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UK Trade by Commodity & Country – Data Additions Highlight

By Alfred Sadek

The outlook on global economic recovery and trade remains uncertain as the coronavirus re-emerges into a second wave across the world. For the UK the economic downturn is also relevant to consider in the context of Brexit. Apart from dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has been focusing on securing a trade deal with the EU and other countries. Trade is obviously important for the UK as a large portion of goods produced are exported abroad, and hence many jobs are dependent on the UK retaining its market share of exports globally. Imports are similarly important to the UK economy especially when it comes to food products from the European Union.

In our latest data addition highlights, we focus on UK foreign trade. We have recently increased our UK foreign trade data to many countries worldwide with more granular series for export and imports. The newly added data makes it possible to take a closer look of the imports and exports structure as well as examine the magnitude of the UK reliance on food imports from the EU.

The UK exports to the world have dropped by 15 % YoY since the beginning of the year as seen in the chart below. Almost all of the components in the UK export structure for august remain below zero with a miniscule increase in material manufactures in comparison to last year.

Imports have also dropped by 15% in comparison to august last year which is at the same level as we saw with exports. According to the import structure from the chart below, only unspecified goods appear to have increased significantly in august compared to last year. Imports of food & live animals do not seem to have dropped that much in comparison to the other components.

To evaluate how important the EU is as an exporter of food to the UK, we have plotted the imports of food & live animals from the EU and from the whole world into one chart as seen below. The bottom pane shows the percent proportion of EU imports to the total import from the world. In the last 20 years, the percent proportion ranged between 60 to 70 percent.

A more detailed look at the components of UK imports of food & live animals reveal that EU imports of meat, miscellaneous foods, dairy products & eggs, as well as live animals are above 80 percent of world import share while fish and shellfish take up less than 50 percent. It remains to be seen how Brexit will potentially affect the market share of EU food exports into the UK in the future.


Data Additions By Country / Region

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