This guide provides an overview of the United Kingdom’s (UK) economy, including the country’s primary imports and exports.
UK Economy Overview
The UK is currently ranked the 5th largest economy in the world. The country has a negative trade balance of -$187 billion, with annual imports of $651 billion exceeding exports of $464 billion.
Brexit-related uncertainty is predicted to weigh heavily on the UK economy over the next few years.
However, unemployment rates and GDP growth are expected to remain at current levels throughout the transition period, according to some economic forecasts.
Top UK Exports
Here is a breakdown of the most important products exported by the UK, both commodities and other notable exports.
- Crude petroleum – $26.4 billion
- Gold – $25.8 billion
- Refined petroleum – $14.5 billion
- Platinum – $4.72 billion
- Petroleum gas – $4.26 billion
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Other Notable Exports
- Cars – $43.4 billion
- Gas turbines – $23.5 billion
- Packaged medicaments – $19.3 billion
- Aircraft parts – $15.4 billion
- Hard liquor – $8.11 billion
Top UK Export Destinations
- United States – $61.9 billion
- Germany – $45.5 billion
- Netherlands – $33.3 billion
- France – $29.7 billion
- Ireland – $27.4 billion
Top UK Imports
Here is a breakdown of the most important products imported by the UK, both commodities and other notable imports.
- Gold – $25.4 billion
- Crude petroleum – $24.9 billion
- Refined petroleum – $24.2 billion
Other Notable Imports
- Cars – $48.5 billion
- Packaged Medicaments – $17 billion
Details on the UK’s Imports/Exports
The UK is the 2nd biggest exporter of gold in the world. Its annual exports of around $25.8 billion represent an 8.46% share of the global gold export market.
The country is also the fastest-growing gold exporting market, with 60.3% growth recorded between 2017 and 2018.
The UK is the 2nd biggest platinum exporter with a 14.7% share of the $32 billion global market, after South Africa with its 28.5% share.
Germany (21.2%), North Macedonia (19.1%), and Hong Kong (21.8%) receive almost two-thirds of the UK’s total gold exports.
The UK is the 13th biggest exporter of crude petroleum. This represents 2.45% of all global crude petroleum exports.
Annual silver exports of $1.4 billion make the UK the world’s 3rd biggest exporter of this precious metal. This equates to a market share of 7.69%.
The country is also the fastest growing silver export market with 86.8% growth reported between 2017 and 2018 when exports jumped from $752 million to $1.4 billion.
Interesting Facts About the UK
- An English scientist invented sparkling wine forty years before the Frenchman Dom Perignon was credited with inventing this famous celebratory drink.
- London has one of the oldest and largest transport systems in the world.
- The famous UK tourist attraction of Stonehenge is older than the Egyptian pyramids.
- The British consume 165 million cups of tea per day.
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Sources and Further Reading
- All figures are based on OEC 2018 calculations and projections unless otherwise stated.
- Learn more about the state of world government debt from our country debt clock pages.
- See our global economic indicator guide to more than 45 other countries.
- Get our full guide to trading commodities.