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$484 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018 according to the latest statistics from the International Trade Centre. That dollar amount represents a -5.3% decline since 2014 but a 9.5% year-over-year gain from 2017 to 2018.

From a continental perspective, 54.2% of UK exports by value were delivered to other European trade partners (that percentage compares with 46.6% going to European Union members). Another 23.1% was sold to Asian importers while the United Kingdom shipped 15.2% worth to North America.

Smaller percentages went to Africa (2.3%), Oceania (1.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand then Latin America (1.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.

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 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total UK exports.

  1. United States: US$64.4 billion (13.3% of total UK exports)
  2. Germany: $47 billion (9.7%)
  3. Netherlands: $33.3 billion (6.9%)
  4. France: $31.8 billion (6.6%)
  5. Ireland: $28.3 billion (5.9%)
  6. China: $27.5 billion (5.7%)
  7. Switzerland: $25.4 billion (5.2%)
  8. Belgium: $19.1 billion (4%)
  9. Italy: $14.1 billion (2.9%)
  10. Spain: $13.9 billion (2.9%)
  11. Hong Kong: $10.3 billion (2.1%)
  12. United Arab Emirates: $10 billion (2.1%)
  13. Turkey: $9.5 billion (2%)
  14. Japan: $8.3 billion (1.7%)
  15. South Korea: $7.8 billion (1.6%)

Approaching three-quarters (72.5%) of UK exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Turkey was the only top importers that decreased its purchases from United Kingdom from 2017 to 2018, down in value by -0.6%.

Among the other 14 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 0.6% for Germany up to 28.5% for China.

For a complete listing, see the section Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing UK Exports near the bottom of this article.

Deficits

Overall the United Kingdom incurred a -$189.1 billion trade deficit during 2018, down -5.1% from -$199.3 billion in red ink in 2017.

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$44.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
  2. China: -$35.3 billion
  3. Netherlands: -$22.1 billion
  4. Norway: -$20.9 billion
  5. Belgium: -$15.8 billion
  6. Italy: -$11.7 billion
  7. Poland: -$7.6 billion
  8. Spain: -$7.1 billion
  9. Canada: -$6.4 billion
  10. Russia: -$6.1 billion

Among United Kingdom’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, UK’s deficits with Russia (up 72.6%), Belgium (up 9.5%) and Norway (up 8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

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$16.7 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
  2. Ireland: $9.6 billion
  3. United Arab Emirates: $7.5 billion
  4. Hong Kong: $7.4 billion
  5. Singapore: $4.8 billion
  6. South Korea: $2.4 billion
  7. Australia: $2 billion
  8. Qatar: $1.7 billion
  9. Saudi Arabia: $1.3 billion
  10. Oman: $1.2 billion

Among United Kingdom’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, UK’s surpluses with Australia (up 130.3%), Switzerland (up 101.1%) and Hong Kong (up 85%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

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. 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)


 

Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing UK Exports

You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below. The right-most shows the percentage change in value for each importing country since 2017.

RankImporter2018 UK Exports2017-8
1. United States$64.4 billion+8.8%
2. Germany$47 billion+0.6%
3. Netherlands$33.3 billion+20.7%
4. France$31.8 billion+4.7%
5. Ireland$28.3 billion+12.8%
6. China$27.5 billion+28.5%
7. Switzerland$25.4 billion+25.2%
8. Belgium$19.1 billion+7.7%
9. Italy$14.1 billion+6.7%
10. Spain$13.9 billion+3.4%
11. Hong Kong$10.3 billion+9.9%
12. United Arab Emirates$10 billion+4.1%
13. Turkey$9.5 billion-0.6%
14. Japan$8.3 billion+12.9%
15. South Korea$7.8 billion+3.4%
16. Sweden$7.4 billion+8.5%
17. Canada$7.3 billion+16.4%
18. Singapore$6.8 billion+10.2%
19. Poland$6.8 billion0.06
20. India$6.6 billion+24.9%
21. Australia$5.8 billion+1.4%
22. Norway$4.5 billion0.16
23. Saudi Arabia$4.4 billion-0.18
24. Denmark$3.7 billion+4.2%
25. Russia$3.3 billion-11.2%
26. Qatar$3.1 billion-0.8%
27. Czech Republic$3 billion+8.1%
28. Austria$2.7 billion+10.8%
29. South Africa$2.6 billion-5.6%
30. Brazil$2.5 billion+8.9%
31. Portugal$2.1 billion+4.4%
32. Mexico$2 billion-0.01%
33. Hungary$2 billion+4.9%
34. Thailand$2 billion+20.7%
35. Finland$1.9 billion+6.3%
36. Nigeria$1.8 billion0.22
37. Romania$1.7 billion+9.2%
38. Taiwan$1.7 billion+15.2%
39. Malaysia$1.7 billion-6.3%
40. Greece$1.6 billion+22.3%
41. Egypt$1.5 billion-2.4%
42. Israel$1.5 billion-5.6%
43. Oman$1.3 billion-0.44
44. Azerbaijan$1.3 billion+343.2%
45. New Zealand$1.2 billion+7.1%
46. Macedonia$1.1 billion+9.6%
47. Pakistan$986.8 million+11.7%
48. Morocco$913.1 million-8.1%
49. Indonesia$898.6 million-10.3%
50. Malta$861.1 million+30.7%
51. Vietnam$833.9 million+11.8%
52. Slovakia$823.2 million0.06
53. Chile$767.5 million-0.6%
54. Kuwait$727.4 million-8.7%
55. Philippines$703.5 million0.03
56. Ukraine$683.8 million+30.3%
57. Bahrain$651.5 million+2.3%
58. Lithuania$634.1 million-11.2%
59. Bulgaria$591.3 million+0.7%
60. Colombia$530 million-9.9%
61. Cyprus$528 million+7.8%
62. Latvia$519.8 million+13.9%
63. Kenya$504 million+13.7%
64. Argentina$488 million+8.8%
65. Gibraltar$482.8 million-1.7%
66. Ghana$471.8 million-3.5%
67. Iraq$468.9 million+11.7%
68. Lebanon$460.9 million-3.2%
69. Algeria$447.7 million+4.1%
70. Slovenia$440.5 million+25.4%
71. Iceland$427.5 million-16.4%
72. Kazakhstan$398.5 million+34.5%
73. Bangladesh$396.4 million+30.6%
74. Sri Lanka$389.9 million+62.2%
75. Ethiopia$363.7 million+17.2%
76. Estonia$362 million+11.1%
77. Croatia$327.8 million+33.7%
78. Jordan$324.8 million-27.4%
79. Luxembourg$319.4 million-6.7%
80. Angola$261.3 million-0.47
81. Serbia$243.1 million+26.2%
82. Peru$228.5 million-0.7%
83. Senegal$224.2 million-12.4%
84. Iran$222.3 million-23.8%
85. Panama$220.9 million0.26
86. Tunisia$213.6 million+10.5%
87. Belarus$212.2 million0.29
88. Uruguay$180.5 million-20.7%
89. Trinidad/Tobago$178.1 million+28.1%
90. Libya$168.8 million-29.8%
91. Tanzania$146.9 million+28.6%
92. Dominican Republic$136.8 million+5.7%
93. Ecuador$125.2 million-0.8%
94. Côte d'Ivoire$120.2 million-16.2%
95. Mauritius$103.8 million-1.3%
96. Zambia$101.7 million+31.7%
97. Sudan$93.9 million-7.4%
98. Costa Rica$86.2 million-2.9%
99. Macao$82.4 million+19.5%
100. Seychelles$81.2 million+164.4%
101. Georgia$80.4 million-36.5%
102. Bermuda$79.6 million-45.7%
103. Cambodia$72.6 million+49.5%
104. Togo$71.8 million0.49
105. Falkland Is (Malvinas)$69.5 million+19.2%
106. Bahamas$69.2 million+83.4%
107. Mali$68.4 million0.32
108. Jamaica$67.2 million-0.31
109. Brunei Darussalam$62.9 million-24.1%
110. Zimbabwe$60.2 million+58.1%
111. Cameroon$60.1 million+7.8%
112. Namibia$58 million+5.3%
113. Uganda$53 million-6.8%
114. Moldova$52.3 million-2.5%
115. Barbados$51.8 million-8.4%
116. Myanmar (Burma)$50.8 million0.31
117. Paraguay$49.7 million0.16
118. Yemen$49.4 million+5.7%
119. Botswana$44.6 million+17.5%
120. Guatemala$44.4 million-2.2%
121. Bolivia$42.9 million+75.9%
122. Sierra Leone$41 million0.02
123. Uzbekistan$40.3 million+6.2%
124. Congo$40.2 million-46.2%
125. Faroe Islands$39.6 million+48.3%
126. Afghanistan$39.6 million+46.2%
127. Guyana$38.2 million-6.5%
128. Gabon$37.8 million-29.3%
129. El Salvador$37.4 million0.35
130. Democratic Rep. Congo$37.3 million+27.3%
131. Gambia$37.1 million+7.1%
132. Turkmenistan$36.7 million-23.1%
133. Equatorial Guinea$35.5 million+9.2%
134. Bosnia/Herzegovina$33.6 million-4.5%
135. Mozambique$31.9 million+11.5%
136. Guinea$29.1 million+2.7%
137. Venezuela$27.7 million-67.8%
138. Chad$27.5 million+191.3%
139. Mongolia$26 million-23.4%
140. Saint Lucia$25.5 million0
141. Benin$24.9 million+8.6%
142. Albania$23.7 million-2.2%
143. Antigua/Barbuda$23.4 million+8.3%
144. British Virgin Islands$23.3 million-22.7%
145. Saint Helena$22.6 million+11.6%
146. New Caledonia$22.5 million+22.9%
147. Burkina Faso$22.5 million+73.3%
148. Maldives$22.2 million+21.9%
149. Aruba$21.7 million-39.9%
150. Fiji$21.6 million+19.3%
151. Cayman Islands$21.5 million-53.5%
152. Montenegro$21 million+19.5%
153. Malawi$19.9 million+11.5%
154. Armenia$18.7 million+33.1%
155. Somalia$18.2 million+20.3%
156. Grenada$18.1 million+39.5%
157. Liberia$18.1 million-4.3%
158. Rwanda$17.6 million+49.6%
159. St Vincent/Grenadines$17.4 million+8.4%
160. Nepal$15.7 million+18.9%
161. Honduras$15.1 million+6.8%
162. Cuba$14.9 million-53.6%
163. Curaçao$14.7 million+8.8%
164. Haiti$14.7 million-30.8%
165. Djibouti$14.5 million+6.4%
166. Syrian Arab Republic$14.2 million+24.3%
167. Madagascar$13.8 million-59.3%
168. Dominica$13.5 million+26.4%
169. Papua New Guinea$11.7 million-0.6
170. Laos$11.6 million-1.6%
171. Andorra$10.6 million+5.1%
172. US Minor Outlying Is$9.9 million+109.9%
173. Mauritania$9.6 million-0.49
174. Suriname$9.6 million-32.9%
175. Belize$9.4 million-54.5%
176. St Maarten (Dutch)$8.9 million+10.8%
177. French Polynesia$8.8 million-2.9%
178. Palestine$8.8 million+20.9%
179. Nicaragua$7.3 million-15.2%
180. St Kitts/Nevis$7.1 million-24.6%
181. Turks/Caicos Is$6.5 million+70.3%
182. Central African Rep$6.4 million+287.2%
183. Eritrea$5.8 million+328.8%
184. Burundi$5.5 million+50.5%
185. Kyrgyzstan$5.4 million-0.34
186. Niue$4.9 million+179.5%
187. Bonaire/St Eustatius/Saba$4.2 million+61.8%
188. Swaziland$3.7 million-0.5%
189. Marshall Islands$3.5 million+200.9%
190. Niger$3.3 million-60.9%
191. Tajikistan$3.1 million+169.2%
192. Greenland$3 million-29.8%
193. South Sudan$2.7 million-0.12
194. Montserrat$2.3 million+14.1%
195. Cabo Verde$2.1 million-20.4%
196. Lesotho$2 million+59.1%
197. Vanuatu$1.9 million+105.7%
198. Comoros$1.7 million+8.8%
199. Bhutan$1.6 million-13.9%
200. Solomon Islands$1.6 million+180.5%
201. Anguilla$1.3 million+80.4%
202. Guinea-Bissau$969,000+4.1%
203. Pitcairn$542,000-0.46
204. Tonga$541,000-55.5%
205. Cocos (Keeling) Islands$406,000+49.3%
206. Sao Tome/Principe$396,000-89.2%
207. Kiribati$356,000+72.8%
208. Timor-Leste$353,000+20.9%
209. Tuvalu$263,000+5,160%
210. Samoa$239,000-98.6%
211. North Korea$219,000-21.8%
Cook Islands$172,0003.41
Micronesia$108,000-72.6%
Palau$103,000-36.8%
lands$101,000-86.3%
French S./Antarctic Territories$55,000-94.5%
Wallis/Futuna Islands$48,0000.6
Nauru$32,000-13.5%
British Indian Ocean Terr$13,000-70.5%
Christmas Island$11,000-70.3%
St. Pierre/Miquelon$3,000-0.4
Norfolk Island$2,000-0.6


 
See also United Kingdom’s Top 10 Imports, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports, UK’s Major EU Exports, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and European Union’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 19, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 19, 2019

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 19, 2019

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 19, 2019

UK Export Directory, Import/Export Catalog for Sourcing from the United Kingdom. Accessed on February 19, 2019