Published On: 11/01/20216.4 min read
UK Trade

In 2019 alone, the UK sent $469.2 billion worth of goods to the rest of the world. Although a small island nation, UK trade is booming, with exported goods and services making up roughly 30% of the countries GDP, and imported goods and services making another 32%, making trade the UK’s most significant contributor to GDP at 62%.

A lot is going on right now in the world of UK trade. With Brexit just complete and new regulations in place, it’s hard to say what it means for UK trade and the general population as a whole. Read on as we explore UK trade’s current state and what it means going forward in 2021.

Who are the UK’s biggest trading partners?

As of the first half of 2020, the UK’s top 5 trade partners are the US, Germany, the Netherlands, France and China, making 3 out of 5 of those trade partners EU countries.

1. United States

In 2019, US trade with the UK for goods and services stood at an estimated 273.0 billion US dollars. Exports accounted for 147.4 billion dollars of that, imports around 125.6 billion dollars. This makes the UK the 7th largest goods trading partner of the US 132.3 billion dollars of two-way goods trading as of 2019.

2. Germany

Trade between the UK and Germany is strong, with Germany being the second-biggest export market for goods and services from the UK and their second-biggest overall trade partner. In 2019, Trade between Germany and the UK accounted for £136 billion, a substantial 10.2% of all UK trade.

3. The Netherlands

Another EU country that we trade with a fair amount is The Netherlands. The UK exports around $10.72 billion of fuel and oil products to the Dutch, a substantial percentage of UK-Netherlands imports, with the next being machinery at only $2.38 billion in comparison. On the other hand, the Netherlands is also a large exporter to the UK, with the UK being their 4th largest export trade partner at a value of $44.58 billion as of 2019.

4. France

France is the UK’s 4th biggest trade partner as of 2019 and the third and last of the top 5 UK trade partners in the EU. Imports of goods and services from France to the UK stood at £40.8 billion in 2019, with exports from the UK to France at a similar number of £40.37 billion, making the total trade between the UK and France a significant amount of around £81.2 billion.

5. China

Being the UK’s sixth-biggest export market and 4th largest importer of goods and services, China is one of the UK’s most significant trade partners. The trade relationship between China and the UK has been growing for some time, and it recently hit it’s most substantial levels yet. Exports of goods and services to China were worth around £30.7 billion, whereas imports from China stood at a more significant £49 billion.

With the way that world trade is now and the economic shakeup that we are currently experiencing, it’s beyond doubt that trade has been heavily affected in 2020 by the pandemic and may be largely different. And with 3 out of 5 of the UK’s top trading partners being EU members, it’s tough to say what Brexit will mean for these trade partnerships going forward.

How many countries do the UK trade with?

The UK trades with 200 countries across the globe, so to best break this down, we will list each country in two different groups; EU countries and non-EU countries that the UK trades with.

1. EU Countries that the UK does trade with

    • Germany
    • Netherlands
    • France
    • Ireland
    • Spain
    • Belgium
    • Italy
    • Sweden
    • Poland
    • Denmark
    • Portugal
    • Austria
    • Greece
    • Luxembourg
    • Hungary
    • Finland
    • Romania
    • Slovak Republic
    • Cyprus
    • Lithuania

Of course, as of 2021 and the new Brexit deal, things are sure to change for the UK concerning the EU, and trade will undoubtedly be different. That being said, we’re confident that UK trade will thrive once time has passed and more and more trade deals come into place.


2. Non-EU Countries that the UK does trade with

    • Columbia*
    • Ecuador*
    • Peru*
    • Cameroon*
    • Antigua and Barbuda*
    • Barbados*
    • St. Kitts and Nevis*
    • Belize*
    • The Bahamas*
    • Saint Lucia*
    • Dominica*
    • The Dominican Republic*
    • Grenada*
    • Jamaica*
    • St. Vincent and the Grenadines*
    • Trinidad and Tobago*
    • The Republic of Guyana*
    • Costa Rica*
    • El Salvador*
    • Guatemala*
    • Honduras*
    • Nicaragua*
    • Panama*
    • Chile*
    • Côte d’Ivoire*
    • Mauritius*
    • Seychelles*
    • Zimbabwe*
    • Egypt*
    • The Faroe Islands*
    • Georgia*
    • Iceland*
    • Norway*
    • Israel*
    • Japan*
    • Kenya*
    • Kosovo*
    • Lebanon*
    • Liechtenstein*
    • Moldova*
    • Morocco*
    • North Macedonia*
    • Fiji*
    • Papua New Guinea*
    • Samoa*
    • The Solomon Islands*
    • Palestine*
    • Singapore*
    • South Korea*
    • Botswana*
    • Eswatini*
    • Lesotho*
    • Mozambique*
    • Namibia*
    • South Africa*
    • Switzerland*
    • Tunisia*
    • Turkey*
    • Ukraine*
    • Vietnam*
    • Russia
    • China

As you can see, the UK trades with pretty much the entire world. However, they do not have recent trade deals with all of these countries and sometimes depend on other types of older trade deals to do business, such as the Anglo-Soviet trade agreement that facilitates trade between the UK and Russia (Soviet Russia the time).

All of the above countries marked with a * are part of recent trade agreements or ongoing trade agreements that took effect or were reinstated as of January 2021.

What percentage of EU trade is with the UK?

According to a report published on 10th November 2020 by the House of Commons Library, trade with the EU accounted for 47% of the UK’s total trade in 2019, 43% of which were UK exports and 52% imports. This follows a decreasing trend of UK exports to the EU, with the year before being around 2% higher at 45%.

In total, the UK exported a whopping £294 billion of goods and services to EU member states in 2019. Goods and services imports from the EU to the UK were also worth a significant £373 billion, making the EU one of our primary trade sources.

What is the UK’s biggest export?

The UK’s biggest export is machinery and transport equipment, amounting to around £142 billion of trade in 2019 alone. When it comes to food and drink, the UK’s largest consumable export by far is Whisky at a massive £5 billion a year in trade. The second-largest food and drink export is salmon at only £832.6 million in comparison!

The second-largest non-food export from the UK is chemicals at £57 billion, manufacturing at £55 billion and fuel exports at £36 billion.

Find out more about the UK’s top exports.

What trade agreements does the UK have?

There are several trade agreements between the UK and the rest of the world, such as the CARIFORUM trade bloc, facilitating trade between the UK and the Caribbean. There’s also the UK-Central America association agreement which enables trade between the UK and the Central America and the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc which facilitates trade amongst numerous African countries.

Another big one is the UK-Pacific economic partnership agreement (EPA) that allows the UK to trade with the Pacific States, such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea. There are several other more specific trade agreements between the UK and individual countries.

Of course, as Brexit is now over and a deal has been made, we will likely see more individual trade deals sprouting up between the UK and EU member states, as well as more international non-EU trade deals take place in the near future.

Trade UK Food & Drink Exports with Smylies

Although UK trade is going through a little shake-up at the moment, the UK is one of the worlds most vital trade partners and will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable. So take advantage of the UK’s firm trade deals and export some of the best British food and drink directly from Smylies.

Start your customised export order today at our online shopor get in touch with one of our friendly team members and we will help you with your food and drink export needs.