UK Largest Trade Partners for Export of Goods 2016

A review of the UK largest trading partners for export of goods 2016

UK's Largest Trading Partners for Export of goods

The United Kingdom is the 9th largest export economy in the world for goods. Whilst many of the UK largest trading partners for export of goods 2016 are in Europe, the country’s largest trading partner for exports of goods is currently the United States.

The UK current largest trading partners for export of goods 2016 as reported in the HM Revenue and Customs Overseas Trade Statistics 2016 report are as follows:

United States
The United States is the UK largest trade partner for export of goods in 2016, responsible for 15.2 percent of all UK exports in goods. In 2016 (November 2016), the US spent £41.2 billion GBP in UK goods. Around 34 percent of all UK exports to the United States is machinery and transport equipment. Interestingly, the United States is a closely balanced trading partner, exporting to the UK almost as much as the UK exports to the US, with UK expenditure of US goods noted at £36.5 billion in 2016.

Germany is the United Kingdom’s second largest trade partner for export of goods 2016 worldwide, and its largest trading partner for exports in Europe. In 2016, the UK exported £29.7 billion to the country—10.9 percent of all UK exports YtD (November 2016). Unlike the close to equal trade relationship with the US, the UK exports half as much in terms of goods to Germany as it imports from it. The biggest UK exports to Germany include vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and medical and technical equipment.

The Netherlands
The Netherlands has been a consistently large trade partner for export of goods with the UK, ranking third in its 10 largest economic trading partners from 2013-present, with the UK being the most popular destination for Dutch investors according to the Netherlands government website. The UK exported £17.5 billion in goods in 2016—a 6.4 percent share of all UK exports—the majority being mineral fuels, chemicals and machinery.

The UK’s economic relationship with France is equal to the Netherlands in terms of UK export shares, both making up 6.4 percent of all exported UK goods in 2016 respectively. The top UK industries exporting into France include machines, engines and pumps, oil, vehicles and electronic equipment. 

Irish Republic
The Republic of Ireland is the UK’s fifth largest trade partner for export of goods. The UK exported goods at £15 billion to the Republic of Ireland; £3 billion in excess of the Irish goods that the UK imported in the same year. The main exports by value delivered by the UK are fuel and lubricants, manufactured articles, machinery and food and live animals.

In research carried out by, ‘UK imports to China rose in value at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2015 with a 94.2 percent gain.’ China has consistently remained a prominent figure in the UK’s top export trading partners, with the country being the second largest economy in the world behind the United States. China spent £12.1 billion in UK exports in 2016—4.5% of all UK exported goods in the same year—with top exports being machinery and transport equipment, crude materials and goods and chemicals.

Britain exported £10.8 billion in goods to Belgium in 2016—0.4% less than in 2015—with top UK exports being vehicles, oil, and gems and precious metals. Interestingly, the United Kingdom currently overtakes the US and China among Belgium’s largest trading partners worldwide.

UK exports to Switzerland amount to £9.6 billion; only 3.6 percent of total UK exports in 2016. As with Germany, the trading relationship between the UK and Switzerland is unbalanced after the UK invested £21.9 billion in Swiss imports in the same year. Despite this, Switzerland remains seated in the UK’s 10 largest trading partners in exports. Top UK exports to Switzerland include nuclear reactors and gems and precious metals.

UK exports to Italy in 2016 were 3.3 percent of the total share YtD (November 2016), exporting mainly vehicles, machinery and pharmaceuticals. Italy’s total expenditure in UK exports in 2016 was £8.9 billion, making it the UK’s ninth largest trade partner for export of goods.

Spain is currently the 10th largest trade partner for export of goods with the UK. £8.5 billion in UK exports went to Spain including vehicles, foodstuffs, medicines, machinery and pharmaceuticals; 3.1 percent of total UK export shares in 2016. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, 44 percent of all UK goods and services that we exported to countries in the EU in 2015. UK exports to countries outside of Europe, including the United States and China, were valued at £288 billion in 2015.

Some of the UK’s largest trade partners for export of goods 2016 include those in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the latter being Britain’s largest trading partner in the Middle East. The UK’s trade relationships with countries in the Middle East continues to rise as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly rapidly increased their UK exports expenditure by 36 percent and 23.5 percent respectively, from 2011 to 2015. 

UK’s Top Trading Partners UK Exports GBP (Approx.) % Total UK Exports
United States £41.5bn 15.2%
Germany £29.7bn 10.9%
Netherlands £17.5bn 6.4%
France £17.5bn 6.4%
Ireland £15.4bn 5.7%
China £12.2bn 4.5%
Belgium £10.8bn 4%
Switzerland £9.7bn 3.6%
Italy £8.9bn 3.3%
Spain £8.5bn 3.1%


Sources in producing The UK largest trade partners for export of goods 2016 were:
HM Revenue and Customs, Overseas Trade Statistics, Year to Date 2016.
Office for National Statistics: