That dollar amount results from a 21.3% increase from $671.7 billion during 2018 and an 18.4% year-over-year uptick from $688.2 billion in 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the British pound depreciated by -8.2% against the US dollar since 2018 and decreased by -11.6% from 2021 to 2022. The UK’s weaker local currency makes UK imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the British pound.
Petroleum gases, cars, gold, crude oil, processed oils and turbo-jets lead the list of most valuable products imported into the United Kingdom during 2022.
UK’s imports represent 4.6% of total global imports which totaled an estimated $17.706 trillion one year earlier during 2021.
From a continental perspective, roughly half (49.6%) of United Kingdom’s total imports by value in 2022 were purchased from fellow European countries (compared to 33.8% from European Union members). Trade partners in Asia supplied 29.3% of import purchases by the United Kingdom while 15% originated from North America.
Smaller percentages came from Africa (3%), Latin America (2.6%) including the Caribbean but excluding Mexico, then Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given the United Kingdom’s population of 67.6 million people, its total $815.1 billion in 2022 imports translates to about $12,100 in yearly product demand from every person living in the United Kingdom. That average metric is higher than the $10,300 per capita one year earlier.
United Kingdom’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in the United Kingdom’s import purchases during 2022 at the two-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into the United Kingdom.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$137.2 billion (16.8% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $89.3 billion (11%)
- Vehicles: $73.8 billion (9.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $66.4 billion (8.1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $60.6 billion (7.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $33.1 billion (4.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $22.7 billion (2.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $21.9 billion (2.7%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $14.6 billion (1.8%)
- Organic chemicals: $14.3 billion (1.8%)
The United Kingdom’s top 10 imports accounted for almost two-thirds (65.5%) of the overall value of its product purchases from all countries.
The mineral fuels including oil category posted the greatest increase from 2021 to 2022, up by 95.3%.
In second place were UK imports of pharmaceuticals (up 22.7%) trailed by purchases of imported organic chemicals (up 22%) and vehicles (up 18.3%).
The lone decliner was the precious metals category, dragged down by a -26.5% decline year over year caused mainly by lower revenues from imported gold.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the product categories described below.
UK’s Major Fossil Fuel Imports by Product
In 2022, UK importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels including oil.
- Petroleum gases: US$60.2 billion (up 124.5% from 2021
- Crude oil: $39.5 billion (up 65.1%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $29.6 billion (up 120.7%)
- Electrical energy: $3.4 billion (down -14.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.9 billion (up 192.2%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $880.5 million (up 224.8%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $830.9 million (up 42.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $624.6 million (up 56%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $77.8 million (up 7.3%)
- Peat: $52.4 million (down -35.4%)
Among these import subcategories, British purchases of high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 224.8%), coal and solid fuels made from coal (up 192.2%), then petroleum gases (up 124.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported mineral fuels among UK businesses and consumers.
UK’s Major Imports of Machinery by Product
In 2022, UK importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Turbo-jets: US$21.8 billion (up 44% from 2021
- Computers, optical readers: $13.7 billion (down -15.9%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $3.6 billion (up 9.4%)
- Piston engine parts: $3.1 billion (up 2.6%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $3 billion (up 13.9%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $2.6 billion (up 16.5%)
- Machinery parts: $2.5 billion (up 6.3%)
- Printing machinery: $2.5 billion (up 8.8%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $2.4 billion (up 21.8%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $2.2 billion (down -4.2%)
Among these import subcategories, British purchases of highly capital-intensive turbo-jets (up 44%), liquid pumps and elevators (up 21.8%), then air or vacuum pumps (up 16.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among UK businesses and consumers.
UK’s Major Imports of Vehicles by Product
In 2022, UK importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$44.6 billion (up 30.7% from 2021
- Automobile parts/accessories: $11.5 billion (down -5.1%)
- Trucks: $9.5 billion (up 6.1%)
- Tractors: $2.8 billion (up 42.2%)
- Trailers: $1.5 billion (up 26.5%)
- Motorcycles: $1.2 billion (up 53%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $602.3 million (up 6.6%)
- Automobile bodies: $535 million (down -30.8%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $501.3 million (down -2.8%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $210.2 million (up 5.7%)
Among these import subcategories, British purchases of motorcycles (up 53%), tractors (up 42.2%) then cars (up 30.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
These amounts clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among UK businesses and consumers.
UK’s Major Imports of Electronics by Product
UK importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics during 2022.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$16.6 billion (down -5.2% from 2021
- Insulated wire/cable: $5 billion (up 2.4%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $4.4 billion (up 19.3%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $3.6 billion (up 46%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $3.3 billion (up 16.9%)
- Electric storage batteries: $3.3 billion (up 37.9%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $3 billion (up 0.3%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $2.8 billion (down -7.5%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $2.6 billion (up 39.1%)
- Electrical machinery: $2.1 billion (up 61.3%)
Among these import subcategories, British purchases of electrical machinery (up 61.3%), electrical converters and power units (up 46%) then electrical and optical circuit boards or panels (up 39.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among UK businesses and consumers.
See also United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports, United Kingdom’s Top Trading Partners, UK’s Major Trade Balances with America, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and United Kingdom’s Exported Services
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on March 20, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 20, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 20, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Imported Consumer Products, UK’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products. Accessed on June 25, 2022