The UK is the world’s tenth largest exporter, just behind Italy (ninth), France (eighth) and the Netherlands (fifth), but a long way behind Germany (third), the USA (second) and China (first).
According to the latest government figures, UK exports totalled £637bn in the year to August 2018 – a £33bn or 5.5% year-on-year increase. Service sector exports grew by 5.3% to “a record high of £289bn”, while goods exports “also increased by 5.6% to £348bn”. According to the government – there’s never been a better time to sell overseas.
Where should you sell?
The UK’s next biggest trade partner is the USA, with 13% (value £45bn) of our exports ending up “over the pond” in 2017. Breaking down the EU, about a tenth of UK exports end up in Germany (£36bn), 7.4% in France (£25bn), 6.2% in the Netherlands (£21bn), 5.7% in Ireland (£19.4bn), with 4.8% ending up in China (£16.3bn). Other top ten markets include Switzerland (4.5% – £15.4bn), Belgium (4% – £13.6bn), Italy and Spain (both 3% – £10.1bn).
British food and drink products continue to prove popular. Successful exports, of course, include Scotch whiskey, with exports growing in both volume (1.6%) and value (8.9%) in 2017 to reach £4.36bn (1.23bn bottles globally). Chocolate continues to be another UK export success story, with exports worth £694m in 2017 – a significant increase since 2010 (£370m), driven by a rise in artisan chocolate exports from smaller independent manufacturers. Scottish salmon exports also reached record levels in 2017 (£600m – up 35% compared to 2016).
UK cheese exports totalled £615m last year – a 23 per cent increase from 2016 (source: HMRC), and cheddar dominated, although British mozzarella showed strong growth. Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland remain key export markets for UK cheesemakers.