based business specializes in.

  • Absolute Battery (UK) Ltd (power supplies, batteries)
  • Advanced Technology Laboratories (UK) Ltd (electronics)
  • Antech UK Hydraulics (hydraulic motors, other machinery)
  • Diamond Offshore (UK) Ltd (drilling equipment)
  • Global Communications UK Ltd (broadcast equipment, satellites)
  • Gold Major Group (jewelry)
  • Johnson Pump (UK) Limited (rotary lobe pumps)
  • Knight Plastics Ltd (plastic injection mouldings)
  • Nippon Oil Exploration UK Ltd (oil, gas)
  • Trumpler UK Ltd (chemicals)


 
See also United Kingdom’s Top 10 Imports, Highest Value UK Import Products, Highest Value UK Export Products and UK Major Trade Balances with America

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 17, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 17, 2018

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 17, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 23, 2016

UK Export Directory, Import/Export Catalog for Sourcing from the United Kingdom. Accessed on November 2, 2015